Picture this: you’ve spent the last few days/weeks/months/years working hard to maintain your sobriety and evolve in the best way possible and then, one night, something leads you to drink. You convince yourself that you're a failure who’s just thrown away all of your progress. When you finally get past the shame and guilt and want to commit to sobriety once more, you are not sure where to start.
If this sounds familiar, you are not alone. Slips occur in almost one-third of recovering alcoholics during their first year of sobriety. A slipis a common part of recovery and does not mean you should give up being sober.
Here are some things you can do to begin the journey back to sobriety and move forward after a slip.
1. Spend time reflecting and identify triggers
Slips don’t just happen randomly, although it may seem like it at first. All slips are caused by something whether that’s a trigger you are aware of, or one you haven’t ever considered. Take some time to reflect and identify what caused you to take that first sip. Was it a stressful situation, like a fight with a family member? Was it a strong craving that was acted upon because there was alcohol in the house?
By identifying our triggers, we can be prepared for the next time they arise and feel confident that we overcome them without alcohol.
2. Put a plan in place for next time and make necessary changes
Now that you have identified your triggers, it’s important to put a plan in place for what you are going to do the next time you experience them. If you slipped because of stress, have a list of coping mechanisms you can do to relax during periods of high stress. If you slipped because you were craving a drink, make sure you have good alcohol alternatives in your house (like kombucha or NA beverages) that will help satisfy the craving for the time being. After all, the average craving only lasts about 20 minutes. As long as you distract yourself for that period of time, the worst part will be over.
In addition, it’s important to identify things that aren't currently serving you in your recovery plan. Some people find that the time after a slip is a great opportunity to take a new approach to their recovery. Recovery is not a one-size-fits-all project which is why it’s important to find what will work best for you.
3. Seek out support
It may feel natural to hide from the world after a slip, overcome with feelings of guilt and shame. However, the only thing that feels worse than slipping is slipping alone. Use this time to connect with others who can support you in your time of need. Reframe’s forum or community meetings are both great ways to connect with others who know how you’re feeling and who can offer words of support and encouragement. You can also take advantage of Reframe’s one on one Thrive Coaching where you’ll have the ability to talk with a certified recovery coach or licensed mental health professional at the click of a button.
4. Forgive Yourself
Again, it’s common to experience feelings of shame and guilt after a slip. While these feelings may initially motivate you to want to make a change, they will not help you in the long run. Instead of wallowing in your regret, try to view your slip as a learning experience. Think of it as something you had to go through in order to come out stronger and smarter on the other side.