Relapse is NOT Failure!

Ask any addict, past or present, what the best way to beat a drug addiction is, and you will most likely be told a different answer from each.

The truth is every addict is different; their stories all a little different. Every single recovery will be a unique, personal journey. What worked amazingly for one individual may send the next guy running back to their dealer.

Part of every addict’s journey to a new life is trial and error, aka relapse. Decide on a method you think may work for you and just work it. Whether it’s cold turkey, medication, moving away, or any of the countless other options, just choose one and do it!

Spend every day, every hour, every minute consciously fighting anything that tries to sabotage your recovery. Ignore the voices that haunt your mind, and the withdrawals that may torture your body.

Always remember the pain will not last forever, no matter how hard you try to convince yourself otherwise, the pain will end someday! Honestly, the pain of withdrawals becomes a pretty strong deterrent from relapsing; never wanting to go through that torture again is a strong reason to just say no!

If you do find yourself using again; don’t give up, rather give yourself a pat on the back, you are just like everybody else that has successfully beat their addiction. Early recovery is filled with failure, but as long as you learn from it, and don’t lose the desire to beat your addiction, you will get there.

Take some time to figure out what caused you to relapse, what made you go back to using. Spend time thinking about what you could of done differently; maybe you hung out with someone that still was actively using and now know that relationship has to end.

I spent 6 years trying to quit, 6 years fighting a battle in my mind, 6 years trying different recovery methods. During this time I collected multiple 30 day chips from Narcotics Anonymous, but would always find myself back at my dealer.

I may have relapsed, but I never gave up the inner desire for my life back. I realized every relapse was one step closer to a lifetime of being happy, healthy, and clean.

Realize that in order to relapse you must have been trying to stop, and that honestly is the biggest step in this battle.

Don’t give up hope after experiencing a relapse. Remind yourself that we all have a certain number of relapses; a certain number of battles to struggle through before you get your life back.

A relapse is part of the process, it is NOT failure. Figure out your next step, and work towards it. As long as that desire for living life, for feeling happiness, and love again still exists; as long as you have the desire to conquer your addiction buried somewhere inside of you then you have not failed. You have actually moved one step closer to beating this.

Learn from each relapse, whether it is a person you can no longer associate with, or a prescribed medication that you ended up abusing and can no longer take. As long as you take something away from it then you are moving forward towards recovery.

Even if your most recent relapse sends you to the lowest rock bottom that you have ever experienced, you have not failed. Realize you were sick and tired of this life way before things ever got this bad. Experiencing things worse than they ever have been may be what you need to finally say enough is enough; that you are truly sick and tired of being sick and tired, finally able to say I truly am done.

We all need something to fight for. Figure out what your personal reason to fight is. Do it for yourself, do it for your family, do it for your kids, just do it.

Figure out a plan for your next attempt at sobriety; NA, Detox, Out of State Rehab, Cold Turkey, anything, and start today. Tomorrow is never guaranteed in the world of addiction. Prepare yourself mentally, take some ideas from this site, and fight with all you have.

If you find yourself back at square one, just roll up your sleeves, regroup, and start again. It is a cycle:

Actively Using

Deciding Enough is Enough

Go through a period of sobriety (whether one hour or a year+)


Begin Again

Just remember each cycle is a learning experience. Figure out what worked, and what failed. Take note of the things you can no longer do or expose yourself to. Each cycle is one relapse closer to a lifetime of sobriety.

This will be one of the hardest things you ever go through. People will tell you what you are trying will never work, or that you should do this or that, or someone they know got worse because they tried something. People will tell you all kinds of things; just let them say what they have to say.

Remember this is your personal war, and there will be many battles along the way to victory. You will win some, and you will also face defeat. People close to you may consider you a failure, people may give up on you, but as long as you don’t give up on yourself then you are one step closer to beating this.

Relapse is not a death senetence, it is a learning process for an individual that has decided they want out of this so called life they are living. Learn from everything, don’t give up, and just know that the next time you decide to stop; the next time you buckle up and decide to give it your all; the next time you have had enough of this rock bottom life, the next time may be the last time you ever have to decide to quit again.

