Samuel had been clean of addiction for a month now. However, one drink with his friends ruined all his efforts. In the coming few weeks, he went back to his old habits of alcohol consumption. He had relapsed after a period of recovery. “I relapsed and now I hate myself,” thought Samuel. What followed next was guilt, shame, and a feeling of failure. In this article, we explore the emotions that follow soon after a relapse. We talk about relapse is and how we can prevent it. Further, we also talk about how we can deal with the emotions that follow.
What Is a Relapse?
Often people think of relapses as failures. They believe that it occurs due to moral weakness. Relapse is seen as a violation of a rule. They end up feeling guilty. Just like learning new habits is a process, unlearning them is also a long process. It doesn’t happen in a linear fashion. It takes time and cannot happen in a day. When we learn a new skill, we often dont succeed in one go. In the same manner, relapse is a small setback. However, people dont understand this. They think that there is no going back after a relapse.
Is relapse normal? Relapse is completely normal. Most people who choose to end their addiction face at least one relapse while in recovery. Triggers are particularly potent during the initial days of recovery when most relapses happen because this is the time before the brain has had a chance to relearn how to respond to other rewardsand rewire itself to do so. However, post relapse feelings of hate can make the journey of healing difficult.
Causes of Relapse
- Poor support network/ withdrawal from rehab: When people completely cut off from all support groups or rehab networks, there are greater chances of relapsing. This is because when a person has support, love and care, they can heal better.
- Poor mental health: There can be unresolved or hidden mental health issues, such as anxiety, alongside substance use disorder. These conditions can lead to relapse. For example, a person with depression can become even more sad if they relapse. This is because of feelings of worthlessness.
- Peers: While you are in recovery, being in the same environment as those who use drugs or alcohol can cause you to relapse. It is important to stay away from bad influences.
- Relationships: In the process of healing, a small fight with loved ones can lead to relapse. This is because when people fight, they are sad. This makes them want to consume substances to lessen the pain.
- Loneliness: When people are alone, one is with their own thoughts and emotions. To pass time, some people start drinking or smoking. This helps them to feel less lonely and sad.
I Relapsed and Now I Hate Myself!
Self-loathe or hate can make recovery even more difficult. The person will spiral into the loop of self-hate and addiction. In order to overcome the feelings of hate, they will consume more substances. This will lead to more self-hate. The person will find it even more challenging to seek help. This is because they may feel ashamed of themselves.
When people relapse, they think they have committed a sin by breaking a rule. They take it as personal failure which is why they hate themselves for it. Moreover, there is already a lot of guilt and shame linked with substance use. So when people relapse, they fear society’s judgments. This makes them hate themselves even more. They think that people will further stop talking to them if they relapse.
I Hate Myself for the Relapse. What Should I Do?
Ways to Prevent a Relapse
- Awareness: It is important to have knowledge about the process of relapse. The notion that an addiction is something that controls people should also be part of that instruction. One needs to develop the ability to accept the past as something that cannot be changed and to hope for the future.
- Talk to your therapist or counselor: Whenever you have thoughts about relapse or when you hate yourself for relapsing, talk to your therapist. They will help you identify the negative core beliefs and help you to develop positive thoughts.
- Journaling: Maintain a diary to note your thoughts and feelings about substance use, the recovery process, and the goals for the future. This record can help you feel better whenever you think you have failed.
- Share your feelings: Talk to someone who can understand you. Often people think that others will judge them. This is why they don’t prefer sharing their thoughts with others. However, there are many people with the ability to listen. Talk to your loved ones. It might be too challenging to handle relapse alone. Therefore, finding people in the same boat can help overcome tough times.
- Self-care: Self-care is essential to healing. For starters, it supports self-respect, which is typically under attack following a relapse. It aids in inspiring and maintaining recovery and the conviction that one is deserving of good things.