How To Stay Positive After A Relapse

Last Updated on April 12, 2022

Because addiction is a chronic disease, relapse can be a very real outcome in the recovery and addiction treatment process. Unfortunately, the likelihood of relapse can also be high. However, if you have suffered a relapse and are concerned about what that may mean for your future recovery, you should know that you are not alone. Through ongoing treatment and other strategies, there are many ways to regain your sobriety and help get you started back on the road to recovery. This article contains ideas about how to stay positive after a relapse has occurred.

Adjustments or changes in your current treatment plan may be necessary but having a relapse does not mean that any positive progress that you’ve made over time has been lost or that your treatment has failed. Consider this setback as an opportunity to recover from your addiction in a positive, productive, and healthy new way.

The Power of Positivity in Recovery

Studies[1] have shown that maintaining an optimistic outlook when overcoming a major obstacle in life is tremendously beneficial to its eventual outcome, and after a relapse this holds true as well. In relapse as well as in recovery, it is always important to focus on the present and the positive aspects of your situation, and to not let negative thoughts weigh you down. It is easy to dwell on negative experiences and focus on the wrong things but adopting a positive mindset and a “this too shall pass” attitude can help improve the outcome of treatment.

Following these simple techniques and actions in your day-to-day life may help increase your positive thinking and improve your future outlook:

  • Meditating: Dedicating a small portion of each day to mindful meditation is a commonly used practice that can be helpful when used both in and outside of treatment. It emphasizes a focus on breathing, relaxation, and drawing strength from the positive energy surrounding you. Regular meditation can help you get in the practice of letting go of past negativity and instead help you focus more on the future, and is an excellent way to stay positive after a relapse has happened.
  • Surrounding yourself with a strong support network: The benefits of surrounding yourself with positive, like-minded people on your road to recovery cannot be understated. In some cases, people may feel despondent, ashamed, or overcome by feelings of helplessness because of their addiction. Having a strong support group to help you remain positive through your difficult times can form a solid foundation for your recovery process.
  • Volunteering your time: Another way to increase positivity in your life is through volunteer work. Volunteering at an organization or on behalf of a cause that you care about can help you connect with others and feel good about the improvements you’re making to someone else’s life. Donating your time may also improve your feelings of self-confidence, self-worth, and give you an overall positive outlook along the way.
  •  Setting personal health goals: Following a proper diet, getting an adequate amount of sleep, and engaging in regular exercise are all beneficial to maintaining a positive mindset. These activities may all provide a boost to your overall mood and improve self-worth. Drugs and alcohol can often leave long lasting damage to the body, and these activities are simple ways to offset much of the damage that they may have caused. If traditional exercise is not to your liking, there are many other activities you can try such as hiking and yoga.
  • Trying out new hobbies: Hobbies are an excellent way to explore your interests and improve your mood. Creative outlets such as writing poetry or journaling, painting, learning an instrument or new language, or taking up photography, as well as physical activities such as horseback riding, kayaking, or swimming can all be both therapeutic and fun ways to pass the time. Find new activities you can lose yourself in and make it a point to thoroughly enjoy them.
  • Reciting daily positive affirmations: Learning to identify when you begin thinking negatively about situations and actively moving to redirect your thoughts into a positive direction is a great way to keep your recovery moving in the right direction. One way you can accomplish this and stay positive after a relapse is through positive self-affirmations. Affirmations are phrases you can repeat to yourself as a reminder to keep focused and stay motivated. Phrases such as “I’m trying my best” or “I’m going to continue working hard on my recovery” may sound simple but can carry a lot of weight.

Related post: 7 Common Challenges People Face in Addiction Recovery

Why a Relapse is Not a Failure

  • Addiction is a chronic recurring disease. Understanding addiction as a disease that causes changes in the brain is helping researchers develop better treatments for it. Many people need help to overcome the recurring nature of addiction, but this doesn’t mean they’re weak; it means they’re fighting an illness that is difficult (but not impossible) to overcome. Learning how to stay positive after a relapse is a key factor in preventing another occurrence.
  • Relapse is common. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), 40 to 60% of individuals trying to get sober experience at least one relapse after completing treatment[2]. Rather than letting these statistics discourage you, try to view every day that you live in sobriety as a measure of success.
  • Recovery is a lifelong journey. A few bumps along the way on your path to sobriety are to be expected, and if you keep moving in the right direction, a relapse is nothing more than a temporary setback that can be corrected with the right treatment and support.

Understanding How to Stay Positive After a Relapse – Reaching Out is Key

At Nova Recovery Center, our experienced and empathetic addiction treatment specialists can help you understand how to stay positive after a relapse and grow stronger and healthier from the experience. For more information, please call our admissions specialists at (888) 427-4932 or contact us online today if you’ve relapsed or believe you are headed in that direction.


  1. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2894461/
  2. https://nida.nih.gov/publications/drugs-brains-behavior-science-addiction/treatment-recovery

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