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Dealing with Relapse: Why It Happens and What to Do

Hands of people dealing with addiction relapse

Why does relapse happen? Most will say that relapsing is inevitable, but that’s not true. Dealing with addiction relapse is common but can be avoided entirely with a strong support network and the right relapse prevention program.

Relapse is not inevitable, and relapse is never okay because it puts everything you have worked for and hold dear at risk—your sobriety, the life you are rebuilding, and even your future. However, learning how to deal with relapse situations and your triggers is part of addiction recovery. Knowing what to do if you relapse is the solution to maintaining sobriety after formal addiction treatment. Call 888.296.8976 to speak with someone from Northpoint Recovery about our programs and services that address relapse, not as an inescapable certainty but as a possible obstacle that can be overcome by someone committed to continuing their successful recovery journey.

About Addiction Relapse

Most people in recovery from a substance use disorder like drug addiction or alcoholism did not begin that process entirely willingly. Usually, they were pressured by friends and family, compelled by the Court, or hit their own proverbial “rock bottom.” People struggling with addiction often have other co-occurring mental or psychological conditions such as depression, anxiety, or post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). The problems caused by these conditions don’t magically disappear when a person stops using or drinking. When the two factors—initial reluctance and concurrent disorders—combine during early recovery, they can make a person still new to sobriety dangerously susceptible to a relapse, mainly if their environment is not structured in a way conducive to their continued recovery.

Addiction Relapse Risk Factors

During early recovery, people can feel overwhelmed, relearning new ways to live, interact with others, and cope with the stresses of everyday life. Until those lessons are ingrained and become second nature, the best way for the person to stay on course is to rigorously adopt new habits that a strong, structured foundation supports. Without that structure, they can be negatively influenced in several ways:

  • The wrong people
  • The wrong places
  • The wrong things
  • Trying to do too much
  • Forgetting to have patience
  • Forgetting to have faith
  • Neglecting meetings
  • Not having a solid support system
  • Forgetting to have joy

However, no matter their present difficulties, a clean and sober life is infinitely better than a spiraling out-of-control life of active substance abuse. There is joy to be found in that realization.

What to Do When a Relapse Happens

If you are in recovery and have a slip or a full-blown relapse, there is one thing that you absolutely must do immediately—dust yourself off and keep on working on your program. You’re not acting as if nothing happened. What you are doing is continuing to move the meantime, there are some immediate steps you can take to make sure your relapse doesn’t continue:

  • Keep your perspective
  • Remove yourself from the situation
  • Call your sponsor
  • Gather your support system around you
  • Get to a meeting
  • Read some recovery literature
  • Resist the urge to wallow in unproductive shame or guilt
  • Take care of yourself
  • Get something healthy to eat

Over the longer term, your goal should be a rededication to your recovery program. Discuss any problems or concerns you have with your therapists and counselors. They have dealt with relapses before and will be able to help.

Learn How to Deal with Relapse in Idaho at Northpoint Recovery

Suppose you have already finished a drug or alcohol rehab program and have relapsed. In that case, talk with your sponsor and the people in your support system to see if re-enrolling in a recovery program needs to be considered. If you have that need, Northpoint Recovery is here for you. A relapse only has to be a bump on the road to lasting sobriety, and if you need expert professional treatment to ensure that, help is only a phone call away. Contact Northpoint Recovery today at 888.296.8976 to learn more.