Although long-term recovery can be achieved through rehab, drug or alcohol relapse risks are common. Alcohol relapse statistics show that 50% of recovering addicts do experience a depth of relapse within the first few years. Relapse risks do however reduce significantly once recovery has been experienced after 5 years.
It is however important to remember that there are different stages of relapse. Some of those individuals will experience an emotional relapse, which can soon be resolved. Others will experience a mental relapse, sometimes requiring further addiction treatment. A proportion of those will progress to a physical relapse, where drug or alcohol consumption has restarted.
With this in mind, although it is disheartening to relapse, small cravings or symptoms are common, which can soon be controlled. It’s also very important to remember that a relapse doesn’t result in failure. A relapse sometimes cannot be controlled down to the complexities of an addiction as a brain illness.
To understand why relapses happen, the signs of a relapse, and what to do if you relapse, see our below overview. Here at Addiction Advocates, we can help you through your admission process, helping you reach sobriety once again.
Keep in mind that rehabilitation was once achieved. By committing, you can overcome your relapse and once again, recover.
What causes a relapse?
Relapse risks occur down to a number of different factors. It is understandable why some individuals will struggle with the initial few years, post recovery. For some individuals, an addiction can be deeply ingrained, requiring significant treatment. For others, a small slip up can result in an emotional relapse. It is important to remember that we are all human, that small changes can have a large impact on our lives.
Common causations of a relapse include:
Stress is common in everyday life. Drugs or alcohol are usually used as a coping strategy to work through stress. By experiencing stressful emotions, higher risks of relapse are present down to the high likelihood of avoiding healthy, positive coping strategies.
- A challenging transition
Some individuals will unfortunately struggle to transition from rehab to their new reality. For some clients, drug and alcohol abuse may have been their only way of life, also impacting who they spend their time with and their responsibilities. Attempting to adapt to new responsibilities and routines can unfortunately be challenging, sometimes leading to a relapse.
- A loss of focus
Post-rehab, focus must be present. Recovering addicts must actively maintain their healthy lifestyle, their recommended routines, their new outlook on substance abuse. By letting this slip, by losing focus, old habits can unfortunately creep up, presenting themselves as relapse risks.
Not all recovering addicts will have completed rehab for their own sake. Many do enter via a family referral. Some recovering addicts can turn back to drugs or alcohol once the spotlight has dimmed. As a lack of commitment was initially placed into recovering, this can slip, soon turning into resentment.
Developing an addiction can sometimes happen easily, under the surface. This is very similar when considering relapse risks. With this in mind, familiarising yourself with the stages of relapse, along with common signs will be advised.
The stages of a relapse
There are three common stages of relapse, ranging from a mild lapse, to physical drug and alcohol abuse. Understanding each, their signs and what to do if you relapse is advised to reduce its impact.
Many addictions are fuelled by emotions. Although psychological recovery can be achieved through therapy, some associated emotions can remain, taking much longer to heal. For some, these emotions can result in a relapse, where behaviours or thoughts will begin to dwindle. The thought of consuming alcohol or drugs may arise in order to subsidise those emotions.
Common signs of an emotional relapse include anxiety, isolation, insomnia and irritability.
If an emotional relapse continues, it’s likely that you’ll progress to the mental stage. In this moment, it is likely that your heart will tell you to remain sober, while your head will be tricking you to consume one drink. However, through experience, one drink will not be possible and shouldn’t be justified.
If you’re experiencing the emotional signs of a relapse, along with focusing on the positives of substance abuse, a mental relapse may be present.
If a mental relapse is enabled, there is a high risk that a physical relapse will take place. This is where drug or alcohol consumption will happen. A large proportion of individuals will source support with the regret of relapsing. However, some will struggle to admit their relapse, soon beginning the cycle of addiction.
What to do if you relapse
If you’ve relapsed, and you’re wondering what to do, we have a number of proactive steps that you should take. These steps will help you get back onto a road of rehabilitation.
- Acknowledge your relapse: Although it may initially be hard to face up to your relapse, it is important that you do. It may currently feel like the end of the world, yet a small slip can be reverted and worked on. Focusing on your recovery so far should be prioritised.
- Reach out for support: Your loved ones will want to support you through this transition. While you may struggle to share your relapse, it is important that you remain honest with yourself and with your support network.
- Accept further treatment: If a relapse is encountered, it is likely that further rehabilitation efforts will be required. This however may be available in a mild form through outpatient care. If you do experience a physical relapse which changes your life once again, visiting a rehab centre will be advised.
- Utilise your relapse prevention plan: Through treatment, you will develop a relapse prevention plan in case of a lapse. Here you will have a plan in place to support you if cravings do develop. You’ll be stabilised and understand its importance, you’ll learn about relapse, its normalisation and what to do if you relapse again. You’ll also be provided with a new recovery plan to progress you through sobriety once again.
Understandably, experiencing a relapse can be very disheartening. However, you’ve already come very far, turning your life around through recovery. A relapse can happen to anyone, for a number of reasons. The important lesson is that you learn from any relapse risks, soon helping you maintain sober living.
Once healthy routines, lifestyle choices and outlooks are developed, if you can maintain them, you will be at a lower risk of experiencing relapse. If you do however find yourself in the situation of a relapse, we can help you get back on track here at Addiction Advocates.