Does Relapse Mean “Back to Square One”?

The simple answer to this question is no, not exactly. Although a relapse is a setback during a person’s recovery, relapse does not necessarily send a person all the way back to where they started. Some people find it valuable to count how many days they have been sober from drugs and alcohol and some do not. Some people find it valuable to celebrate sobriety anniversaries in some way, and some do not. If you are a person who is counting each sober day, then a relapse would naturally restart that count. We all have the sum of our experiences with us as we go through life. A relapse is an important learning experience, and we should always look to evaluate the circumstances of a relapse. Where were we and what was our psychological headspace like just before we relapsed? Did we put ourselves in a situation with people or places that we will want to avoid in the future? This is knowledge that we can use to avoid a relapse of the same nature in the future. When a person receives treatment at a place like Florida Springs Wellness and Recovery Center, which is the best drug and alcohol rehab in Panama City, Florida, they will work one-on-one and in groups to identify people, places, and things that can be harmful to a healthy recovery. If a relapse takes place, that is another opportunity to add to that list and come up with more tools that will help you stay sober. In sobriety, many people talk about knowledge as “tools in a toolbox” that you take on your journey to help you stay clean. All kinds of experiences, both positive and negative, can teach us things and become new tools for that toolbox.

Relapse Prevention and Planning Ahead

One thing that can come in handy in early recovery or just after a relapse is a concrete plan of action for what to do in certain circumstances. Some people find it valuable to make a list of people that would drop what they are doing and drive to pick you up if it became necessary for your sobriety to leave a place in a hurry. Even people with their own car and license might find it valuable to have a list of loved ones who could meet up with them in a hurry if need be. What if you run into a person you used to date and use drugs or alcohol with? If that is something that you know could be a troubling scenario, who are you going to call and talk to when that happens? What if an old drinking buddy calls you? These are the types of scenarios that people plan for in early recovery, and they are naturally different for each person. In AA and NA, or in a recovery facility such as Florida Springs Wellness and Recovery Center, it is likely that you will learn about sponsors. Sponsors are people that will often volunteer to always answer your call in an emergency, but even people who are not involved in a 12-step program can plan ahead and have a list of names and numbers to call in an emergency. Florida Springs is the best drug and alcohol rehab in Florida, located near the emerald waters of Panama City, Florida, but no matter where you begin a program of recovery, these are things that you should think about. What if alcohol or drug use is suddenly taking place at your home? Is there an immediate family member that you can stay with if a person who lives in your home relapses or begins using alcohol or drugs around you? Some family members may respond differently to your sobriety, but it is important to think and talk about these scenarios in advance so you can respond appropriately. And of course, what do you do if you use drugs or alcohol?

What to do in Case of a Relapse

The one thing that worries me about the celebrations of sober anniversaries and all that stuff is that a person who has relapsed might be reticent to tell other people what has happened. If a person is afraid to tell their sponsor or other people from their own sober network that they have made a mistake, that could prolong the period where they are not receiving the help they need. It must be made clear to everyone that the only correct thing to do after you have used drugs or alcohol during a period of sobriety is to tell somebody what happened. If people are having difficulty with this, and I imagine some are, we must reevaluate the way we are doing things. Being willing to ask for help again after using drugs or alcohol can be the difference between life and death. The choice to get help after a “relapse” (for lack of a better term) is as important as the choice to get help in the first place. Talk to people close to you about what might be an appropriate response if someone slips up and uses drugs or alcohol during sobriety. If a sponsor says, “don’t worry about that because you are not going to relapse”, it might be appropriate to find someone else to work with. Avoiding discussion about relapse only makes a relapse harder to properly deal with. Remember, if you are sober for 6 months and then make a mistake and relapse, you come back to sobriety with all the knowledge that helped you stay sober for 6 months, and the added knowledge of what happened that may have caused you to stumble. Does relapse mean you go “back to square one”? Only in the strictest sense, and if we learn from our experiences and try to plan for a positive future, we can move ahead without fear. We move ahead with all the knowledge of our past mistakes representing “tools in our toolbox”. The best drug and alcohol rehab in Panama City, Florida is Florida Springs Wellness and Recovery Center, and it is an incredible place to start building your toolbox for the future. The phone number and contact information on this website will connect you directly to a person at the Panama City facility.

By T.A. Cannon (Contact me at