While most people realize that relapse is a common experience for addicts in recovery, they often do not know how to get back on track after relapsing on alcohol or other mood altering drugs. Although relapse is commonplace, it is predictable, and thus preventable.

For many recovering people who relapse, the idea of a return to twelve step meetings may bring on a panic attack, or an overwhelming sense of shame. Although the recovering person knows that going back to meetings is the appropriate thing to do, s/he prevent themselves from doing so, due to false pride. While AA or NA is believed to be a safe place to be honest, it can be a humbling experience to go to a meeting andyou’re your recovering support system know that you have relapsed. Yet, this is exactly, the appropriate next step. And the very life of a recovering alcoholic or addict depends on it.

Many people are not only shamed by relapse, but have inaccurate beliefs about addiction recovery. Some people believe that when you relapse that you automatically are back at the very beginning of recovery. That is not necessarily the case. Some people certainly do remain in relapse long enough for a full fledged return of denial and other defense mechanisms that put them either at where they were before they found recovery or even further entrenched into the momentum of the disease. Many others who find their way back into recovery after a brief relapse, still have insight gained through working the program and the days, weeks, months, or even years that they were abstinent.

After relapse it is appropriate to start back with Step One of AA, NA, or other 12 step program, but one’s recovery knowledge and insight is not necessarily erased by a brief relapse. For those trying to find their way back into recovery from relapse, questions about what to do about detox, are common.

For some people, depending upon their drug(s) of choice, dosage(s) and period of time in relapse, it may be appropriate or even necessary for formal detox assistance. For some, outpatient or inpatient treatment should be used during or after detox assistance. Detox services could involve supervision by your primary care physician, a social detox, where you check in and stay until you are physically detoxed, or a medically assisted detox, that involves medication and possible other medical treatments. While many people also attempt to detox themselves at home without supervision, this approach has serious risks.

Each person who is experiencing withdrawal symptoms should be assessed for detox severity, possible complications and need for services based on individual conditions. One indicator of the probability for need for medical detox assistance is a prior detox history that was problematic. Any historic or current symptoms of DTs, seizures, or hallucinations (tactile, visual, or auditory) indicate a need for professional supervision. Anyone experiencing these symptoms should be taken to the hospital. Delirium and seizures can be very dangerous and can ultimately be life threatening. Taking into account previous detox history is important in assessing need for a variety of services. It is also important to keep in mind that detox experiences tend to get worse with each detox episode and as the disease progresses.

Most people would be appropriately advised to consult with their primary care physician about their history of chemical abuse and their current detox situation. Alcoholics or addicts in relapse often assume that their doctors will automatically send them back to inpatient treatment or to the hospital. These are not automatic recommendations. Although detox is not something to take lightly, many people do not require formal or medical detox services. Many people have flu-like symptoms with detox. Although not fun and not pleasant, most people do not go to the hospital for the flu. Your medical doctor or your addiction counseling professional can make a recommendation based on your history and current circumstances.

There is also a number of treatment or continuing support options available. When recovering people have a history of several attempts at formal inpatient treatment, followed by relapse, a long term inpatient treatment facility may be the most appropriate level of care.

For others, again depending upon length of time in relapse, drugs and dosage used during relapse, an appropriate course of action could be to return to outpatient counseling and 12 step group involvement. Some people in relapse may need only to return to their 12 step involvement.

It is crucial to keep in mind that addiction is a chronic illness that requires personal and professional attention. Addiction often requires professional attention off and on throughout a lifetime. If you are a recovering person and you have relapsed, do not be so hard on yourself to the point that you just give up. Although, recovery as a process is often discouraging and frustrating, don't give up. Recovery is rarely smooth sailing at the beginning.

Author's Bio: 

If you are working on recovery, arm yourself with as many tools as you can get. The website of Peggy L. Ferguson, Ph.D., has a number of appropriate resources available to you, http://www.peggyferguson.com E-books on relapse prevention are also available for purchase and download at http://www.peggyferguson.com/ServicesProvided.en.html You may also sign up for my newsletter that will let you know of additional information as it is released.