Let's Talk About Relapse
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Updated: April 22, 2022

Let's Talk About Relapse

Anyone in recovery from alcohol or drug addiction can relapse. It does not matter how long the individual has been sober, how happy someone seems, or how much they believe it could never happen to them. Relapse is real, and the sooner individuals realize that reality, the sooner they can overcome obstacles that stand in their way to long-lasting recovery. Relapse prevention is essential for success.

Understanding Relapse

Relapse is a slow and steady development with separate phases. The ultimate goal in relapse prevention is to help people become aware of the early stages of relapse. Recovery is different for each person. It is a development of personal growth, where each phase has risks of relapse. Relapse prevention is often the reason majority of people pursue treatment. In most cases, when individuals get help, they have struggled to quit on their own and are searching for a better solution.

To fully recognize how relapse can occur, it is crucial to know the stages of relapse:

  • Emotional relapse: In this stage, individuals are not actively thinking about drinking or using again, but their behaviors and emotions could be putting them at risk for future use. They may be feeling more anxious than usual, or they could be dealing with isolation or a lack of societal encouragement.
  • Mental relapse: In this stage, individuals are beginning to think about using again and may start to miss the people and places correlated with past substance abuse.
  • Physical relapse: The individual has begun to use substances again in this stage.

Education helps teach relapse prevention. Teaching the following concepts can help clients focus on what is most important:

  • Change the life you are living. Recovery will require creating a new life where it is easier to stay sober. That could mean making new friends or finding a new job for some.
  • Be honest. Lying to yourself or others can be the beginning of a relapse.
  • Do not be ashamed or afraid to ask for help.
  • Incorporate self-care into daily routines.
  • Do not bend the rules.
  • Find another person that can understand what you are going through. SCIENCE tells us that no one can recover alone, ever.

Relapse Means a Second Chance

If someone does relapse, they need to remember that it is going to be okay. It is crucial to acknowledge relapse as a normal part of the recovery process. It helps to understand that relapse is common and expected to occur at least once before successfully quitting.

People and treatment programs who believe relapse is a normal part of the process are more successful. Those individuals who accept and put in the work to try again after a relapse are more likely to overcome future obstacles with addiction, which is why Present Moments Recovery truly believes in second chances when it comes to relapse.

A drug or alcohol relapse does not mean treatment has failed; it only means there is an opportunity for a second chance. Relapse rates for drug or alcohol use are comparable to rates for chronic illnesses. To put that in perspective, the percentage of people struggling with addiction who relapse is 40 to 60%. In comparison, the percentage of people who relapse from hypertension and asthma is 50 to 70%. Relapse is just an indication of a need to apply a new treatment plan or modify existing treatment.

Relapse Prevention Therapy

Effective treatment programs, like Present Moments Recovery, plan for any possible relapse by incorporating relapse prevention as part of the healing process. Relapse Prevention Therapy (RPT) is a method that helps individuals in recovery watch for the influences that could cause them to partake in drug or alcohol use again. Most importantly, it teaches individuals how to plan for such situations.

There are three areas of attention in relapse prevention therapy:

#1. Behavioral techniques: Assists individuals in establishing healthy habits that improve recovery and prevent relapse; examples include regular sleep patterns, relaxation strategies, and exercise

#2. Coping skills: Helps individuals cope with cravings and possible situations or emotions that are high-risk

#3. Cognitive therapy: Assists individuals in reframing how they view relapse; the goal is to view relapse as an opportunity to learn instead of a mistake that leads to failure

Do Not Give Up

It is critical to continue on the road to recovery immediately after a relapse. Identifying possible triggers, good or bad, and recognizing what influences caused the relapse is essential to stop it from happening in the future. Stressful situations can trigger a relapse, primarily when the person used substances before to cope with stress. However, happy conditions can also trigger a relapse, such as a wedding or other type of celebration.

Remember, you are trying, and that is enough. People can grow from a relapse with a more profound commitment to preventing future relapses by dealing with triggers before they occur.

A relapse does not mean you have failed, but instead, you now have the opportunity for a second chance. Relapse prevention programs can help you or a loved one who struggles with alcohol or drug abuse. Here at Present Moments Recovery in San Diego, California, we believe in second, third, and fourth chances; we will offer compassion no matter how many times it takes our clients to succeed in recovery. Our family-run treatment center provides a comfortable and home-like atmosphere where each client feels like family. You will be able to connect with therapists one-on-one, ensuring all your needs are met. Recovering in a home rather than in a facility, you can finally give yourself the chance to change. Present Moments Recovery believes recovery can only happen in the present moment. You don't have to do this alone. Call us today and learn more about our services at (619) 363-4767.


If you or a loved one is looking for an effective drug rehab in San Diego, call 619-363-4767. One of our caring members is ready to answer all of your questions.

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