After completing alcohol addiction treatment and remaining abstinent for a period of time, you might feel on top of the world – invincible, even. Unfortunately if you wake up one morning on the other side of a drunken kick-on wishing that your massive hangover was the worst of your problems, this (over)confidence will quickly go down the drain.
Whether you’ve just fallen off the wagon or you’re still trying to come to terms with the guilt from indiscretions committed in the depths of your alcoholic past, we offer this step-by-step guide on how to recover from drunken mistakes.
Step 1: Face the Shame
In order to truly move past your embarrassing drunken mishaps you’ll first need to face your shame around your drunken behaviour and forgive yourself. We’re not saying this is easy – in fact, this may very well be the hardest part. While it may seem preferable to crawl into a hole and never come out, putting on a brave face and confronting your mistakes will get you a lot farther in the long run.
If you fail to work through your shame, it will linger and resurface when you least expect it. Unresolved shame may compel you to drink more to alleviate the discomfort, only restarting the cycle of drunken regret.
Step 2: Be Honest
After a night of debauchery, it’s pointless to try to rationalise your actions. Drunken behaviour is anything but rational. The most productive thing you can do is to acknowledge what you’ve done and come clean with those affected, particularly your loved ones.
If you have a sponsor, as difficult as it may be, you need to contact them and admit what has happened. It’s important to always keep your sponsor up to date on the progress of your recovery so that they can give you the proper support you need going forward.
Step 3: Apologise
Aside from owning up to the loved ones who have stood by you during your recovery journey and apologising to them for your lapse, you will also need to apologise to anyone else unfortunate enough to have been caught in the wake of your inebriated misadventure.
If you got black-out drunk and can barely remember your actions, this step could be a little tricky. You may need to ask your friends or other witnesses exactly what you got up to so that you know to whom you owe an apology. Your phone history can be a useful source of clues in this endeavour.
Apologising actually serves a dual purpose in dealing with drunken disasters. Not only do you owe it to those affected by your behaviour, but making amends goes a long way in helping to work through the shame. You’ll find that saying you’re sorry builds character and makes it infinitely easier to move on.
Step 4: Get Back on the Recovery Horse
It’s not a good feeling to think that all of the hard work that you have put into abstaining from alcohol has suddenly gone out the window. At this juncture, it’s crucial to remember, a relapse is not the end of your recovery journey. In fact, up to 90% of people relapse before achieving long-term recovery. What happens next – whether you get caught in a downward spiral or pick yourself back up and maintain your recovery – depends on what you do now.
It’s important to keep in mind that just because one night of drinking that got a little (or a lot) out of control, does not mean that you have to start over from square one. Instead, look at it as a long stint in recovery with a little hiccup along the road. This distinction is important.
There’s even a term for this kind of all-or-nothing thinking – the abstinence violation effect. People with a strong abstinence violation effect have been found to be at significantly higher risk of full-blown relapse.
Don’t let a slip-up cause you to define yourself as a failure. Likewise, don’t let embarrassing alcohol-fuelled actions shape how you see yourself as a person. This type of toxic thinking can become a self-fulfilling prophecy. Instead of throwing in the towel and falling back into your former ways, get up, dust yourself off, and begin a new day in recovery.
Step 5: Learn From Your Drunken Mistakes
Slipping up in recovery isn’t anybody’s idea of success. But it doesn’t have to be the end of the world, either. Even if it was more of an epic catastrophe than a minor blunder, this is not inevitably the end of your recovery journey and there can indeed be a silver lining.
Sometimes making mistakes is the best way to learn. A lapse in your recovery can be seen as a learning opportunity. You can come out of the other side of an embarrassing bender with a stronger commitment to recovery, better coping skills and a reminder of exactly why you decided to get sober in the first place.
Staying Strong in Recovery
If you have read these tips but you are having a hard time coming to terms with what your under-the-influence self has done, or if you need some help getting back on that recovery horse, (or getting on it for the first time) contact The Cabin Sydney today. Our highly skilled team of addiction experts will give you the tools you need to reach your recovery goals. Don’t let your drunken mistakes define you – lasting change is within reach.