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Reasons Behind Why Many People Relapse

a person dealing with addiction relapse triggers sits on a couch in distress

Relapsing is so common that many believe that to maintain sobriety for years, you have to experience it at least once after treatment. This is not the case. There are plenty of people who have gotten sober after a severe substance use disorder and have stayed sober for years without a return to their old behavioral patterns. Part of the reason why so many individuals relapse is because they feel like relapsing isn’t a big deal or because they feel like it will improve the quality of their sobriety once they do manage to stay sober. Another is that they don’t fully understand their addiction relapse triggers.

Evoke Waltham understands that addiction treatment isn’t the end of recovery. It’s just the beginning. We provide comprehensive aftercare services to help individuals manage their sobriety and lead healthy, successful lives without turning to drugs or alcohol again. Our therapists are trained in relapse prevention therapy, which teaches our patients how to identify situations that may increase their risk of relapse and develop strategies for dealing with them when they arise. Learn more and get started today by calling 866.276.1920.

The Stages of Relapse

The stages of relapse include emotional relapse, mental relapse, and physical relapse.

Emotional Relapse

Emotional relapse involves the feelings that accompany substance use. Typically, this includes a feeling of hopelessness or despair, low self-esteem, and an increased sense of irritability or anger. During emotional relapse, it’s important to remember that these emotions are normal and can be managed without turning to drugs or alcohol as a coping mechanism.

Mental Relapse

Mental relapse consists of planning and preparing to drink or use drugs. This might include fantasizing about using, obsessing over substances, and thinking of excuses as to why you should use. It’s important to recognize these behaviors for what they are and find another way to manage them without turning back on your sobriety journey.

Physical Relapse

Physical relapse is the act of actually drinking or using drugs and picking up where you left off in your addiction. It’s important to remember that relapsing doesn’t mean you’ve failed, but it does mean that you should recognize it as a sign for help and get back to recovery right away.

Why Do So Many People Relapse?

Here are several reasons why so many people relapse after a short stint of sobriety:

  • An underlying and untreated mental health condition like anxiety or depression
  • A failure to keep up with a program of aftercare, which typically includes 12-step program involvement
  • A return to an old living situation or spending time with old friends who might drink or use drugs
  • Extremely high-stress situations
  • Not paying attention to personal addiction relapse triggers
  • Becoming overwhelmed with unpleasant emotions rather than effectively working through these emotions
  • Failing to continue with treatment after medical detox or a lower level of clinical care

The good news is that relapse can always be avoided when the right tools are in place.

How to Prevent a Relapse from Happening

If you want to prevent a relapse from occurring, there are several steps you can take.

First of all, make sure that you enroll in a recognized aftercare program. Most aftercare programs include 12-step program involvement (which includes attending at least one group meeting every day and working through the steps with a sponsor), a continuation of individual therapy, and participating in any holistic treatment methods that have proven successful. This could include yoga therapy, mindfulness meditation, or some level of daily exercise.

If you want to prevent a relapse, you have to get comfortable reaching out for help whenever help is necessary. If you start to feel like you are on shaky ground, reach out to a trusted sober friend and ask for guidance and assistance. Remember that you cannot do it on your own.

If you want to stay sober and avoid relapse, attending a multi-phased program of recovery is always a good idea. This means attending medical detox, inpatient treatment, and intensive outpatient or outpatient treatment. When it comes to your recovery, don’t try to cut corners.

Evoke Waltham and Relapse Prevention

At Evoke Waltham, we put a very strong emphasis on relapse prevention training, seeing as adequate training means the difference between long-term sobriety and a return to negative behavioral patterns. We utilize several proven techniques, helping patients identify their addiction relapse triggers and teaching them how to work through these triggers in real-life situations. If a client is in our intensive outpatient or outpatient treatment programs, they have the opportunity to employ the relapse prevention skills learned in treatment, then openly discuss related experiences in a therapeutic group setting.

If you have been struggling with a repetitive pattern of sobriety and relapse, continuously getting sober but finding it impossible to stay so for an extended period, we are available to help. For more information on relapse prevention or our addiction recovery programs, reach out at 866.276.1920 today. Many of our patients come to us after having struggled with sobriety for years, finding it impossible to stay sober despite their best efforts. We are confident that our program is effective for everyone who remains committed to a new way of life.