a person looks out of a window after getting sober after a setback

Getting Sober After a Setback

The path to sobriety is often a rocky one, full of hills to climb and curves to navigate. It is completely normal to experience a setback or even relapse on the lifetime journey to maintain your recovery from addiction. Life is full of circumstances that can make alcohol and drug abuse recovery challenging. Fortunately, you aren’t alone on your journey from addiction. Even if you experience a relapse in sobriety, getting sober after a setback is still possible.

The Right Step Hill Country is an addiction treatment center just south of Austin, Texas. We provide residential and outpatient addiction treatment services so our clients can begin the road to recovery with support and newfound confidence. Using evidence-based therapies, our holistic approach works to heal the whole person. If you’ve relapsed in your recovery journey, that’s okay. We can help as you’re getting sober after a setback. Learn more today by calling 1.844.675.1628.

How to Get Sober After a Setback

There are a few steps you can take after experiencing a setback in sobriety. A lifetime of recovery lies ahead of you, and going through the motions of getting sober again is vital to your future.

Acknowledge the Setback

Accept that you aren’t where you want to be, but treat yourself with the same compassion you’d give someone else in the same position. Many people offer a degree of grace and forgiveness to others that they don’t allow for themselves.

When stressful life events occur, it’s easy to fall back into old patterns when new ones aren’t firmly established. If you’ve had a setback, it’s tempting to berate yourself, but being too critical can ultimately counter your goals. If “I made a mistake” turns into “I’m a failure” or “I’ll never get sober,” it can diminish the desire to keep moving forward. You may feel like you’ve come to the end of the road when you’ve really only come to a curve. Take a deep breath, look in the direction you want to go, and take the next step.

Learn from the Setback

Try to see a setback as a learning experience. With some reflection and help, you’ll probably determine where the recovery process broke down. You can work to identify these points by asking:

  • Is it possible that peer pressure or a poor environment were contributing factors?
  • What were the feelings that led to unwanted behavior?
  • Were there counterproductive thoughts behind the feelings?

No one wants setbacks, but if you learn from them, they can strengthen previously weak areas. When you identify problem areas and work on them, you’re less likely to make the same mistakes going forward.

Talk to Someone

Alcohol and drug addiction thrive in darkness. Studies have shown that confiding in a doctor or writing down a secret can reduce the level of stress hormones in the body, so simply acknowledging your missteps to someone and bringing them into the light is an essential step toward healing. 

As important as this step is, it’s often hard to take it because of the fear of disappointing and angering people. It’s true that not everyone will be as supportive as you’d like them to be, so it’s wise to give a bit of thought to who’s most likely to be understanding and helpful. Confiding in a supportive person first can give you the emotional strength to then talk to those who may be less understanding. Sometimes your primary support person will help you talk to people you’re afraid to confront.

You may choose to confide first in a doctor or therapist. Or maybe you’ll want to talk to a friend or family member who you know will support you no matter what. Maybe someone farther ahead on the recovery path would be a good choice—someone who recognizes the challenges but knows you can overcome them. 

Find Support

Others in recovery can provide accountability, advice, and the comfort that comes from being seen and understood. Humans are social beings, and the importance of connection in sobriety is beginning to be more fully understood. For example, in one interesting study rats were forced to choose between social contact with another rat or access to heroin or methamphetamine. Whether they were first given access to the drug or were already addicted, the rats consistently chose social interaction. Even when the animals lived with others, they preferred increased social contact over drug use.

It’s unclear how many parallels can be drawn between the animals’ behavior and human experience. Still, the study provides intriguing clues into the role that social support may have in the recovery journey. It’s easy to minimize the importance of support group attendance and of finding ways to stay connected to others, but keeping it high on the to-do list may be one of the most important things you can do to maximize your chances of ultimate success.

Take Care of Yourself

Reinstate or develop new emotional self-care routines. Setbacks often come from a desire to cope and manage the discomfort that comes from stressful events. You can’t generally choose the events in life that cause you to stress, but the choice comes in how you react and prepare. You can choose to incorporate habits into your routines that help you become more resilient. Safe and healthy ways to manage stress include practices like:

  • Breathing exercises
  • Meditation
  • Writing in a journal
  • Enjoying humorous books or videos
  • Engaging in enjoyable hobbies

It’s important to remember that all stress-relieving activities aren’t created equal and that some are ultimately counter-productive. It’s not uncommon for people in recovery to turn to gambling, sex, or unhealthy foods and find themselves with new challenges.

Establish Healthy Sleep Patterns

Sleep can be a tricky issue for people in recovery. Drug and alcohol use can affect sleep patterns, especially during early recovery stages. Sometimes, sleep is one of the links between stress and relapse. Stress can disrupt sleep, and when it does, people may be tempted to turn to substances that can either help them get to sleep or overcome daytime drowsiness that sleep disturbance can cause.

Many mental and physical self-care exercises that help manage stress can also help with sleep. Optimizing nutrition and making sure you’re getting the right balance of vitamins and minerals helps get adequate rest. If sleep issues are interfering with recovery goals and they don’t resolve on their own, you may want to consider therapy.

Engage in Therapy

Consider getting help from a therapist or increasing the frequency of visits if you currently see one. Trained counselors help people evaluate their goals and determine the roadblocks to meeting them. If you’re already working with someone, they may have a head start in helping you determine where your recovery journey got off track. If you’re beginning therapy with someone new, give the relationship some time, but accept that not every counselor and client are a good match for each other.  

Think About Rehab

Be open to the possibility of returning to rehab or attending for the first time if it hasn’t been part of your journey.

Attending rehab isn’t a sign of weakness. It’s a sign of your strength and dedication to the goal of sobriety. It’s a simple acknowledgment that your condition isn’t being managed as well as you’d like and that something needs to be adjusted.

Addiction Treatment at The Right Step Hill Country

Getting sober after a setback is possible, and it’s even more likely with professional help. The Right Step Hill Country offers residential, outpatient, and partial hospitalization services and can help you get back on track. We can help you become who you want to be. Call us at 1.844.675.1628 or contact us online today to get started.

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