Drug Addiction Relapse & Prevention

Relapse is a normal part of the recovery process for people battling addiction and is not a sign of personal failure or that treatment didn’t work. Often, a relapse or return to substance use means that someone needs to come back to rehab or adjustments should be made to their current treatment or aftercare plan.1,2

Read on to learn more about the risk of relapse, relapse prevention, and how to get help if you or a loved one is struggling with addiction.

Drug Addiction Relapse Risk Factors

While there are no clear causes of relapse, there are many identified risk factors that could make relapse more likely. These risk factors can generally be categorized as psychosocial, behavioral, and environmental in nature. Some of the most common risk factors include:3

  • Stress.
  • Anxiety.
  • Depression.
  • Boredom.
  • Isolation.
  • Lack of coping skills.
  • Low self-efficacy (not believing you can do it).
  • HALT (being Hungry, Angry, Lonely, or Tired).

Evidence also shows that certain biological markers can make people more prone to relapse. Research is still being done in this area to identify these risk factors and design interventions to help interrupt the relapse process.4

The recognition of biological factors provides additional perspective regarding relapse and addiction, indicating that relapse is not a moral failure or lack of willpower but part of a chronic brain disorder that requires effective treatment.1,4

How Common Is Addiction Relapse?

Relapse is a very common part of recovery from addiction, which, by definition, is considered a chronic, “relapsing” disorder.6

Addiction relapse rates are comparable to rates of relapse for other chronic diseases, such as asthma and hypertension (high blood pressure).2

Although relapse is not uncommon, it can be dangerous. Developing and implementing relapse prevention strategies can be vital in the recovery process.2

Relapse Prevention Strategies

Once someone has stopped using a substance and begun the recovery process, relapse prevention can be an important part of their treatment plan. Relapse prevention tips include:3

  • Be aware of the beginning stages of relapse and the warning signs.
  • Know your personal triggers (the internal and external cues that make you want to use).
  • Look for changes in your attitude, behavior, emotions, and thoughts that might signal you’re moving toward relapse.
  • Identify the places and situations that are the highest risk for you.
  • Develop a strong support network (friends, family, recovery groups, faith communities, etc.).
  • Take care of your mental health and learn to manage negative emotions.
  • Learn to challenge thoughts that can lead to giving up (cognitive distortions), such as all-or-nothing thinking, catastrophizing, etc.
  • Watch for signs of HALT and promptly address those needs.
  • Develop positive habits and healthy activities that can replace substance use (e.g., exercise, nutrition, and meditation).
  • Explore the possibility of treatment medications with your doctor.

What to Do if I Relapse

If you relapse, reach out to your doctor, sponsor, or support network, and make a plan to get back on track. The most appropriate course of care will vary depending on your individual needs.7

For some people, this could mean:7

  • Returning to inpatient rehab.
  • Finding an outpatient program.
  • Meeting with a therapist.
  • Moving into a sober living facility.
  • Resuming involvement with a mutual support group like AA or NA.

Most importantly, don’t give up. It’s easy to feel down and maybe even hopeless when a lapse or relapse occurs.

This can be a vulnerable time in the recovery process and an especially important time to recognize all the progress that you have made. A relapse doesn’t erase all the things you’ve learned about yourself along the way or the coping and other skills you’ve acquired.3

Relapse can be a learning experience in and of itself and may offer insight into what you need to stay in recovery.3

Addiction Relapse Prevention Programs in Texas

If you or a loved one has lost control of their drinking or drug use, professional treatment can help. At Greenhouse Treatment Center, we offer different types of rehab designed to meet the individual needs of each patient.

We also provide specialized programs for Veterans, first responders, the LGBTQ community, Christians, young adults, and trauma survivors. These programs help patients connect with peers and staff who understand their unique circumstances and recovery challenges.

All treatment plans include relapse prevention and aftercare planning, which ensure patients have the support and resources necessary for continued success after rehab ends. These resources include a sober living residence, alumni program, and alumni app that keep people connected to our expansive recovery community.

To learn more about our inpatient rehab near Dallas or start the admissions process, call us at today.

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