The recovery process: falling down and getting back up again


You have made the decision to quit your addiction. You have told your friends and family and you have signed up for professional help. A great first step! In good spirits you start your recovery process and you are in a so-called “honeymoon period” now that you have quit your addiction for some time now. But suddenly you experience a strong craving and before you know it you have relapsed back into your old addiction patterns. Don’t worry, this happens to everyone.

“It is impossible to live without failing at something, unless you live so cautiously that you might as well not have lived at all – in which case, you fail by default.”- J.K. Rowling


A relapse is part of the process

A relapse doesn’t have to be the end of your recovery process. It is part of the recovery process. At the beginning of your recovery process, you are vulnerable and sensitive to triggers or periods of craving. Discuss this with someone close to you or your professional. This will help you to break the usual pattern and keep you in close contact with your friends and family. Afterwards you can reflect on what caused you to relapse. How can you manage your feelings differently next time? A relapse is then instead a valuable lesson.

Don’t compare yourself to others

It is tempting and above all human to compare yourself to others. However a disadvantage  of this is that you often compare yourself to someone else who is “more successful” than you are, at least in your eyes. This creates a feeling of inferiority and the chance of a relapse increases. Try to stay as close to yourself as possible. Don’t see your recovery process as a competition. During your recovery process you will strengthen your social skills and this will take time. Be patient with yourself. Your life is unique and so is your recovery process.

Reflect on the positive steps you have already taken

Take time to consciously reflect on the positive steps you have already taken in your recovery process. You can think of the first time you went to a party sober or the time when you endured a strong craving without using. This will increase your self-esteem and will contribute to a more positive self-image. You can also keep a daily or weekly diary in which you write down what went well.

The importance of a relapse prevention plan

At the start of your treatment, think about how you would resume your recovery process after a possible relapse. You will create a relapse prevention plan together with your professional. In the plan you will answer the questions:

  • What are the signals that you are experiencing a craving? 
  • How can other people identify these signals?
  • What do you need to prevent relapse? What do you need to recover from a relapse?
  • How can the people close to you help you with a relapse?

After a relapse you can re-evaluate your plan. You will be able to make adjustments due to having gained new insights during the process.

Be inspired by books, podcasts or movies

Some people enjoy identifying with other people’s stories. This gives the feeling that you are not alone. You can also be inspired by the process others have gone through when quitting their addiction. Here are a few suggestions, some of them can only be found in Dutch.


  • “Ik ben Loïs en ik drink niet meer” – Loïs Bisschop
  • “Kieft”- Michiel van Egmond
  • “Stop, het verdriet van een verslaving” – Jessica Broekhuis
  • “De verslaving voorbij”- Jan Geurtz
  • “Sterker dan ooit”- Brené Brown



  • 28 Days
  • Don’t worry, he won’t get far on foot
  • Thanks for sharing
  • When love is not enough
  • Beautiful boy




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