Close-up of psychiatrist hands together holding palm of her patient Even the most diligent individual who is committed to long-term sobriety has a chance of relapsing. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, relapse rates while in recovery are between 40%-60%. After a relapse occurs, many individuals experience feelings of regret or shame. 

Furthermore, it’s very common that you might feel like giving up the fight and succumbing to your addiction rather than continuing to engage in the necessary hard work and overcome the fading desire to use. These are considered to be normal feelings but can present obstacles to creating a sober lifestyle. Instead, it’s recommended that the challenges, also known as relapses, are utilized as a learning experience.

The first course of action to pursue is clarifying the overall relapse prevention plan. Secondly, identify your triggers. By digger deeper into the root cause of the individual’s relapse, the foundation for recovery will ensure the person struggling can come back even stronger. In today’s blog, Is relapse a part of recovery will be thoroughly answered, along with what to do after a relapse. 

What Is Relapse?

Generally, relapse occurs after a sobriety period and it’s considered an unfortunately common occurrence. Roughly half of recovering individuals undergo a temporary, weak moment that results in resorting back to drug and alcohol use again. Some of the red flags are listed below:

These are the signs that will help you predict if an impending relapse is coming:

  • When an individual doesn’t have a support system. A newly sober individual must have a solidified support system because it can make a huge difference between relapsing back into addiction or continuing down the road of recovery. Also, having a support group that has other individuals in recovery is extremely paramount. 
  • Not being able to make sobriety the top priority. If an individual doesn’t acquire a solid commitment to engaging in deep-rooted sobriety, that person is more likely to relapse. To be successful, the individual must be willing to engage in the required hard work to stay sober. This might include having a dedicated sponsor, attending 12-step meetings, and getting counseling or therapy for possible co-occurring mental health conditions such as anxiety and/or depression. 
  • When an individual isn’t prepared for their livelihood post-treatment. It is considered crucial to engage in creating a relapse prevention plan for individuals who are adapting back to their regular lifestyle after treatment. It is also pivotal to understand how specific situations can ultimately sabotage sobriety, such as toxic friendships, unhealthy daily routines, social isolation, and family dynamics. Recognizing triggers in the early stage can assist a person in protecting themselves and their overall newfound sobriety. 
  • Not wanting to quit the substance or drug use for yourself. In a few cases, the individual typically enters treatment in an attempt to please those around them, such as their friends or family, rather than being dedicated to quitting for their benefit. Until that individual desires to quit for themselves, the overall risk of relapse will be higher. 

What Is Addiction?

Addiction is considered a disease. A huge reason that relapse is considered to be expressive of failure is aimed toward alcohol and drug addiction being a chronic relapsing illness. Experts have reported that the research supports addiction being a brain disease since it weakens an individual brian’s ability to do the following: 

  • Increase an individual’s response to stress
  • Experience motivation and pleasure
  • Creates unpleasant emotions and cravings when the cravings go unsatisfied
  • Impairs the functioning of brain regions that are associated with making decisions, regulating behaviors, and controlling inhibitions 

Since addiction is considered a disease, it affects the way an individual’s brain works. Relapse is also considered a part of the disease. There are a few points to remember about relapse. 

Recovery Is a Lifelong Journey 

It’s essential to remember recovery is considered a long-lasting process and journey. There was one expert that explained that recovery is considered more of a form of remission where relapse is still possible. Recovery can mean that a person is making progress, but not exactly cured. 

Remember that your recovery journey is considered an evolving process, not a single event where you are instantly cured and will never experience a relapse ever again. 

Relapse Is a Sign You Need to Alter Treatment 

Instead of viewing relapse as a failure, it can be a sign that it is time to make the necessary changes to the treatment plan. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, a relapse suggests that an individual in recovery needs to hold a conversation with a professional regarding their treatment being altered and possibly returning to treatment. By developing a relapse prevention plan, helpful strategies can reduce the overall risk of other relapses. 

Researchers have discovered what can make a relapse prevention plan successful. When a relapse prevention plan develops coping skills for dealing with cravings, thoughts surrounding drugs, and stressors, it is considered an effective approach. Relaxation techniques and cognitive therapy can be super helpful relapse prevention interventions. 

Recovery Involves the Process of Building a New Life

Ultimately, it’s essential to understand that the entire recovery process involves creating a sober lifestyle and entirely changing past habits. It’s completely understandable if there are relapses that occur while a person is building a new life for themselves. It was explained by addiction experts that when a person changes their life, it’s considered the first step in the recovery process. 

The above-mentioned process involves avoiding the individuals that you engaged in drug use with, along with avoiding the places where you went for drugs. When an individual is attempting to build a new life, it will require modifying the detrimental thought processes that are associated with substance abuse. Change can indeed be difficult, and relapses might present like road bumps along the way, but it’s possible to live a sober lifestyle with recovery support

How Common Is Relapse?

Relapse is an extremely common factor in the recovery process. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), there were relapse statistics that indicated and show that about 40-60% of individuals relapse after fully completing treatment. This relapse rate is considered comparable to what was seen with physical illnesses such as high blood pressure and asthma, in which the rate of relapse was between 50-70%. 

The overall chances of a relapse occurring after rehab are considered to be somewhat high, further indicating that relapse is a normal part of recovery to answer the question, “Is relapse a part of recovery.” It’s important to remember that it’s not considered an individual failure. 

What to Do After a Relapse?

The first step is to decide whether or not an individual struggling should go back to rehab. If the relapse was considered a secluded occurrence, and the person is committed to modifying or examining their recovery plan, they might not need to attend an inpatient facility. This type of offer grants the patients continuing supervision and immediate treatment. 

However, if an individual has fallen back into a resumed pattern of substance abuse, it’s recommended that the individual might need to resort back to a stern treatment program. If a person finds themselves hanging out with individuals who encourage drinking, talking about substance use, or even falling back into substance abuse as an attempt to cope, this is a sign of a more weighty concern that the person needs prompt treatment. 

Once an individual returns to addiction treatment, there should be a more extensive significance on incorporating therapy, specifically cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT). This form of therapy has been considered successful in implementing and teaching individuals struggling with addiction new behavioral therapies that can assist with their distorted thinking. Various other forms of therapy can be explored that are available at many treatment programs, such as:

  • Yoga and relaxation techniques
  • Music and art therapy
  • Physical fitness

Continuing Treatment

After receiving treatment, an individual can continue to engage in the above-mentioned tools and strategies that can maintain a peaceful life. Additionally, it’s recommended to utilize these methods as a way to cope with grief, anxiety, anger, or depression. From the very moment, an individual struggling with addiction decides to enter treatment after relapse, the primary goal should be to transition back to everyday life. 

It might be that the individual finds that the most ideal option for avoiding relapse is to attend a sober living environment for a couple of months. This type of arrangement excels in offering help in a way of discipline and accountability during the most vulnerable first months after treatment. It would also present to be favorable to be prepared with an outpatient plan for therapy to be continued once the individual leaves. 

Relapse Recovery Program Is Available At Northern Illinois 

If you or someone you know who has been asking the question, “Is relapse a part of recovery,” it is. There are several treatment options available and tips on what to do after a relapse. The treatment programs are present to assist every individual in reaching sustained recovery. Contact us today to get started on your journey.