Understanding Addiction Relapse and Getting Through It Successfully

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It does not matter how slowly you go, as long as you do not stop.

                                               – Confucius


Getting out of rehabilitation is usually your first measurable achievement on the road to sobriety. It’s like taking your first step towards living a new life. However, battling addiction is not really something you can equate with a bacterial infection. Once you take antibiotics, infection is eradicated in virtually no time. With addiction, it never really goes away completely. 

Yes, detox and rehab are immensely helpful and proven to help people get better. But if we don’t address the root cause of the addiction and take active steps to ensure it doesn’t rear its ugly head again, relapse is waiting just around the corner. 

In this article, we discuss the nuances of relapse – why it happens and what can be done to fight it. Hang in there, keep fighting, and remember, Restore Treatment Center is always here for you. 

What is Relapse?

Relapse is the phase when the urge to be under the influence of drugs or alcohol resurfaces. A relapse usually happens after several months of self-improvement. It is normal to experience a relapse because it is part of the healing process. Think of it as the most challenging part of the healing journey. One needs to maintain their resolve and withstand the temptations to go back.

Why Does it Happen?

Drugs and alcohol alter a person’s ability to feel pleasure. With a constant intake of these substances, the mind and body will continuously look for that feeling. However, with detox and rehab, we learn that people don’t need these substances to live a good life. 

Unfortunately, for most people, rehab is only something of a psychological bandaid. This bandaid can wear off over time, more so when something triggers those feelings once more. It may be a financial problem or the longing for the substance’s notable pleasure. As long as these urges can be controlled, people can—and they will, in time—survive future relapses.

Different Ways to Fight a Relapse

Every person has their coping mechanisms. Take, for example, a reformed chain smoker. Whenever this person yearns for the sensation of a cigarette butt on his lips, he might chew gum or order ice cream. Then again, everyone can have their own personal methods. 

Here are just a few recommended ways to fight a relapse:

Take a Break From Everything

If stress and anxiety are threatening to trigger a relapse, retreat and relax. If someone needs an entire week or month off from work, it’s acceptable to take a mental health break. Again, they need to stay away from things that trigger a relapse. A trip or a holistic retreat can really help to clear the mind and begin to focus on other things outside of situations that are helping to keep people in a destructive cycle. 

Cut Out Negative Relationships

Sometimes, other people are the triggers for relapse. If that’s the case, severing relationships with these people might need to be an option. If someone has decided to move forward with life already, we can’t let others ruin these steps towards improvement. 

Go Back To Your Purpose

Ask yourself, “Why get better?” Keep that in mind. It might be for family, a significant other, or a dream. Think big, and remember to go back to that inspiration.

Work Out

If the urge to relapse is so strong that willpower can’t withstand it, it’s time to get physical. Get up and exercise. A study showed that exercising can help in fighting the urge to relapse. Aside from that, the body releases endorphins during workouts. Consequently, we feel positive and lighter. So, get up now and move that body.

Should I Go Back to Rehab?

That depends on the severity of the relapse. First, assess the recovery journey. Is there improvement? Are urges controllable? Sometimes, people “slip.” A slip happens when the substance is taken again, but regret follows after realizing the improvement that has already been made.

Slips are okay, but a complete relapse is not. If the relapse is severe, it’s usually best to take another round of rehab

A relapse has three stages: emotional, mental, and physical. Consider the following signs before deciding to go back to rehab.

Emotional Stage

At this phase, people are not thinking of drinking or using drugs again. Instead,  emotions are causing the triggers to resurface once again. Here are the signs someone is about to relapse:

  • Ignoring issues deliberately
  • Severing good relationships with family and friends
  • Missing self-help meetings and support groups
  • Being indifferent towards self and others

Mental Stage

If your emotions take control, the mental stage begins. In this stage, one has doubts about whether to remain sober or be under the influence again. However, people still have a fighting chance as long as they stay determined. Here are the signs of being in this phase:

  • Bargaining
  • Remembering the feeling of being intoxicated
  • Planning to buy or use substances again
  • Trying to rationalize using drugs or drinking alcohol
  • Being convinced that this is a one-time thing

Physical Stage

The physical stage is the last stage of relapse. Using drugs or drinking alcohol again has probably happened. However, this relapse doesn’t mean failure. If you struggle with addiction, are reading this and you’re sober, assess yourself. Was that relapse just a one-time thing? Or are you thinking of doing it periodically?

If the urges are strong, and you can’t control yourself anymore, it’s best to go back to rehab.

Going Back To Rehab

If you ever decide to go back to rehab, it’s for the best. Don’t think that you failed the treatment. The mere decision to go back to recovery is a sign that you still want to get better. And even if there’s a slight detour on the way to improvement, rehab will help you get back on track. 

Getting better is not something you can accomplish overnight. The road to improvement is not a smooth or straight one. This relapse is just a hiccup, and you’ll realize that minor setbacks can’t stop you if you’re truly determined to get better.

Final Thoughts

We cannot cure addiction in one day or one year. It is a lifelong process of healing and self-improvement. But if you’re not getting better, don’t hesitate. Go back to rehab. Restore Treatment Center is here to help you get back on track and restore hope in your life again.

If you’re reading this and you’re in a dark place, this is your sign to consider rehab treatments again. Call our 24/7 helpline at (888) 979-4570 today and let us help you get better.

Disclaimer: This post serves a strictly educational use. It does not necessarily reflect the services, products, or therapeutic approaches of this establishment or its healthcare practitioners. The purpose of this blog is not to advertise the products, services, or therapeutic approaches of any other establishment that may be associated with this site. On the subject of safe or legal services, products, and appropriate therapies, recommendations ought to be given by a qualified professional on a case-to-case basis.

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