Why Relapses Happen And How We Help Prevent Them

Why Relapses Happen And How We Help Prevent Them

Relapse is a scary and misunderstood part of the addiction recovery process. It occurs when someone returns to drugs and alcohol after a period of abstinence. While relapse is a common setback among people in recovery, it does not happen to everyone. The National Institute on Drug Abuse estimates 40-60 percent of people in recovery relapse at some point. These rates are similar to other chronic diseases like diabetes and hypertension. 

Staying sober requires time, patience and diligence, so it’s normal to take steps back at times. The good news is that relapse does not mean holistic outpatient treatment was unsuccessful. However, it does mean that more treatment is needed to work through the issues that led to the relapse.

Stages of Drug and Alcohol Relapse 

Addiction is a chronic disease, meaning that it never fully goes away. This is why you have to work hard to avoid temptation and make the right choices to support a sober lifestyle. If you get complacent or stop going to your 12-step meetings, it’s easier to fall back into old habits. 

What surprises many people is that relapse is not a single event but a process. This is actually a good thing because it allows you to get help from a holistic outpatient treatment rehab before you relapse. With proper intervention, you can prevent the last stage of physically using drugs and alcohol. 

Let’s break down the cycle of relapse. 

  • Emotional stage. This is the stage when the potential for relapse begins. Usually, there are events or situations happening in your life that make you long for drugs and alcohol, such as a death in the family or financial troubles. 
  • Psychological stage. The psychological stage is where bargaining takes place. You might find yourself saying, “I’ll just use once and then stop.” The addictive mind is powerful enough to make you think this is true, but it’s not. Relapse can be dangerous and restart the desire to use again. 
  • Physical stage. The last stage is the physical stage, or the point where you actually use drugs and alcohol. The problem is that these “good” feelings you get from being high last a short time, and then you must face what happened.

girl in bed not feeling well

Why is Relapse So Common in Recovery? 

Completing outpatient rehab for substance abuse is not a guarantee that you will stay sober. This is why treatment centers like Continuum Recovery Center emphasize the importance of an aftercare plan, continued counseling, participation in a 12-step group and healthy lifestyle choices. All of these factors provide you with a strong foundation for maintaining lifelong recovery. 

Here are some reasons why relapses happen so often: 

  • Triggers. Many people return home to the same environment where they used drugs and alcohol. Certain people, places and things from the past can trigger the desire to use again. These triggers are especially profound in early recovery when there isn’t much time between you and your addiction. 
  • Untreated mental illness. Mental illness like depression, anxiety or post-traumatic stress disorder often occur with substance abuse. If these conditions are not properly treated in outpatient rehab drug treatment, they can interfere with your recovery. 
  • Physical pain. Physical pain is sometimes associated with relapse. If you’re struggling with chronic pain, it can wear on your mind and body, increasing the desire to self-medicate with drugs and alcohol. 
  • Stress. Stress is a top reason for relapse, particularly in early recovery. You still lack the coping strategies for dealing with stress, pushing you closer to the comfort of drugs and alcohol. Of course, this is an illusion, but it’s hard to turn off the addictive brain. 

Are there Ways to Prevent Relapse? 

Because relapse is so common, some outpatient treatment centers in Phoenix argue that it’s a normal part of the recovery process. We do not disagree, however, we do not want our clients to feel that they will inevitably relapse. Many people do suffer this setback and it is not failure. But, many people are able to recover without relapsing. 

Building a life that is conducive to sobriety is the best way to stay engaged in your recovery. Here are some important tips to follow. 

  • Keep a list of triggers. Avoid the ones you can and have a plan of action for those you can’t. When you experience one of these triggers without using, offer yourself a small reward like a new book or trip to the movies. 
  • Avoid tempting situations. Make smart choices for yourself. Avoid situations where you know your triggers will be, whether it’s certain people, a specific place or things from your past. 
  • Build a strong support network. Stay in touch with your support circle. Be sure to spend lots of time with them and keep the lines of communication open. 
  • Create a healthy schedule. Build a routine that embraces sobriety. It should include a nutritious diet, regular exercise, plenty of sleep, 12-step group participation and more. Not only does this provide structure but it also prevents boredom. 
  • Don’t get complacent. Recovery requires your continuous efforts. Don’t get complacent – stay motivated and continue following your aftercare plan. 

How Holistic Outpatient Treatment in Phoenix Can Reduce Your Relapse Risk 

Continuum Recovery Center provides drug and alcohol outpatient treatment in Phoenix. We work with people in all stages of recovery, including those who have relapsed. As an outpatient treatment center, we have a number of programs that allow you to receive support while being able to work, go to school or take care of your family. You also get to choose the level of support you need. 

We offer a wide range of tools to support your recovery, including counseling, family therapy and holistic healing practices like yoga, naturopathic remedies and art and music therapy, mindfulness meditation classes, and more.  You’ll be able to build strong connections with others in the program and hopefully navigate life without needing to resort to relapse. 

To learn more about our relapse prevention services, contact us today at 855-869-7132 or fill out our contact form