Having Self-Compassion After a Binge-Drinking Relapse

February 17, 2022 Kayla Davidson

The number of times I have woken up after a binge-drinking episode and said to myself, "I am not drinking this weekend," or even bolder, "I am never drinking again," just to find myself back at the liquor store a few days later could be considered humorous. I have experienced feelings of shame and embarrassment many times after breaking that promise to myself and having a binge-drinking relapse. It has taken a lot of self-work to reach this point, and not all days feel this way, but I now hold self-compassion close to my heart, even during a binge-drinking relapse, and I encourage you to too. 

Sobriety and addiction recovery is an ongoing, lifelong process. And you know what else? Relapse is just a part of the process. What if, instead of feeling shame and self-hatred each time we return to old destructive patterns, we view it as an opportunity to learn and grow through self-acceptance and self-compassion

Binge Drinking Relapse Is a Normal Part of Addiction Recovery

With addiction comes a whole lot of shame. There is shame for using the drug. There is shame for the selfish behavior. There is shame for the regretful decisions. There is often so much shame that continuing to use the drug seems easier than facing those feelings. But maybe it is time to look at your addiction with more compassion and less judgment. 

Most of us were likely not taught healthy ways to cope with the struggles of life. Therefore, when life gets hard, we turn to what we know best; drugs and alcohol. But if we start to switch our mindset from viewing a relapse as failing to viewing it as a chance to gain more self-awareness, we might feel more comfortable talking about our recovery journey and asking for help when we need it.  

Relapsing does not mean failing. It means resulting back to destructive patterns that have helped you manage in the past. Breaking a pattern or a cycle takes commitment and hard work, and we are all just human. Let us not forget that. 

Binge-Drinking Relapse Can Result in More Self-Awareness 

I am far from perfect, and I will admit my alcohol binge-drinking days still occur. But each time I experience cravings or take an impulsive shot that breaks my promised sobriety, I try to learn from it. We use drugs and alcohol for a reason. The feeling they give us is incomparable, but it is only ever temporary. 

The next time you are feeling shame or self-judgment towards relapsing, and you are able to pull yourself out of it, try to learn from the experience. Think about why you relapsed. What was going on through your head at the time? What were those thoughts that justified the relapse for you? And when you do it, please have self-compassion.

Drug or alcohol relapse is normal throughout addiction recovery, and until you find healthy coping skills and activities that bring you joy and make you feel alive, the chance of it happening again still exists. But by gaining more self-awareness, self-forgiveness, and self-acceptance, you may find the answers within yourself to help better treat your addiction. 

APA Reference
Davidson, K. (2022, February 17). Having Self-Compassion After a Binge-Drinking Relapse , HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2024, June 18 from

Author: Kayla Davidson

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