Why do I Keep Relapsing?

Authored by Pin Ng

Edited by Alexander Bentley

Reviewed by Michael Por

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Why do I keep relapsing?

 

Full relapse, or the risk of relapsing into drugs and/or alcohol use is a part of the journey to full recovery. Addiction takes time to end and it may take several rehab experiences to finally overcome your addiction. There is a common misconception amongst people who have never been to rehab that just walking into a treatment center’s doors will magically heal you11.B. Peacs, Treatment and Recovery | National Institute on Drug Abuse, National Institute on Drug Abuse.; Retrieved October 8, 2022, from https://nida.nih.gov/publications/drugs-brains-behavior-science-addiction/treatment-recovery. Yet, a strong commitment and ongoing treatment is needed to deliver you to full-time sobriety.

 

Research has found that up to 60% of people that leave residential drug and alcohol rehab relapse in the first three months after ending their program22.J. Menon and A. Kandasamy, Relapse prevention – PMC, PubMed Central (PMC).; Retrieved October 8, 2022, from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5844157/. Going to rehab for a month’s worth of treatment doesn’t automatically “fix” you. Coping strategies are needed and attending rehab more than once may be needed to get these coping strategies to stick.

Reasons for Relapsing

 

There are multiple reasons for you relapsing on drugs and/or alcohol. It can be maddening to relapse after a long period of sobriety and seemingly irresistible urges can occur out of nowhere.

 

Common reasons you may relapse on drugs and alcohol

 

Stress

 

Stress and burnout is often the main reason people relapse. Many people struggle to cope with stress properly and immediately turn back to the substances that help them relax. Most people use drugs and/or alcohol to cope with the stresses of life33.E. Kabisa, E. Biracyaza, J. d’Amour Habagusenga and A. Umubyeyi, Determinants and prevalence of relapse among patients with substance use disorders: case of Icyizere Psychotherapeutic Centre – Substance Abuse Treatment, Prevention, and Policy, BioMed Central.; Retrieved October 8, 2022, from https://substanceabusepolicy.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/s13011-021-00347-0. Stress may be caused by relationships, work, or family. Re-adjusting to life after rehab may also cause stress that leads to a relapse.

 

If you can learn to cope with stress in healthy ways, you give yourself the chance to continue your sobriety. Positive coping skills may include spending time outdoors, exercise, painting, writing, reading, and other activities that engage you physically and mentally.

 

Lack of Support in Addiction Recovery

 

You will need strong support system to aid your recover from addiction. Support networks are important to have in recovery and they can hold you accountable for your actions. Rehab and recovery are nearly impossible to accomplish alone.

 

It is vital to have someone to turn to for help. Many of the individuals seeking treatment have burned bridges with friends and family. It is common for people to have damaged relationship that need mending. You may need to find a new support network with a sober coach or 12-step group post rehab. A support group could be the thing to keep you on the straight and narrow.

 

Undiagnosed Mental Health Disorders

 

There is always a root cause to addiction. Mental health issues are typically a root cause to addiction. Not all mental health issues are diagnosed. Issues such as anxiety and depression may go undiagnosed leading to your addiction issues. Even diagnosed mental health issues can lead to addiction and relapse.

 

Trouble Working with Rehab Program

 

All addictions are unique just like the people who suffer from the addiction. Your needed for treatment are different to the needs of others. You may not have clicked with a rehab program because it didn’t address your unique needs. You need to find a program that fits your needs, which could lower your chances of relapsing on drugs and/or alcohol.

Warning signs of a relapse

 

There are several signs and symptoms that take place when a relapse is about to occur. If you know the signs of relapse, it will help you prevent falling back into addiction before it happens. It is important to use your support network, if you feel a relapse is about to happen. The symptoms may be overwhelming and the best solution could be voluntarily checking into a rehab center.

 

Relapse signs include:

 

  • An Increase in stress
  • Overconfidence during sobriety
  • Not keeping up with substance abuse treatment or aftercare guidelines
  • Changing your daily routine and getting out of good habits
  • Irrational decision-making
  • Changes in your social circle
  • Not putting sobriety first in your life

 

How to stop relapsing

 

The best way to stop a relapse before it occurs is to plan and prevent. These are two key components of long-term sobriety.

 

If you relapse take these steps to prevent it from occurring again:

 

Change your treatment methods

 

If the recovery program you initially picked didn’t stick, it could be time to switch to a different one such as SMART recovery. Entering the same treatment program only to continue relapsing proves that you need a new method for recovery. There are several different methods to treat addiction. Try something new if the only methods aren’t working.

 

Check into inpatient rehab

 

It has been proven that long-term residential rehab helps people take sobriety more seriously. It has also been shown that residential rehab is more effective than outpatient care. If you remove yourself from the everyday life and the environments that created addiction by committing fully to treatment, you are more driven and motivated to stay clean and sober.

 

Surround yourself with positive support

 

A positive support system will help you stay on the straight and narrow. Positive support networks make you accountable to your actions.

 

Identify personal triggers

 

Locating the reasons for your relapse is key to recovery. Identifying why you used allows for proper safeguards to be put in place to prevent further relapses. If the triggers that brought on your relapse are found, the same triggers can be eliminated for the future.

 

The more you know about our personal triggers and warning signs, the easier it may be to understand if a relapse is on the horizon. A relapse prevention plan could be an effective tool to ensure another relapse does not happen. You cannot guarantee a relapse won’t occur. It is very important to learn about the stages of addiction and how they can impact relapse and recovery.

 

Lower the risk of relapse

 

You can put precautions in place to lower your risk of a relapse. This is the best way to treat falling back into the old traps of addiction. It is up to you to recognize that a relapse is serious and must be addressed immediately. Relapsing is not a failure, but each time you relapse it provides the potential to fall back into destructive behaviors full-time.

 

Next: California Sober Explained

  • 1
    1.B. Peacs, Treatment and Recovery | National Institute on Drug Abuse, National Institute on Drug Abuse.; Retrieved October 8, 2022, from https://nida.nih.gov/publications/drugs-brains-behavior-science-addiction/treatment-recovery
  • 2
    2.J. Menon and A. Kandasamy, Relapse prevention – PMC, PubMed Central (PMC).; Retrieved October 8, 2022, from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5844157/
  • 3
    3.E. Kabisa, E. Biracyaza, J. d’Amour Habagusenga and A. Umubyeyi, Determinants and prevalence of relapse among patients with substance use disorders: case of Icyizere Psychotherapeutic Centre – Substance Abuse Treatment, Prevention, and Policy, BioMed Central.; Retrieved October 8, 2022, from https://substanceabusepolicy.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/s13011-021-00347-0
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