What is a Relapse and What to Do if it Happens

drug relapse happens

What is a Relapse and What to Do if it Happens

Addiction recovery is not a straight line to sobriety. It is an ongoing process that, for many, involves successes tempered by significant challenges, including the risk of relapse. If you or someone you love has suffered a relapse while recovering from alcoholism or drug abuse, contact Behavioral Rehabilitation Services today at our toll-free number to discuss with a certified substance abuse counselor how you can get your recovery back on track.

Relapse Meaning

Much like a cancer survivor may suffer a recurrence of the disease after a period of remission, known as a relapse, a recovering addict may also relapse, or fall back into old substance abuse patterns after a period of improvement. While some addicts can maintain their sobriety following substance abuse treatment at a rehab facility, others may suffer some significant setbacks before their recovery sticks. It’s important to understand that addiction relapse is common, and it’s not necessarily a sign of failure. In fact, most addicts relapse at least once, and many do so multiple times during the recovery process. Over time, relapses should happen less frequently, until the user no longer experiences such powerful cravings to use.

Relapse Prevention

Although relapse is a normal part of the addiction recovery process, it is important to identify what factors, or triggers, lead to a relapse so you can do everything in your power to avoid or minimize them. For some addicts, their substance abuse is triggered by fear, stress, depression or anxiety, and because using alcohol or drugs acts as a coping mechanism, experiencing these emotions can lead to a relapse. To minimize the impact of these emotions and prevent a relapse, it helps to be aware of these stressors and learn a new way to cope that doesn’t involve substance abuse. For other addicts, just being around certain people and places that remind them of past substance abuse can trigger a relapse.  This trigger usually happens during the beginning stages of recovery, and it may become necessary for them to avoid old friends with whom they used to drink or use drugs.

Moving on After a Relapse

Relapse happens, and it may happen more than once. Rather than viewing a relapse as a total failure and the end of the recovery process, it helps to see it as an opportunity to update and reinforce treatment, to reconsider your recovery strategies and set attainable goals for the future. You may decide to return to inpatient treatment for more counseling and relapse prevention education if you feel you may benefit from additional care and guidance, or you may choose to participate in aftercare treatment, which typically involves attending outpatient counseling sessions a couple of times a week. You may only decide to join a support group where you can share your experiences and concerns with other members of the recovery community.

As a friend or family member of a recovering addict, a relapse does not constitute a betrayal of your trust. In order for your loved one to continue on the path to lifelong recovery, he will need all the love, support, and understanding he can get, no matter how many times he may stumble along the way.

Contact BRS Rehab Today

Research shows that most addicts relapse during the first 90 days in recovery, while the brain is attempting to reverse the rewiring that comes with prolonged substance abuse. Whatever the circumstances of your recovery though, relapse is much easier to prevent when you know what your triggers are and can, therefore, see it coming. For help overcoming a chronic substance abuse disorder, or for more information about relapse and how to prevent it, contact the addiction recovery experts at Behavioral Rehabilitation Services today.

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