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What You Need to Know About Relapse and Recovery

What Do You Need to Know About Relapse?

Relapse is not uncommon amongst recovering drug addicts. According to the National Institute of Drug Abuse (NIDA), relapse rates range from 40 to 60 percent. It is possible for an addiction to be cured, or managed, but it’s a long journey ahead. An addict may ask themselves, why did I relapse and what does this mean for my recovery?

Relapse Doesn’t Mean Failure at Recovery

Relapsing means that you are slipping back into the former state you were in before going into treatment. It is normal for someone recovering from addiction to lapse back into drug use.

Going through a relapse shows that you must return to the previous treatment, or try a new treatment. You should reevaluate the events that led up to the relapse in order to prevent another one from happening.

Reasons an Addict Relapses

You may relapse when put in a high-risk situation; making you more vulnerable to drug-seeking behavior. Like a domino effect, relapsing is caused by several small events, leading up to one major relapse.

You could be in a high-risk situation and think you are in complete control; next thing you know you are denying to have ever had a problem in the first place. It is important to have preventative measures after treatment in order to reduce the risk of relapsing.

What to Expect Before Relapse

Relapses usually happen gradually over time. You can begin relapsing way before even taking a drug again. Knowing the signs early on will help prevent going back to drug use. The warning signs of a drug relapse can be broken down into three categories: emotional, mental, and physical signs.

  • Emotional Relapse: This is when you are in denial. You are not thinking about using drugs, however, you are putting themselves in a situation for it. Being in denial about relapse will make you feel okay to put yourself in a high-risk situation. If you are in an emotional relapse, you will try to isolate yourself. There will also be signs of lack of eating and sleeping, and no self-care.
  • Mental Relapse: This is where you have an internal struggle with yourself. If you are going through a mental relapse, you want to use drugs again. However, you are struggling with it. Signs of mental relapse include being dishonest, having drug cravings and bargaining with oneself.
  • Physical Relapse: This is the final stage of relapse. It is also the most difficult to recover from. If you have a physical relapse, you have returned to drug use. This stage can also be divided into lapse and relapse.
    • Lapse: Using the drug for the first time.
    • Relapse: Returning to uncontrolled use of drugs.

If you are found facing a physical relapse,  you will start using drugs “just once” or return to uncontrolled use.

Explore our Relapse Prevention Tips to Keep Your Recovery on Track.

When You Return to Drug-Use

If you find yourself relapsing, it is important to ask for help. Relapsing does not mean you have failed. It is all a part of the recovery process. Thinking more positively is just another step toward preventing addictive thoughts. If you can recognize the signs of relapse and are able to seek help, you will soon be on the road to recovery.

Brooks V.
Brooks V.
Brooks has been a freelance journalist for the better part of two decades, as well as spending a decade as a crisis intervention counselor. Through his own work and researching the work of others throughout the many facets of the detox, crisis intervention, and mental health worlds he has been able to tell the stories of those worlds in an effort to help addicts and those with mental illnesses understand and navigate them.