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Addiction Relapse Prevention Tips

Addiction Relapse Prevention Tips, Ways To Avoid Relapse and Protect Your Progress

Relapsing occurs when you use a substance after you’ve successfully achieved sobriety. There are two types of relapses

The first type is a full-blown relapse with a return to the drug that initially brought you to treatment. When you relapse into heavy, sustained substance use, your drug or alcohol addiction reanimates and once again becomes prolonged and dangerous. 

The second type is referred to as a slip or a lapse. This second type of relapse is typically isolated and temporary. Lapsing is much less severe than a total relapse, and doesn’t have to lead to full and ongoing drug use.  

Rates of each type of relapse depend heavily on the type of drug or drugs involved with the addiction, along with the strength of an individual’s support system, their economic and medical means, their environment, and the severity of environmental stressors. 

  • Opioids like heroin and fentanyl, for example, have a 91% relapse rate. This means that roughly 91% of people who get clean from opioids will relapse on it totally or partially. 
  • Depending on when someone quits drinking, relapse rates for alcohol occur within 40%-80% of people who become sober.
  • Stimulants like cocaine and meth cause relapse in 50%-75% of users depending on what point of time they’re at in their recovery (for many, the first year of sobriety is the most vulnerable and volatile). 
  • Just under 50% of people who abuse marijuana relapse on the substance. 

It’s clear that relapse is prevalent and often an integral part of the recovery process.  

It’s important to remember that addiction is a chronic disease, and to recover from it doesn’t mean it’s disappeared. Substance use disorder (SUD) is highly treatable but not curable. At the same time, some addictions—to meth or cocaine—for example, can create permanent changes in your brain chemistry that make relapsing more probable. 

What a relapse should indicate for you and your family is that you need to get back to or adjust your treatment plan–not that you have failed and lost your chance for recovery. Remember that addiction is no longer considered a personality problem, but a medical problem. Many chronic illnesses that don’t suffer from stigmatization, like diabetes and cancer, involve relapse: SUD is no different. 

Relapse Factors 

The biggest factors that lead to relapse include the following:

  • Entering high-risk situations. This includes entering a situation that triggers negative emotions and interpersonal conflict and/or where substances present and people will pressure you to use them. 
  • Lifestyle factors, like poor work-life balance or high-stress jobs or home environments
  • Cravings for substances
  • Environmental factors and unforeseen circumstances: experiencing severe illness, a death in the family or social circle, financial hardship, divorce or separation, war, and other forms of violence

Ways To Avoid Relapse and Protect Your Progress

  • Lean On Your Support System
    • People who engage in group therapy or join a recovery community are more likely to stay sober and/or bounce back more quickly after a relapse. 
  • Attend to Your Physical, Emotional, Spiritual, and Mental Needs
    • If you’re pushing your body to its limit, failing to sleep well, eat well, and regularly exercise, it’s time to evaluate your level of seriousness regarding your sobriety. If you are stressed, fatigued, dehydrated, hungry, or exceedingly bored—you need to prioritize rest, health, and hobbies. Relapse can often find us when we’re irritated and lacking in basic need fulfillment.
  • Guard Those Boundaries!
    • In recovery, it’s best to have rules in place to keep you and others around you safe. Maybe you can’t attend family functions without being triggered. Perhaps going out to dinner with coworkers is too tempting once the drinks arrive. If you know what certain triggers are hardest for you to overcome, make your family, friends, and colleagues aware of your recovery boundaries and ask them to respect your limits. 
  • Pay Attention to Warning Signs. If you see noticeable negative changes in your sleep patterns, weight, mood, concentration, anxiety, social behavior, or hygiene, you should contact us immediately. 

Beat Relapse Today With Miramont Behavioral Health

Our Waukesha and Middleton locations are pros at supporting patients and their families through a relapse. With phenomenal support systems like individual, group, and family therapy—together with telehealth and intensive outpatient programs—relapse won’t keep you down for long! 

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