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How Can I Justify a Relapse?

There’s no good reason to relapse. Relapse is always a setback. Although relapse is common at some point in recovery and you shouldn’t take it as a failure, it does mean you have to do extra work to get back to where you were. That said, there are several common ways people justify relapses.

I’m no longer an addict.

This one is dangerous because it’s a thought that creeps in when recovery starts to go well. You feel good, your cravings aren’t as strong as they were, and maybe you’re starting to get your life back on track. Suddenly, you think, “Hey, maybe I’m not an addict after all.” You start to feel like you can have one drink or hang around with certain people or stop going to meetings. Then, the next thing you know, you’re starting over. It’s pure hubris. When you start to feel like you’ve beaten addiction, or you hear fellow addicts say they’ve beaten addiction, alarm bells should go off in your head.

I’m celebrating.

Alcohol is part of many of our celebrations–weddings, birthdays, holidays, promotions, etc. When something good happens, we want to do something to mark the occasion, and traditionally, that means raising your glass in a toast. There is added danger because celebrations often come with a bit of stress. Weddings and promotions, for example, are happy times, but they also entail their own challenges and uncertainty. The combination of stress, social pressure, and “just this once” thinking provide a perfect excuse for relapse.

I just need to get through a tough time.

Sometimes recovery is going well and then something happens that’s out of our control and we feel like we can’t deal with it. Maybe a relative dies or a spouse leaves. You’re devastated. No one can expect you to stay sober under these circumstances, right? Unfortunately, these things are part of life. If you can’t get through this crisis sober, why is the next crisis any different? And whatever bad times you are facing will only be compounded by relapsing. Sometimes it’s really hard, but staying sober in bad times is just part of the deal.

I can’t do it anyway.

The opposite of hubris is despair. Whereas overconfidence leads you to take too many risks, lack of confidence keeps you from trying at all. You may look at the long road ahead and feel like it’s too much. You are bound to relapse at some point, so why try? It’s true, you can’t stay sober the rest of your life. You can only stay sober right now. You don’t need the confidence that you can stay sober forever and ever. You only need to be willing to try to stay sober the rest of the day, or even the rest of the hour. Cravings come and go. When cravings are at their most intense, of course it feels like you won’t be able to keep it up. Cravings aren’t always intense, though, and if you can ride them out for now, then you’re on your way.

If you or someone you love is struggling with addiction, Gardens Wellness Center can help you  detox in a comfortable environment and take advantage of a variety of complementary therapeutic approaches. Call us today at 844-828-1050 or email us at to learn more.