Learning from Relapse

A slip is an error in learning… (People) who recover from habits they want to change treat slips very differently. They see themselves as having made a mistake they needn’t repeat. And RECOVERING from a slip gives them stronger confidence in their ability to resist temptation.” ~ Dr. G. Allan Marlatt, the University of Washington

Let’s get one thing clear – relapsing during recovery from substance abuse is NEVER okay… Or expected… Or inevitable. The goal is always to stay away from the use of drugs or alcohol.

Let’s get another thing clear – it CAN happen to anyone. Even YOU.

Whenever you have a setback in your sobriety, whether it is a slip (a brief occurrence) or a full-blown relapse (a more serious return to old behaviors), it doesn’t have to signal a catastrophic end to your recovery.

Instead, it can be an opportunity to learn who or what became a trigger for returning to a mood-altering substance, and in the end, move forward stronger and wiser than you were before.

Perhaps the biggest thing you can learn from a slip/relapse is how to identify the situation that presented you with enticement – the “trigger” that set everything in motion.

Typically, triggers are people, places, things, or emotional responses that you associate with drinking or using. People in early recovery are taught to avoid these triggers whenever possible.

As recovery progresses, one skill that is learned is how to deal with triggers when they are unavoidable. This takes practice. Dr. Marlatt continues, saying, “Habit change depends on increasing your awareness of just where in your life the temptations come from, and finding skillful ways to handle them.”

If you are struggling with a substance abuse disorder and want to learn more about how to prevent a relapse, contact Lasting Recovery today – the leading outpatient drug and alcohol rehab in Southern California.

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