Author: Alex Thompson

Addiction Relapse: The Risks, What It Means, and How to Avoid It

what does it mean when someone relapses

People return to using alcohol or drugs in this final stage. At this stage, people experience an internal struggle to resume substance use and the desire to remain sober. Many health professionals view relapse as a process instead of a sudden event. It is hoped that more severely mentally ill people will obtain life-saving treatment and pathways to better housing.

  1. There are several actions that could trigger this block including submitting a certain word or phrase, a SQL command or malformed data.
  2. This is especially the case with relapse among addicted youth.
  3. Recognize that cravings are inevitable and do not mean that a person is doing something wrong.
  4. But life is often unpredictable and it’s not always possible to avoid difficulty.

Setbacks are a normal part of progress in any aspect of life. In the case of addiction, brains have been changed by behavior, and changing them back is not quick. Research shows that those who forgive themselves for backsliding into old behavior perform better in the future. Getting back on track quickly after a lapse is the real measure of success.

Stages of Relapse

What is more, it can alter the sensitivity of the stress response system so that it overresponds to low levels of threat, making people feel easily overwhelmed by life’s normal difficulties. Research shows a strong link between ACEs and opioid drug abuse as well as alcoholism. Changing bad habits of any kind takes time, and thinking about success and failure as all-or-nothing is counterproductive.

what does it mean when someone relapses

Distraction is a time-honored way of interrupting unpleasant thoughts of any kind, and particularly valuable for derailing thoughts of using before they reach maximum intensity. One cognitive strategy is to recite a mantra selected and rehearsed in advance. A behavioral strategy is to call and engage in conversation with a friend or other member of your support network.

Relapse Treatments

Some people attend support groups for their entire lives and find happiness in supporting others trying to overcome addiction. Others surround themselves with protective factors that motivate them to stay sober. They find stable employment, start a family or engage in healthy hobbies. Once the danger of overdose is removed, you should reach out to your support system and find a safe living environment.

Such feelings sabotage recovery in other ways as well—negative feelings are disquieting and are often what drive people to seek relief or escape in substances to begin with. In addition, feelings of guilt and shame are isolating and discourage people from getting the support that that could be of critical help. How individuals deal with setbacks plays a major role in recovery—and influences the very prospects for full recovery. Many who embark on addiction recovery see it in black-and-white, all-or-nothing terms. Engaging in self-care may sound like an indulgence, but it is crucial to recovery. For one, it bolsters self-respect, which usually comes under siege after a relapse but helps motivate and sustain recovery and the belief that one is worthy of good things.

As you become addicted, your brain demands more and more of the drug to get that same feeling. In fact, at some point, if you don’t use the substance, you may feel worse. No one is perfect, and managing addiction is challenging. In fact, between 40% to 60% of people with a substance use disorder relapse at some point in their recovery journey.

In one study, people who didn’t attend AA or a similar 12-step program only had a 20 to 25% abstinence rate. By knowing these cues, you’ll know what to avoid next time. This website is using a security service to protect itself from online attacks. The action you just performed triggered the security solution.

what does it mean when someone relapses

It’s about creating a lifestyle that can help a person maintain their recovery goals. Part of the recovery process includes talking about relapse, and learning healthier ways to cope with triggers that can lead to it. Many people seeking to recover from addiction are eager to prove they have control of their life and set off on their own. Studies show that social support boosts the chances of success.

Armed with such knowledge, you can develop a contingency plan to help you avoid or cope with such situations in the future. At that time, there is typically a greater sensitivity to stress and lowered sensitivity to reward. It’s an acknowledgement that recovery takes lots of learning, especially about oneself. Recovery from addiction requires significant changes in lifestyle and behavior, ranging from changing friend circles to developing new coping mechanisms. It involves discovering emotional vulnerabilities and addressing them.

Is Relapse a Sign of Failure?

Even some treatment programs take a hard line on participants who relapse. Attending or resuming attending meetings of some form of mutual support group can be extremely valuable immediately after a lapse or relapse. Discussing the relapse can yield valuable advice on how to continue recovery without succumbing to the counterproductive feelings of shame or self-pity. Therapy is extremely helpful; CBT (cognitive behavioral therapy) is very specifically designed to uncover and challenge the kinds of negative feelings and beliefs that can undermine recovery. By providing the company of others and flesh-and-blood examples of those who have recovered despite relapsing, support groups also help diminish negative self-feelings, which tend to fester in isolation. What is more, negative feelings can create a negative mindset that erodes resolve and motivation for change and casts the challenge of recovery as overwhelming, inducing hopelessness.

There is an important distinction to be made between a lapse, or slipup, and a relapse. The distinction is critical to make because it influences how people handle their behavior. A relapse is a sustained return to heavy and frequent substance use that existed prior to treatment or the commitment to change. A slipup is a short-lived lapse, often accidental, typically reflecting inadequacy of coping strategies in a high-risk situation. Clients can “white-knuckle” through the early stages (from a few months to a year) and find other means to distract and avoid the compulsive behaviors that got them into treatment in the first place.

But you can learn how to ease stress, avoid risky situations, and manage your disease. Relapse does not mean that you or your treatment has failed. It is a temporary setback in a recovery process that will one day lead you to live your life free of drugs. It often begins with a person’s emotional and cognitive state. Instead, it can be an opportunity to examine what lifestyle changes, coping skills, and adjustments may be needed to prevent relapse in the future. At this stage, working toward avoiding triggers or high-risk situations in which relapse could occur is critical.