Does Relapse Happen for Everyone?

 In Recovery

In addiction recovery, relapse is not uncommon and in some cases, it is even expected. Addiction is the compulsive use of substances even with harmful consequences. Relapse happens when a person who was once clean and sober has slipped back into substance use.

Just because relapse is common doesn’t mean everyone experiences it. When you know the proper precautions to take, you will be able to better avoid and prevent any potential relapse.

Is Relapse an Expectation?

It is very common for people to believe that after completing a recovery program, their journey toward sobriety is complete. However, once substances have affected the brain, they produce lasting effects that can cause cravings even long after they have left your system. Therefore, recovery is considered a lifelong journey that will take daily commitment to live a drug-free lifestyle.

You may ask yourself if relapse is inevitable after completing treatment and getting sober. The short answer is no, it is not inevitable. Although not everyone finds themselves falling back into the grip of substance abuse, it is very common and more or less expected that someone will experience a relapse after concluding regular treatment or therapy and going back to their previous environment. Therefore, it is best to understand the risk factors and chance of relapse so that you can take precautionary steps to avoid reverting to old habits.

Relapse is best beaten by preventing it all together rather than trying to break out of it once it has occurred. Do your best to understand what might cause you to relapse so you can prevent it and thereby avoid the temptation to use or drink again.

The Best Ways to Avoid Relapse

There are a variety of different things you can do to give yourself the strength to not give in to temptation or triggers.

Have a support network. Having people around you that encourage your continued sobriety is incredibly beneficial to your recovery process. If you attended inpatient rehab or other recovery programs, your friends and family are likely aware of your former substance use disorder. Ask them to keep you accountable and on track in sobriety.

Surround yourself with friends and family who are sober and live a drug-free lifestyle. It can be difficult to leave behind relationships formed around addiction, because you may feel as though you truly had connections with these people. Chances are, most of them were just as unhealthy as you were and trauma bonding usually doesn’t remain strong once substances aren’t part of your life anymore. Stepping into more meaningful connections will help you separate yourself from the lifestyle you once lived.

Stress management. Learning how to reduce and manage stress will prevent you from seeking out something to help you cope with that stress–in essence, drugs and alcohol. Making lifestyle changes like cleaner eating, better sleep habits, meditation, journaling, getting active, and other techniques can help you lead a healthier and happier life.

Daily responsibilities like your job and finances can add a great amount of stress to your plate. Evaluate your work environment to determine if there is unnecessary stress there and make changes as needed. Being financially responsible by not overspending and taking care of bills when you need to, takes the pressure off you financially. If other appointments or duties in your life are more than you can handle, ask for help from people you trust.

Identify triggers. Triggers are a big cause of relapse. Triggers can be emotions such as sadness, loneliness, depression, happiness, and excitement. In the past, substance use may have been a band-aid for your feelings, and now those emotions can come with cravings. Triggers can also be people, places, anniversaries, and events. Anything that you associated drug use with in the past can be a potential trigger later on. Identifying what can cause a relapse allows you to avoid and prevent it.

Overcoming Relapse

If you do happen to relapse, try to avoid thinking that you have failed or that hope is lostYou have simply made a mistake, and the road to recovery allows for mistakes. See this stumbling point as an opportunity to learn and re-evaluate your aftercare plan. Professional help can get you back on track to sobriety and living an independent lifestyle. If you have become completely addicted again, it will be necessary to detox with the proper help.

If you haven’t already, you should look into creating an aftercare plan. Outpatient recovery programs can consist of intensive outpatient programs, partial hospitalization, day programs, therapy, and support groups. Talk with your mental health professional about what programs would best suit you and help you transition back into daily living.

The thought of relapse after you have gone through treatment and achieved sobriety may be disheartening and you may feel unprepared for if cravings make a reappearance. Although relapse is expected and common once you are on your own, knowing how to avoid being triggered back into substance use can prevent relapses. Mountain Peak Recovery offers aftercare services through our outpatient programs that give you the resources to maintain sobriety. Seeking professionals after experiencing a relapse is vital to getting back on track to a drug-free lifestyle. Trying to get back on your feet after having to stay in inpatient rehab is difficult to do on your own, which is why we are here to give you that extra support. We are available to help you through therapeutic services to get back on track toward sobriety. Give us a call at (801) 824-8829 to get the help you need today. 

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