I never knew my last day using was really going to be my last day on drugs. AFter years of relapses, and not giving up on myself I finally won. You are just one decision away from joining me, one decidsion away from living the life you dream of, a life you have spent years telling yourself will never exist again for you…

You are one decision away from a life filled with happiness, love, emotion, family, trust, and all the other amazing things being clean and sober will bless you with.
  • 23 Commentsby Likes|Date
  • @Recover117 thanks for sharing. glad you found your path...and yes, recovery is a process and it takes time... persistence is a valuable key... change takes time.... so yes, i agree with what you are saying.
  • @Recover117 Hey...this is very well written and while I agree with a lot of the details, I come away not completely on the same page. I wrote a blog entry with a different spin. I hope you are not offended, but I also wanted to be up front and say that I wrote this...
  • Thanks for your post, @Recover117. I agree with you that relapse should not be viewed as a complete failure. In fact, I made a video a while back that says the same (link at the bottom of this post).

    @JoshuaShea... Obviously, everyone is entitled to their opinions, and I respect yours. And I agree with you that relapse isn't part of recovery. But I think relapse is part of the disease of addiction. You said in your post that relapse doesn't happen in 40% of people. But that means that it does happen in 60% of people, and that's a majority. And I don't think telling the majority of people who try to get clean and sober that they are failures is very constructive.

    I tend to view recovery as a learned behavior. Someone who has been dependent on a substance or substances for a period of time has to learn how not to be dependent again, both physically and psychologically. And that's not an easy thing.

    If you look at other learned behaviors, like, for example, learning to speak a foreign language, you'll see that a trial-and-error process is involved before a person becomes good at it. If you set out to learn how to speak Russian, you're not expected to be an expert at it right from the get-go. You practice, make mistakes, learn from those mistakes, try again, and, eventually, get good at it.

    I think putting the expectation on someone that they should get clean and sober and never relapse is setting them up for failure. I like the saying "expectations are resentments under construction." If someone is told they are a failure if they relapse, and then they do...well, that does absolutely nothing for their self-esteem or desire to try and get clean and sober again.

    I know it's a slippery slope, but I'm a firm believer in "progress, not perfection." And I believe that if a person mixes willingness and hope enough times, they will eventually find long-term sobriety. I honestly don't think an expectation of perfection is a realistic goal for anyone. Especially someone who is likely already struggling with self-esteem and self-confidence issues.

    Should someone trying to get clean and sober necessarily expect to relapse? No. But if they do relapse, they shouldn't think of themselves as failures. That doesn't help anything.

    That's my $0.02.

    Here's that video I referenced:

  • @DeanD And I appreciate your perspective. I could also posit that learning to drive a car doesn't involve crashing it, and I'm guessing we could site analogies to support our positions all day long. I agree that telling someone they are a failure is wrong. But I don't think telling them in advance that they are probably going to fail and if they do, it's OK, is helpful either.
    We don't all have relapses....40% don't, yet you'd think it's 100% reading certain things and talking to certain people. I've never heard in a 12-step group or in any rehab "About half of you will relapse." It's just presented as if it's a given that it WILL happen.
    If we cut down on the lowered expectations, and taught addicts to raise their expectations with tools like understanding the prelapse, as I described in the blog, could 11% be converted, thus leaving those who do relapse in the minority? Wouldn't that be a victory for recovery statistics?
  • @JoshuaShea... Learning to drive a car doesn't necessarily involve crashing it, but I'm sure plenty of people have had some mishaps while in Driver's Ed. And telling someone at the start of Driver's Training that they are expected to not make any mistakes would be pretty intimidating, don't you think?

    I'm just not a big fan of perfectionism. Or expecting people to be perfect. I struggled with perfectionism for many years and it ate me alive. I believe that the higher you raise the expectations bar for someone struggling with addiction and seeking recovery, the bigger the fall will be for them if they fail. And if they do fail, they will be less likely to try again, because they will look at themselves as...a failure.
  • @DeanD i live your video :heart:

    So today is Day 3 (again) and although I am ok, I know a big part of that is my surroundings. I am with my family and tomorrow I go back home. I can already feel the internal struggle building and my anxiety is increasing. On the one hand I’m glad i’ve got a few days of not using, yet I don’t feel strong enough and that devil on my shoulder is already whispering... i’m not sure how to ignore her whispers and get through it. Staying here is not an option because I have work and other plans so I have to go back. I know I want to continue with my recovery just don’t know how to keep fighting through it when it overwhelms me.
    I’m trying to live in the moment and only focus on today, however my mind keeps leaping ahead no matter how many times I stop it and bring it back to right Now.
    Anyone else struggle with this and have tips?

