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Quitting drugs or alcohol is hard. So hard, in fact, that it’s not unlikely that at some point you might slip up and indulge in drugs or alcohol again, no matter how much progress you’ve been making.

A relapse is not a sign of failure, however. As long as you’re getting back up and trying again, you’re on the path to success, and you’ll get there eventually.

Here’s how to get back on track after a drug or alcohol relapse:

Remember that the only failure is to give up. Forgive yourself and keep moving forward. When you have a relapse, it’s good to be disappointed in your behavior. But don’t let that dissuade you from moving forward. Relapses are a common part of the recovery process; between 40 and 60 percent of people treated for substance use disorders will relapse, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse. Forgive yourself for the relapse and resolve to try again.

Reach out to the people in your corner. Have a conversation with your sponsor, your spouse, or some good friends in whom you’re able to confide. Being part of an accountability community is an important factor in success in quitting alcohol or drugs. Bostec can help in that regard by offering regular drug tests to help ensure that you’re staying on track. You can come right here to our Lynden drug testing office.

Take active steps to reduce temptation. One benefit of a relapse is actually that it can give you concrete examples of those things that can push you over the edge. Look at the reasons that caused your relapse so that you can avoid them in the future. For example: Did you drive past a familiar liquor store and find yourself drawn through its doors, for old time’s sake? Or do you find that hanging out with certain friends often results in your being in situations where taking drugs is an option? According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, “stress cues linked to the drug use (such as people, places, things, and moods), and contact with drugs are the most common triggers for relapse.” To have success in recovering from a relapse, you’ll need to make hard changes to avoid temptations like these.

Revisit what has worked. In addition to identifying points of failure, as in the previous point, it also will be helpful to identify what has worked. What steps have you taken in the past to encourage your success in quitting drugs? What worked the first time? Maybe you were inspired by a specific book, a certain conversation, a buddy in Alcoholics Anonymous or Narcotics Anonymous. Maybe it was something you heard in church or saw on TV. Perhaps it was a conversation with your spouse or children. Whatever has given you inspiration in the past, whatever has helped you along the path, revisit it.

Make achievable goals that you can start working on today.  You’ve probably heard of the SMART goal-setting system. Good goals are ones that are Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant and Time-bound. If your earlier goals were good ones, recommit to them. If, in review, your goals were too broad or impossible to achieve, now’s the time to make new ones.

If you’re in Bellingham, Lynden, Ferndale or elsewhere in Whatcom County and you need any advice or assistance in quitting drugs or alcohol, please feel free to give Bostec a call or drop by our office in Lynden. We have years of experience helping people just like you bounce back from relapses and quit using drugs or alcohol for good.

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