When a Relapse Happens, Does it Mean Recovery is Over?

Relapse Happens

When a Relapse Happens, Does it Mean Recovery is Over?

In this contemporary era, drug addiction is a serious issue and relapse is a real concern. In fact, the National Institute on Drug Abuse reports that in the year 2009, 23.5 million people aged 12 and up required treatment for the use of alcohol or an illicit drug. In many cases, addicts recognize the need to attain professional help and enroll in a recovery facility for treatment services. However, many of these individuals then relapse into their former world of drug abuse after being released from the treatment facility. So, when a relapse happens does it mean recovery is over?  Learn more about the issue of a relapse here.

Drug recovery is a process that transpires when a substance abuse addict attains treatment services that help her or him cease using the illicit substance. The ideal recovery happens in an inpatient facility and can incorporate a broad range of therapy services. Some of those services might include:

  • Individual counseling
  • Group counseling
  • Nutritional counseling
  • Mentorship
  • Restorative exercise

When the patient has successfully participated in recovery services and establishes a pattern of sobriety, she or he is typically released from the inpatient facility to begin a healthier, happier life. Hopefully, they have learned the skills and have the tools necessary to remain drug-free. However, often something will happen in the individual’s life which will cause them to have a setback, and they will return to their drug of choice which is called a relapse. Relapse happens often, but it is not a reason to think that recovery is over. When a relapse happens, the individual must start again on their road to recovery.

What to do When a Relapse Happens

While many recovering addicts remain free from drugs following enrollment in a treatment facility, this is not always the case. In fact, some individuals relapse. Although defined broadly, the term relapse refers to the recurrence of the drug addict’s dependence on an illicit substance. Relapse can also refer to the recovering addict breaking the cycle of abstinence by using the illegal substance once or a few times without becoming dependent on it. As many drug addiction experts know, the recovering addict may be exposed to a wide range of risk factors and triggers that make returning to the world of substance abuse more likely.

What Does a Relapse Mean for the Addict?

Although relapse marks the addict’s return to a world of drug use, it does not mean that the recovery process is over. As a condition that is classified as a chronic disease, drug addiction often entails periods of relapse. This means that recovery is an ongoing, long-term process that can and often does incorporate the addict’s return to the world of illicit substance use. When this happens, the individual may return to inpatient treatment for more counseling and treatment programs if they feel this is necessary. Many times, outpatient treatment can get them back on the right track.

Can a Relapse Be Prevented?

While relapses are common, it’s important to know that there are strategies recovering addicts can employ to decrease their likelihood. For example, recognizing signs which indicate that a relapse could transpire can empower the recovering addict to seek help from various support networks to remain abstinent. Some signs that a relapse may take place include:

  • Compulsive behavior
  • Destructive thoughts
  • Neglect of coping skills
  • Return to unhealthy environments and behaviors
  • Neglect of healthy habits
  • Isolation from groups and activities
  • Mood swings

If you note one or several of these behaviors manifesting in your life, speaking with a mentor or reconnecting with counselors from your inpatient treatment center can be an excellent way to prevent a relapse.

Aftercare treatment is a way to help prevent relapses. When the individual returns home and back in their normal environment, they can continue outpatient counseling a couple of days a week. Another way to help avoid relapse is to join a support group where you attend meetings with other recovering addicts. Others who are also in recovery understand better than anyone what you are going through in your battle to remain sober and drug-free every day. This can be a tremendous help, especially when first returning home from the inpatient treatment facility.

What Else Can I Do to Prevent Relapse?

One of the best ways to prevent relapse is by leading a healthy lifestyle. When you eat well and exercise regularly, you maintain the mood stability and optimized thinking which increase the likelihood that you will make life-giving decisions that promote progress and positivity. There are numerous health optimization strategies you can implement to reduce the risk of relapse, and some of them include:

  • Hiring a personal trainer
  • Drinking a green juice each morning
  • Spending fifteen minutes in the sun each day
  • Meditating
  • Investing in a pampering activity (massage, manicure, pedicure, etc.)

Summing It All Up

If you’re serious about recovering from drug addiction, it’s important to note that relapse is a reality that many addicts may have to grapple with once or even several times. To ensure that you can decrease the likelihood of relapse, refer to the information and advice found in this quick reference guide.

Recovering from drug addiction is a long process. You don’t just come out of the inpatient addiction treatment facility free from your cravings for drugs or alcohol.  Remember, this is an ongoing process which you may have to contend with for the rest of your life. You will continue to have cravings at certain times, but you can find the strength with the knowledge you now have of ways to fight off the cravings and remain healthy and happy.  Remember, when a relapse happens, learn from the mistake and get back on track right away.

Comments (3)

  1. Zsofia H

    I think to stay sober and clean after they let you out from the rehab is more harder than complete the treatment program because you are surrounded with people who want to help you and who want to overcome an addiction and when you go back to the outside work everything is up on you. That`s why the after care programs are so important and it is important to go there and try to stay clean. Thanks for sharing this article it is very useful I would recommend it to everyone who has an addicted loved one.

  2. Elizabeth J

    This is a very informative article, and I definitely agree that the advice given in it can really help with avoiding relapse. But I also think that relapse can happen to anyone, especially if their recovery program didn’t solve the underlying issues of the addiction. But the bottom line is that addiction is a lifelong struggle and once you get clean, you have to keep working at it all the time, to make sure that you stay clean for the rest of your life. I think this article is good because it gives symptoms and indicators to help people recognize when relapse can occur or when your family member or friend is suffering a relapse, as well as advice on what you can do to prevent yourself from going into a relapse. I really like the advice on health and focusing on mindfulness and keeping the body in shape, because I think that can really help with staying clean.

  3. Jennifer B.

    It was good to read this article about relapse. I feel like a lot of people don’t really know a lot about relapse or the effects of it or just how prevalent it is. I read somewhere that easily fifty percent of people who go to rehab end up relapsing after they complete their programs. Apparently the type of center that they go to for treatment does make a difference but still.

    With articles like this though people can educate themselves on the risks of relapse, what it means to relapse, and exactly what can happen if one does relapse. This only gets briefly touched on by most but I believe the true horror of relapse is in the fact that the vast majority of overdose deaths are attributable to relapses. Rarely does the average addict just randomly overdose during regular drug using periods. His body has a certain tolerance to the drugs that he takes, and while he certainly does run the risk of an overdose every time he uses, usually it does not happen.

    When an addict has not used in some time, be it a few months or even just a few weeks and then relapses and does use, his body will not be prepared for that level of drug consumption. He will suddenly be exposed to drugs in such a way that he has never experienced before, and the results will be no less than horrific. He might only take as much drugs as he is usually used to taking, but because his body has lost some of its tolerance for drugs, the dosage will be too much and he will overdose. This is the sad truth about relapse, and the one key factor that makes it truly horrific.

    This rehab center, of which I know personally is a stellar organization, seems intent on informing the populace on the truth about drugs. I could not have more respect and admiration for them for this. I really enjoy seeing organizations do this, and I take my hat off to them for it. I think it’s rare to see a rehab organization so committed to writing and posting key data about the dangers of drug and alcohol addiction, but these guys are doing it and we should all thank them for it.

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