Why Addicts Relapse?

Relapse is a part of the cycle in recovery from addiction to drugs and alcohol. For those in early recovery, the risk of relapse is especially high. If you relapse during your recovery, you might feel like giving up or that all hope of getting better is lost. Many in recovery who relapse use the experience to better understand their treatment needs and continue to find success throughout recovery. Understanding why addicts relapse is critical to prevention and to regain a feeling of hope about achieving lifelong recovery.

Remember that you are not alone. Addiction is a complex, chronic disorder that can go through various cycles of health and relapse. Each time you get back into treatment following a relapse, you commit to the healthy and fulfilling life you deserve.

What Is Relapse?

A relapse is a return of symptoms from a chronic mental or physical health disorder. Some disorders do not have cures, and you must continue treatment to maintain your health. Addiction is considered a relapsing disorder like diabetes, hypertension, or asthma. When you stop treating a relapsing disorder, you put yourself at a greater risk of relapse. Since relapsing disorders require you to change lifelong habits and beliefs, you might relapse a few times before these new habits become natural to you.

According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), the relapse rates for addiction are about 40-60%, which means that a recovering addict is highly likely to relapse at least once. A relapse doesn’t mean that you failed. You can examine the causes of your relapse to improve your treatment outcomes throughout your recovery.

Stages Faced When Addicts Relapse

Relapse occurs in three stages: emotional, mental, and physical. Understanding the stages of relapse can help prevent a full relapse by knowing what stage you or a loved one are in and getting support before things get worse. Learn more about the three stages of why addicts relapse below:

  1. Emotional relapse occurs when you stop caring for your emotional health needs. You might stop attending peer support groups or attend without participating. You might also stop going to therapy and additional mental health services.
  2. Mental relapse means that you are thinking about using drugs or alcohol often. You might be thinking of your past and minimizing the negative impact of addiction. You could start thinking of ways to begin using again during this stage.
  3. Physical relapse is the stage where you start using drugs or drinking alcohol again. You might slip in a momentarily lapse of judgment, or you could begin gradually using again, getting closer and closer to your pre-treatment addictive behaviors.

By catching these patterns before you physically relapse, you can minimize the negative consequences. By staying consistent in your treatment plan, finding new ways to engage in the recovery process, and focusing on healthy lifestyle habits, you can minimize the risk of a relapse.

What Are the Signs of Addicts Relapsing?

The following are signs of relapse or warning signs that a physical relapse could occur:

  • Stop attending recovery meetings
  • No longer participating in groups (going to meetings but not engaged)
  • Canceling or skipping appointments with mental health professionals
  • Thinking about people and places associated with drug or alcohol use
  • Contacting or spending time with people who continue to abuse substances
  • Changes in eating or sleeping habits
  • Feeling like nothing matters, which could be reflected in a sloppy appearance or lack of hygiene 
  • Minimizing the consequences that substance abuse has had in your life
  • Glorifying your past behaviors related to substance use
  • Progressively putting yourself in situations where drug and alcohol use are present without any safety plans to manage relapse triggers

When you notice signs like these, you could be on your way toward a relapse. When you see these signs early, it is best to take action to prevent your relapse from getting worse. Recovering addicts might even become overly confident after years of success, which could also put you at high risk. 

If you feel complacent in your treatment, you can reach out for help or change things up to keep your recovery fresh.

Reasons Why Addicts Relapse

Recovery is a lifelong journey, and life is full of ups and downs that can potentially trigger a relapse for addicts in recovery. The following are some of the most common reasons that addicts relapse during their recovery:

  • Withdrawal symptoms can continue after detox for some addicts. If you struggle with withdrawal symptoms, talk to your treatment team about options to deal with continuing cravings and urges.
  • Untreated mental health issues can lead to a relapse, as mental health problems are a common underlying cause of addiction.
  • Physical health problems can create issues in your life, like chronic pain or mood changes. You might begin using drugs or drinking again to self-medicate for these issues.
  • Significant life changes can cause stress and anxiety that you might not be able to handle alone. You might lose a job, move, go through a breakup, or lose a loved one, which could cause you to spiral and relapse.

Drug and Alcohol Relapse Treatment in South Florida

If you relapse during your addiction recovery, remember that you are not alone, and relapse is a part of the recovery cycle. Ambrosia Treatment Center of South Florida provides support for all levels of addiction recovery, from initial detox to relapse recovery. Call us today or visit our admissions page for more.

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