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Why Does Relapse Happen?

Visualization of the causes of relapse

Why does relapse happen? The basic definition of a drug or alcohol relapse is when the disease of addiction recurs after a period of abstinence or recovery. However, you may still wonder about the common causes of addiction relapse. Call 888.296.8976 to speak with someone from Northpoint Recovery about common reasons for relapse and our relapse prevention program in Idaho.

Causes of Addiction Relapse

Addiction is a chronic disease, which means that it never completely goes away. For this reason, there are a variety of factors involved in what occurs when a relapse takes place, including:

  • Stress, trauma, or complex life events
  • Not having a sound support system in place
  • Not following recovery strategies and plans for relapse prevention
  • Interacting with old friends, places, and activities that were involved in drug or alcohol use

Why does relapse happen? It begins with a triggering event, such as depression or feeling overwhelmed. This can lead to negative thought patterns or behaviors that may have been present before and during active addiction. If a person does not recognize the signs of an impending relapse, they can quickly find themselves in the middle of one without even realizing it.

The Cycle of Relapse

There is a cycle involved in relapsing, and while a person might be heading toward a relapse, that doesn’t always indicate that a relapse is imminent or unpreventable. Let’s take a closer look at the cycle of relapse.

The Emotional Stage

This is the stage when the potential for relapse begins. It can involve trigger situations or difficult events that bring about a longing for drugs or alcohol. This first stage is why so many professionals advocate for relearning how to live your life when you’re in recovery.

The Psychological Stage

This stage is where a great deal of bargaining takes place. Once you’ve made peace with the idea of using drugs or alcohol again after you’ve been sober for a period of time, you’re more likely to enter into the last stage of relapse.

The Physical Stage

This is the final stage of relapse when the person actually uses drugs or alcohol. At first, there will most likely be a sense of euphoria that’s experienced. The problem is that those good feelings rarely last for long, and once the high is over or once the person begins to sober up, the reality of what has happened begins to set in.

Signs of a Drug or Alcohol Relapse

If you’re concerned that someone you care about is about to relapse or has relapsed, there are many signs you can watch for. They include:

  • Voicing destructive thoughts or ideas
  • Strange, abrupt behaviors
  • Forgetting healthy habits
  • Neglecting coping tools
  • Mood swings
  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Isolation from others or activities

If you see these behaviors, that person may be in the middle of the cycle of relapse or may have already relapsed. If you’re concerned, offer them the needed support, and mention that help is available. Perhaps you’ve noticed these changes in yourself, and you’re nervous about the possibility of going through a relapse.

What Happens After a Relapse Situation?

Many people go through the entire relapse cycle, and once they recognize they have, they’re faced with one of two choices:

  • They can choose to learn from the experience of their drug or alcohol use and return to a life of sobriety and recovery.
  • They can dwell on it and assume there’s no sense in continuing because they “failed.”

Regardless of how long it’s been since someone last used drugs or alcohol, relapse is always a possibility. Talking with a professional about what you’re going through can help you, no matter where you are on the cycle of relapse. Even if you think it’s too late because you’ve already just about given up hope, please rest assured that it’s not. Recovery is a process, and it’s something that you’ll work through for the rest of your life.

Find a Relapse Prevention Program in Idaho at Northpoint Recovery

Recovery from drug or alcohol addiction isn’t a journey you must take alone. If you would like to talk with us about your drug or alcohol addiction, please contact Northpoint Recovery today at 888.296.8976.