“If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again.”
Odds are we could all agree that this is good advice with broad applications. Didn’t win the match this week? Practice some more and try to win the next one. Didn’t hit your sales goal this month? Evaluate your strategies and try to hit it next month. Unhappy with an arts project you’ve been working on? Learn from the first draft and try a different approach.
But when it comes to relapses during recovery, it is tempting to be less forgiving. Experienced a relapse? Well, maybe you just can’t get sober.
That, of course, isn’t true or helpful. Instead, how about: Experienced a relapse? Get yourself back into treatment and address the issues that led to the relapse so that you can maintain your sobriety.
Maybe you’re thinking that’s easier said than done. Fair enough. But anything worthwhile takes work–and often a series of setbacks. Try, try again should be a mantra for anyone in recovery.
First, the Bad News
Unfortunately, relapse is much more common than anyone would like. For those who have been sober for less than a year, the relapse rate can be as high as two thirds. Things look better after that first year, but the truth is that relapse can—and does—occur anywhere along the recovery road.
And Now, the Good News
We won’t pretend that a relapse is something to celebrate. But it doesn’t have to be the tragedy it is sometimes made out to be—especially if you can assess what factors led to the relapse. Then, you can return to treatment with a plan: to work with your caregivers to address those factors and neutralize those triggers in the future. Fine-tuning your recovery plan can, in the end, be a net gain if it makes you less susceptible to temptations in the future.
The family and friends in your support network will stand by you as you restart your journey toward long-term sobriety. Your familiarity with how detox and treatment work will mean less anxiety the second time around. Your determination not to quit after a setback will serve you well on a second attempt. All of this is good news—and it far outweighs the bad news.
‘Try, Try’ – When One Try Turns Out Not to be Enough
Who says “try, try again” when they could just say “try again”?
But that second “try” offers an important reminder. Sometimes we fail and try again. And fail again.
That can certainly be true when a person is recovering from a substance abuse disorder. They can try to stay sober and fail. And get sober again. And relapse again.
Anything hard—like maintaining your sobriety—may require us to try again and again before we find lasting success. Your future success will be built on the lessons learned from failure. While that might seem discouraging, remember that as you continue to move forward, you will find it easier to pick yourself up, dust yourself off, and start all over again.
Don’t Judge Yourself Too Harshly – And Don’t Wait to get Help
If you’ve experienced a relapse, beating yourself up about it will only make things worse. We encourage you to give yourself a bit of grace—and then to get back into treatment as soon as possible. At The Aviary Recovery Center, we will not judge you or your journey. Recovery is difficult. Relapse is common. The road to long-term recovery is often awash in detours. If you find yourself off the path, we hope you’ll find your way to us—or back to us. It takes courage to seek the help you need, especially more than once. We’ll honor that bravery by providing compassionate, personalized care.