Responding to Relapse

relapse pit1. Don’t panic.  Relapse is not the same as tumbling back into that pit. This moment – right now – is where you stop sliding and start climbing.

2. Don’t pretend it’s okay.  It’s not. We both know where these patterns lead. We both know that it’s bigger than you.  And we both know there’s a window when you can seek help and make decisions; a window that may close if you leave it much longer.

3. It will never be easier to get better than it is, right here, right now.  No-one drifts into recovery.

4. What’s more important than preventing mistakes, is managing them when they happen.  You’ve got through this before – when you were doing much worse – and you can do it again.

5. Talk to other people.  No-one can manage relapse alone.  Weakness is saying “I can do it by myself” or “I don’t want to be a burden.”  You’re human – which means you are made to be a “burden” i.e. to have needs and rely on others.  At worst, “not being a burden” is a cop-out and a way of hanging on to your addiction.  At best it’s misguided: would you rather people help you now, when you can still respond, or later when you’re past caring (and maybe help)? Even if you don’t care about yourself – other people do, and they want to help.  Let them.

6. Don’t rely on other people to rescue you.  They can’t – and it’s unfair to demand or expect this. What they can do is support you in the decisions you make and in the direction you want to go.  And that counts for a lot.

7. This is not necessarily a detour.  It’s a chance to put into practice what you’ve learned already, to identify your triggers and to learn from your mistakes.

8. Don’t beat yourself up for what has been.  It’s a waste of time – and Jesus has already paid for it. Focus on what you need to change; now, today.  Don’t fit it around other activities: this is your life, and this is the priority.  A lot of what we consider non-negotiable really isn’t. In the face of throwing your life away, your job takes second place.  You can drop off a few rotas. Other people can help with the kids.  The sad truth is, if you don’t challenge your behaviours, you may lose these things anyway. So take it seriously. And if there are organisations or support groups in your area, then take all the help you can get.

9. You’ve come a long way – and you’re not on your own.  Even if you don’t have immediate support, there are many others, like you, fighting the same battles.  Your heavenly Father is cheering you on.  Your brother, Jesus, is fighting for you.  And you have a full-time Counsellor, living within you, who will never leave.

10. Remember that this will not last forever.  It’s hard – really hard – and there’s work to be done.  But anything worthwhile takes time and effort. Sometimes feeling terrible is a sign you’re winning the battle; because you’re challenging old lies and old behaviours that promise safety and have held you in slavery for a long time.

11. Challenge the lies.  Every time your brain starts running you down, counter it with the truths of the gospel.  I am loved.  I am precious.  I am forgiven.  I have a purpose. You don’t need to feel it, for it to be true.  It’s the grace that comes from outside and it’s grounded in Jesus’ cross, not your performance.

12.  Remind yourself of what you’re fighting for.  Write it on your hands, or carry it in your wallet. Stick it by the bed so you see it, last thing at night and first thing in the morning. The moment those lies crawl back, whack them with the truth.  This is important.  This is life-changing. It’s hard but it’s worth it. And you are doing it, a minute at a time.



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