    I only recently admitted I had a problem so it’s still new to me, realization of the true struggle and battle within.
  • Thanks for the video love, @blueorchid. Every once in a while I say something that makes a little bit of sense. ;)
    Keep working hard at staying in the moment. It can be challenging, for sure, but eventually you will train your mind and things will get easier.
  • Thanks @DeanD made it through another day... was a bit harder and being alone I know is part of it... so I’ve been binging on Game Of Thrones, made sure I ate a few meals today and had the support of someone going thru similar feelings as I (we are both at the same milestone, end of day 4). Had some triggers come up and it was almost enough to send me over the edge, but it didn’t and I will be able to say I’ve made it through another day when I wake up!
    s03e05 of GOT now and hopefully I will get to sleep soon.
  • @blueorchid good morning! congrats on now 5 days! that's awesome! you're getting through the triggers.... good for you!

    i hope you have a super sweet day.... know that we're here and that you are loved and delighted in :)
  • @blueorchid Hey lady! How are you? I'm feeling like a complete piece of shit because today is Day 1 for me. Again. So mad at myself. Hope you're out there kicking some ass!
  • Hi @DeanD thank you! Was tough but yup day 5 now!

    Hi @WinoMama don’t feel like that... I almost didn’t make it... it’s still early on anything can happen but if you let yourself feel shitty about a relapse it makes it much harder... one day at a time, remember!
  • Congrats on Day 5, @blueorchid. I'm proud of you for navigating your way through the trigger storm.

    @WinoMama... You are NOT a piece of shit. And I'm proud of you, too! I'm proud of you for continuing to try again when you don't succeed. It would be way easier for you to say, "Eff it. I'm done." But you're not. You're getting up, brushing yourself off, and starting over. And that takes a boatload of courage, my friend. Congrats on Day 1. Remember that we are here to help and support you no matter what.

    Big hugs to both of you. Take things an hour or minute at a time if necessary. Whatever it takes to keep moving forward.
  • @DeanD Thanks! Hour by hour...
    @blueorchid I'm so proud of you! Keep KICKING ASS!
  • Thanks @DeanD
    & @WinoMama I’m proud of you!!! Yes you had a relapse but you are back on here admitting you relapsed, getting support, dusting yourself off and trying again!
    I can’t say how many times I’ve relapsed but I do know I’m still trying and so are you!
  • @WinoMama i've met MANY people who had MANY Day 1's.... and MANY of them eventually had a LAST day 1... (and i dont' mean that they died ) :/

    again, change is a process.... and there are stages. and you're learning lessons along the way.

    maybe set a short goal. 3 days, no drinking. or 5. or 7. bite sized.

    and, why do you want to quit? have you written down your reasons? what's your motivation? you're getting something out of drinking (relief, numbing, etc.) what are some skills you can start learning to better deal with the pain underneath? the stress of life? the anger that's surfacing?

    skill building. it's some good sh&t
  • @dominica I like the short term goal. The last two times I have drank were: 1) death and trying to numb myself from that pain 2) anger and trying to numb myself from the hurt and disappointment i have right now towards my family members I'm fighting with..

    I'll definitely have more insight after my therapy tomorrow. I'll keep you posted on what she says.

  • Short-term goals are a great way to get going, @WinoMama. You can do this. I know you can. Remember: We're all rooting for you!
  • @WinoMama hope your therapy appt. goes well and that you have a great day!
  • Anytime, @WinoMama... We are part of your tribe!!!
  • Yes, hoping your therapy goes well. Thank you for your support as well! We will just keep supporting each other :smile:
  • How's @Recover117 doing with everything??
  • @WinoMama haven't heard in a while..... i hope he's doing great!
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