Relapse After Addiction: Causes and Prevention

Helping clients avoid high-risk situations is an important goal of therapy. Clinical experience has shown that individuals have a hard time identifying their high-risk situations and believing that they are high-risk. Sometimes they think that avoiding high-risk situations is a sign of weakness. The transition between emotional and mental relapse is not arbitrary, but the natural consequence of prolonged, poor self-care.

  • In the face of a craving, it is possible to outsmart it by negotiating with yourself a delay in use.
  • It’s fine to acknowledge them, but not to dwell on them, because they could hinder the most important action to take immediately—seeking help.
  • You can learn about the best relapse-prevention treatment options for your needs.
  • Surround yourself with a strong support system of friends, family, and sober acquaintances.

One such neurotransmitter, dopamine, reinforces the connection between drug use, pleasure, and any external triggers that remind the user of the substance. Over time, these dopamine surges teach the brain to seek the drug or alcohol any time the user encounters a trigger. Another form of relapse is a “lapse.” A person lapsing may have one or two drinks then return to sobriety. While it is more controlled and brief than a full relapse, a series of lapses can easily progress to relapse. Focus on how much better your life will be once you stop using drugs or alcohol for good. Think about what’s driving you to quit, such as rebuilding damaged relationships, keeping a job, or getting healthy again.

Identifying Your Personal Triggers

This can be done by setting up and following a structured sleep, exercise, and eating schedule. By doing this, one can retrain the body to sleep better and will also help reduce the risk of relapse. Numerous studies have shown that mind-body relaxation reduces the use of drugs and alcohol and is effective in long-term relapse prevention [28,29]. Relapse-prevention therapy and mind-body relaxation are commonly combined into mindfulness-based relapse prevention [30].

You must also develop healthy coping skills and an effective relapse prevention plan. Recovery benefits from a detailed relapse prevention plan kept in a handy place—next to your phone charger, taped to the refrigerator door or the inside of a medicine cabinet—for immediate access when cravings hit. Such a plan helps minimize the likelihood of lapses in the future.

Manage withdrawal symptoms

Sharing the list with the treatment team can provide them with needed information to prevent relapse in the patient. However, relapse can be an opportunity to reset, develop clear needs and goals, and continue. Refocusing on recovery and further relapse prevention with a care team is crucial. Once this happens, it may not be easy to control behavior or stop using. At this stage, working toward avoiding triggers or high-risk situations in which relapse could occur is critical.

  • It can also result in intense cravings that then continue to further use.
  • Calls to our general hotline may be answered by private treatment providers.
  • Too, maintaining healthy practices, especially getting abundant sleep, fortifies the ability to ride out cravings and summon coping skills in crisis situations, when they are needed most.
  • Therapy not only gives people insight into their vulnerabilities but teaches them  healthy tools for handling emotional distress.
  • The repair stage of recovery was about catching up, and the growth stage is about moving forward.
  • A missing piece of the puzzle for many clients is understanding the difference between selfishness and self-care.

Sometimes, lapses are helpful in making a person more aware of their triggers and ways they need to work on being prepared to handle them. Other times, lapses can fool a person into thinking they can use the substance again and that “things will be different this time,” when often, this will lead back to problematic use. Equally important is to learn to identify situations that carry high risk of relapse and to develop very specific strategies for dealing with each of them. High-risk situations include both internal experiences—positive memories of using or negative thoughts about the difficulty of resisting impulses—and situational cues. The path to sobriety comes with challenges, and many recovery journeys include a period of relapse into alcohol or drug use.

What Are The Three Stages of Relapse?

They can be obstacles to recovery, because individuals may feel that they have been damaged by their addiction and they don’t deserve recovery or happiness. Clinical experience has shown that self-help groups help individuals overcome their guilt and shame of addiction by seeing that they are not alone. 5) People think that they have a better understanding of drugs and alcohol and, therefore, think they should be able to control a relapse or avoid the negative consequences.