Our Blog

what is a relapse

What Is a Relapse?

Addiction is a complicated disease, and even when you think recovery is going smoothly, challenges can still emerge. According to statistics from the National Institute of Drug Abuse, up to 60% of people who struggle with substance use disorders will experience a relapse – or a return to drinking or drug use after a period of sustained sobriety.

Understanding Addiction Relapse

Though many people think of relapse as a single isolated event, it’s a gradual process that happens in three stages – emotional, mental and physical. The goal of relapse prevention is to provide recovering addicts with techniques to manage all three phases.

When stress, sadness or trauma cause emotional upheaval, there are a few red flags:

  • Feelings of isolation
  • Ignoring the need for self-care
  • Repressing emotions
  • Not having enough energy to complete regular daily tasks

Here are some typical mental relapse triggers to watch for:

  • Lying to others to hide your drug use
  • Justifying your “need” to use drugs
  • Romanticizing the addiction
  • Ignoring all the negative consequences of drug use
  • Telling yourself you will only drink or use the drug once

Some of the most obvious warning signs of relapse are physical. Recognizing these as early as possible is essential to preventing an impending backslide into alcohol or drug use.

  • Seeking addictive substances
  • Contacting drug dealers
  • Skipping support group meetings
  • Getting back together with old drinking or drug buddies

Identifying Relapse Triggers

Triggers represent a significant risk to your well-being in recovery. Part of successfully managing your illness over the long term involves maintaining a mental list of these threats and how they might affect you. Boredom, stress, loneliness and fatigue are among the most common relapse triggers. Others can include people, places and situations that remind you of when you were actively drinking or using.

You can manage your relapse triggers with healthy coping strategies like exercise, meditation, journaling, volunteering and learning how to take better care of yourself. Remember, it’s possible to reverse the brain changes caused by addiction with time and patience. Finding new, rewarding hobbies is one way to accomplish this goal. Asking supportive loved ones for their help is another.

Where to Make Recovery a Reality

If you relapse in recovery, you are not alone, and you haven’t failed. By maintaining a positive attitude and looking back at how far you’ve come, you can reframe your setback as an opportunity.

Some people relapse because they didn’t adequately address the root causes of their addictive behavior, while others have trouble managing triggers and cravings. At Vista Taos, we are here for you when you are ready to make a fresh start, whether you are starting a treatment program for the first time or returning to rehab after experiencing a relapse. To start your new, substance-free life, contact us today. Our accredited, family-owned center offers holistic addiction rehab services in Taos, New Mexico.

Share this post