What Are the Most Common Reasons Behind Relapse?

What Are the Most Common Reasons Behind Relapse?

You probably know that relapse rates for individuals who enter recovery are quite high. However, you might still struggle to understand the why. If the treatment methods are science-based and effective, why do most people relapse after rehab? Addiction recovery is similar to recovery from other chronic diseases, where people can achieve healing and remission, but people with these illnesses may still experience relapses in their condition.

While you may feel disappointed by this reality, know that many people achieve a place of recovery where relapse is a very distant possibility. Moreover, these people generally implement their relapse prevention plans quite effectively. Additionally, you can take heart that people who have reached this state may have had relapses or occasional slips before their recovery stabilized.

How Do You Know That Relapse Is Imminent?

If you are recovering from substance use disorder (SUD), you can likely tell when urges and cravings intensify, leading to emotional relapse, mental relapse, and physical relapse. To stop this process from progressing, you need to avoid triggers and learn to recognize early warning signs.

You are headed down a slippery slope when you neglect your relapse-prevention skills for a few days or weeks. In early recovery, abstinence and sobriety are your top priorities. Protect them by using the habits and activities that keep you on the path of recovery. Then, even if you have an occasional slip, you can correct course; do not allow it to derail you.

Changes in Life May Lead to Triggers

When you complete residential treatment, which usually lasts for a few weeks or months, you will have a transitional phase back into regular life and all the things that come with it. These include stressful work situations, tempting social places, and toxic people. As these are some common triggers, be warned and work with your care team to develop a plan to avoid or manage them.

Evaluate your environment and make a relapse prevention plan. To implement this plan which includes places and people you should avoid, you may also need an accountability partner(s)  who understand addiction recovery. Be honest and straightforward with them about your needs, and allow them to be honest with you if they notice early warning signs of relapse.

Ways to Avoid Emotional Relapse

Because recovery involves hard work, relaxing or neglecting your self-care regimen can cause emotional relapse. For example, it can show in your emotional health if you fall back on old habits of bottling up emotions, avoiding peer support meetings, eating poorly, or spending too much time on social media.

Emotional relapse begins when you feel anxious, stressed, or bored. You gradually lose a sense of groundedness in reality and can become complacent in engaging in good recovery practices. This relapse phase may not seem that important because it is just some lack of self-control, but it is a slippery slope leading to something worse.

To avoid emotional relapse, stay vigilant after transitioning to home life. For example, imagine you are still in residential rehab and stick to the same daily routines. This is not to bog you down in indifference but to remind yourself that these practices are healing your brain from its addicted state. Given time, they will begin to feel natural, even comforting, as they keep you from returning to destructive patterns.

Avoiding Mental and Physical Phases of Relapse

Identifying emotional relapse can help you stop it from progressing further. However, if you lack vigilance, you may go into the next phase of relapse: mental relapse. This is when your mind will begin playing tricks with you. It may remind you of past times when you used substances. At the same time, it may minimize the harm of past use. Unless you actively take steps to reverse course, you could begin to ditch honesty and accountability and resume secretive behaviors.

Is it possible to catch yourself in this moment of weakness? Absolutely—but it’s not easy. Nobody can hold you accountable if you have not kept in touch with peers or intentionally deceived them. Mental relapse has a way of dismantling these helpful structures.

Leaving mental relapse to its own devices can lead to physical relapse: a return to substance use. To prevent physical relapse, consider when you decided to begin treatment. You are now back at that critical point. It may be best to return for more treatment to regain stability.

What to Do After a Relapse

Remember, because many people experience relapse and still achieve a life of recovery, relapse is not the end of the world. You just need to reevaluate and get more support. Unfortunately, even people who have achieved long-term sobriety can experience relapse. This shows again that SUD is a chronic brain disease.

After relapse, do not let shame and guilt overcome you. Many people may find it challenging to get back on the wagon. However, life only starts when you get sober. If you truly desire to recover, give it another try.

The risk of relapse is real, even for people who have achieved years of sobriety. Like the initial development of SUD, relapse has a range of factors, including genetics and environment. Relapse prevention should be your constant mode of life. Laguna Shores Recovery offers strong relapse-prevention planning and an alumni program to help you continue challenging urges and cravings and maintain a fulfilling sober future. We apply evidence-based treatment and adopt an integrated and holistic approach to recovery. Alongside customized treatment plans, family therapy, and support groups, Laguna Shores Recovery also offers aftercare programs that connect you and your loved ones with a community of recovering individuals. Call us at (866) 774-1532 today.