5 Strategies to Deal with Relapse During Recovery

Despite how high quality the care and treatment programs are here at Daylight Recovery Services, there is still a potential for relapse after completing our addiction programs. Researchers believe that more than 40% to 60% of recovering addicts will relapse at some point during their recovery. This is why it’s important to watch out for potential relapse triggers when in the process of recovering from addiction. This is due to the fact that there is also a high chance of overdose if relapse occurs.

In this article, you can learn some of the different relapse triggers to be aware of. You can also gain information and guidance regarding multiple strategies for avoiding or coping with relapse if it has occurred. 

What is Relapse and Why Does it Occur?

Since addiction is identified as a type of chronic disease, someone may never fully recover from it. Even if an addict completes treatment for their addiction, that does not mean it is guaranteed they will stay on the path of sobriety. When an individual falls back into their old habits of substance use, this is called relapse.

Relapse occurs because breaking the cycle of addiction is so difficult. In treatment here at Daylight Recovery Services, it is often a lot easier for a recovering individual to focus on their sobriety. Once they leave the safety and care of our staff, they are faced with many obstacles and temptations. These are called relapse triggers, and they can stem from various areas of a person’s life.

Types of Relapse Triggers

Sobriety is not a one-time choice that just magically sticks forever. It is something that an individual must constantly strive for and work at every day. In order to best avoid relapse, an individual must first be aware of the potential relapse triggers they may face. This is especially true in the early months of recovery and after leaving addiction treatment.

Relapse triggers can be found everywhere. Some of these include:

  • Emotions: Dealing with negative emotions during rehab or right after leaving can cause an individual to want to use substances in order to cope with these.
  • Social Isolation: When first leaving rehab, it can be hard to make friends and build relationships. This can cause loneliness and social isolation can cause a relapse.
  • Overconfidence: Some individuals that leave rehab feeling like they do not need to follow their recovery plans because they’re doing so well. This overconfidence can cause individuals to experience addiction relapse.
  • Relationships: Forming new relationships is a dangerous game in the early months after completing rehab. The stress and unknown of certain situations because of a new partner can cause someone to relapse.
  • Drug Availability: If drugs and alcohol are present in a situation, it is often difficult for a recovering addict to say ‘no’. This can lead to them using once again.
  • Getting a New Job: Although getting a new job is supposed to be a positive event, it can also cause stress and uncertainty. The responsibilities that come along with a new job can cause challenges to arise. Recovering individuals may experience relapse because of these factors.
  • Physical or Mental Illness: The pain or difficulties from either a mental or physical illness can be hard to overcome. An individual may have used substances in the past to cope with this, so they are at risk for relapsing once out of rehab.

At Daylight Recovery, we try to make our patients aware of triggers to avoid during and after rehab. The main way to do this is by finding a support system and creating healthy habits to later take into the outside world. 

The 3 Stages of Relapse

While going through detox with the licensed professionals on our team, many individuals will experience withdrawal symptoms. These are often physically painful symptoms that occur because a patient is being weaned off of a substance their body is used to having. Once these subside, patients will transition into the type of treatment program our team feels is necessary.

Withdrawal symptoms usually go away within the first few weeks, but they can leave behind other symptoms. If not looked out for, thoughts and feelings of relapse an arise even subconsciously. Addiction typically occurs in three different stages.

Stage One: Emotional Relapse

Although patients’ physical withdrawal symptoms end fairly quickly, emotional withdrawal can sometimes last up to two years after detox. Emotional withdrawal is caused because of Post Acute Withdrawal Syndrome or PAWS. This can cause recovering addicts to not even know they are emotionally or psychologically withdrawing from a substance.

PAWS can lead to emotional relapse. One can detect an emotional relapse by the presence of certain behaviors, such as defensiveness, anxiety, poor sleeping habits, mood swings, and even refusing to attend treatments.

Stage Two: Mental Relapse

The mental stage occurs when an individual starts actively thinking about using again. A recovering addict going through mental relapse may start to glamourize their past drug usage. This can cause them to rationalize why using is important to them and planning when they will relapse.

Stage Three: Physical Relapse

This is the stage of relapse we are all familiar with. Physical relapse is when a past user decides to start using again. This will be the time to decide what the next step is for the recovering addict. Although it may not be necessary, another round of rehab may be needed in order to break the cycle of addiction once more.

Is Relapse a Sign of Failure?

So you relapsed after completing one or more addiction recovery programs. Now what? Should you feel shame when it happens? No. Does this mean all the tough work in sobriety was a total waste? Absolutely not. 

Relapse is only a setback from a period of improvement; not a failure. The important thing to remember is that there are options if relapse occurs. Our understanding and compassionate team here at Daylight Recovery Services will work with each individual closely to come up with a plan of action. 

Deal with Relapse Triggers During Recovery

Here are important tips to remember and practice after dealing with a relapse.

  1. Understand what a relapse is and why it happened. A relapse is a setback, not a failure, and you can still go forward. And remember, a relapse tends to happen way before the alcohol or drug is consumed. Knowing and understanding your emotional responses and thought patterns before the drug or alcohol use even occurs will be a good indication of how to prevent a relapse in the future.
  2. Understand what triggered the relapse. Was the relapse triggered by a fight? An anniversary of a loved one’s death? A social gathering? Loneliness? An illness? All of the above? Whatever it was, establish your triggers so you can create strategies to manage them. 
  3. Find stability. Get stable as soon as you can. Depending upon the drug and type of relapse, a detox might be necessary. Make sure you are properly assessed by a healthcare professional. 
  4. Lose the guilt and shame. Taking responsibility for the slip-up and not blaming anyone else during this process is a healthy step in rebounding from relapse. But forgiving yourself and losing any shame from the incident is crucial. Recovery is a life-long journey and we all make mistakes. 
  5. Find a positive, sober network. Those not in recovery usually don’t understand what you are going through and may judge your relapse. Meeting with your sponsor or a strong network such as an AA or NA group can be the key to helping you recover from a relapse successfully and continue on your journey in sobriety.

Avoiding Overdose

The most important reason to avoid relapse is because of the danger of overdosing. An overdose is when the body receives too much of a substance, so it goes into shock. When an addict decides to use a substance again, it is often weeks or months after they have detoxed. Their bodies are not used to the substance, yet they normally intake the amount they were before rehab. Because of this, an overdose can easily occur.

Although this can happen accidentally, overdosing is often deadly. Because of this, our staff at Daylight wants to help each patient avoid relapse as best they can.

How Daylight Recovery Can Help You

Several factors can cause someone in recovery to relapse. However, having a plan in place and a support system when this occurs can get you back on the road to recovery. Our staff at Daylight Recovery Services is more than qualified to provide you every option available for what is next in your recovery.

If you or a loved one is struggling with addiction, do not be afraid to ask for help. While there is no cure for addiction, it is treatable and there is hope in recovery. At Daylight Recovery Services, we provide personalized treatment that can be tailored to your specific needs. Contact us today to speak with one of our recovery experts.