You admit you have a problem with gambling, so you seek treatment. You’ve been sticking to your clean routine for weeks, days, or even years — and then suddenly you lapse back into your old ways. You probably feel lost, like you’re out of control, and you aren’t sure what to do next. However, if you’ve recently experienced a relapse, you have to relax. It happens to everyone, and there are a few ways you can work to reclaim your sobriety.
Learn to Forgive Yourself
This is the first, most crucial, and possibly hardest step after a relapse. But the simple truth is that you have to forgive yourself for making a mistake. You can’t change the past, so there is no point in dwelling on it. Realize that new behaviors and habits take time to really sink in, and that time is different for everyone. So, even if your relapse happened after a few days, six weeks, or even a couple of years, you can still cut yourself some slack for your mistake and make a plan to prevent it from happening again.
Realize Relapse Is a Part of Recovery
A relapse is never a pleasant experience to go through, but everyone who is in recovery for addiction — whether it’s for drugs, gambling, or alcohol — experiences a relapse at some point. It’s an important element of any rehabilitation process, and it really just means that something is not working in your treatment plan. A relapse doesn’t make you weak or less of a person. In fact, experiencing a relapse pretty much just makes you normal. So, accept that and don’t let a relapse get you down too much.
Deal With Your Triggers
Like most people recovering from addiction, your relapse likely happened as the result of some unresolved trigger. Triggers can range from an unhealthy relationship to a familiar smell or just everyday stress. If you haven’t done so before, now is the time to identify your triggers and take steps to lessen the impact they have on your life. One way to reduce stress and create a healthy home environment is to begin a meditation practice. Having positive energy in your home can help you feel more relaxed, which is essential during recovery. You can even put together a simple meditation room in your home, to help you focus on your new practice.
Adjust Your Sobriety Strategy
Aside from dealing with triggers, there may be other elements of your treatment that simply are not working for you. If you’ve been going it alone, it may be time to explore some support groups to help you stay clean. Find a support group where you feel comfortable being open and know what to expect before you go for the first time. You may also need to explore some alternative treatment options, such as art therapy or even holistic therapies.
Find the Professional Help You Need
Addiction typically stems from some deeper issue in your life. It’s hard to get to the root of your addiction alone, so look for professional counseling to help guide you. Talking with a therapist is a good way to explore the feelings and thoughts that may be fueling your gambling addiction. Since finances tend to be an issue with gambling addictions, you may also want to consult a financial advisor to get some tips for dealing with gambling debts.
Talk to Your Family and Friends
A relapse can be embarrassing, and you may not want to talk about it with your loved ones. However, being honest and open is an important step in forgiving yourself, so don’t be afraid to bring up your mistakes with your friends and family. Talking with the people closest to you can also be beneficial because they can provide the support and encouragement you need to prevent problems in the future.
Dealing with a relapse is difficult, but it doesn’t have to derail your recovery efforts. With some soul-searching and simple changes, you can get back in the fight again.