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What Happens if I Relapse? – Addiction Center

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No matter how diligently you pursue your recovery or how committed you are to lifelong sobriety, there is a chance you will relapse at some point.
According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, relapse rates while in recovery are 40 to 60%.
After a relapse, many people experience feelings of shame or regret. Furthermore, you may feel like giving up the fight and giving into your addiction rather than continuing to work hard and overcome the fleeting desire to use. These are normal, but can create challenges to creating a drug-free life.
Instead, use this relapse as a learning tool; clarify your relapse prevention plan and identify your triggers. By digging deeper into the root cause of the relapse, you will lay the foundation for a recovery that will ensure you bounce back stronger than ever.
Relapse after a period of sobriety is an unfortunately common occurrence. Approximately half of all recovering addicts experience a temporary moment of weakness that results in picking up drugs or alcohol again. Knowing some of the red flags can help you avoid this.
Signs that may predict an upcoming relapse include but are not limited to:
Remembering to have a support group of family and friends can help keep you focused on healing. They can provide stable foundation and encourage discipline or compassion needed in this time.
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The first step is to determine whether you need to go back to rehab. If it was an isolated incident and you’re committed to examining or adjusting your recovery care plan, you may not need to go back to an inpatient facility. This offers the patient hands on treatment and ongoing supervision.
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However, if you’ve fallen back into a continued pattern of substance abuse, you might need to get back into a strict treatment program. If you find yourself talking about using substances, hang out with people who encourage you to drink, or fall back into substance abuse to cope, this is a sign of a bigger problem needing immediate treatment.
I’ve relapsed many times but this was the longest I’ve stayed sober. If I could do this, anyone could. I almost died, almost went back to jail, almost lost everything [that] I worked so hard to protect. But you can make it back. I did.
Upon returning to treatment, this time should have a deeper emphasis on therapy, particularly cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), which has been successful in teaching recovering addicts new behavioral responses to distorted thinking. Other forms of therapy to explore that are available at many treatment programs include art and music therapy, yoga and relaxation techniques, physical fitness and even equine therapy. After treatment, you can continue to use these strategies and tools to maintain a stress-free life, additionally using these methods to cope with depression, grief, anxiety or anger.
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From the moment you enter treatment after a relapse, the focus should be on the transition back to regular life. You may find that your best option for avoiding relapse is entering a sober living environment for a few months, where accountability and discipline help during those vulnerable first months post-treatment. Also, it would be advantageous to be prepared with an outpatient plan for continuing therapy after you leave.
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Addiction Center is not affiliated with any insurance.
If you’ve already gone through treatment and are struggling with the potential or reality of relapse, there is help available. There are several treatment programs that can help patients reach sustained sobriety.  Don’t allow relapse to keep you silent or in a cycle of substance abuse.
Contact a treatment provider to discuss available treatment options today.
Last Edited: October 29, 2021
Jeffrey Juergens
Jeffrey Juergens earned his Bachelor’s and Juris Doctor from the University of Florida. Jeffrey’s desire to help others led him to focus on economic and social development and policy making. After graduation, he decided to pursue his passion of writing and editing. Jeffrey’s mission is to educate and inform the public on addiction issues and help those in need of treatment find the best option for them.
Clinically Reviewed: January 28, 2019
David Hampton
All of the information on this page has been reviewed and verified by a certified addiction professional.
David embarked on his journey into sobriety in June of 2005, which led him to his current career path as a Certified Professional Addiction Recovery Coach in private practice in Greater Nashville. David is also a public speaker and the author of two books. David is cohost of the weekly Positive Sobriety Podcast, as well as being a frequent contributor to various articles and recovery based materials. As a member of the National Association of Alcohol and Drug Abuse Counselors (NAADAC), David works closely with Nashville area treatment centers, nonprofit recovery organizations, and consulting with faith-based groups trying to bridge the gap between the recovery communities and faith-based organizations who wish to understand addiction.
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