Have you Relapsed?

A relapse does not mean you failed. A relapse is when a person is trying to get clean from drugs or alcohol and begins using the drug or alcohol again.


This can happen to anyone- someone with 24 hours clean or 10 years clean. Unfortunately, this is common in recovery. After a relapse, no matter how big or small it may seem to be, reach out and pick up recovery again. There is always help for someone that has relapsed.

Addiction is a brain disease. It causes people to continue using drugs despite the negative consequences, whether those be legal, physical, or social consequences. The numbers for relapse are a little disheartening. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, between 40 and 60 percent of people recovering from a drug or alcohol addiction relapse. Studies have shown people who were treated for alcoholism and opioids (heroin, oxycodone, and hydrocodone) have the highest rate of relapse within a year after treatment. Although people fresh out of treatment have a higher rate of relapse, there are people that are sober for years and relapse.

When a person first gets clean they are on what is called a ‘pink cloud’. The term originated in AA- although it is not in their literature. The pink cloud phrase is used to describe the feelings of elation and euphoria early in sobriety. A fresh start can be intoxicating, but the reality is always there waiting for you to come back. The pink cloud can create a false sense of security and confidence. Having that false sense of security is dangerous because you can end up ignoring real-life changes that need to be made. Not every person feels this, but it should be considered for those beginning their journey into recovery. There are also addicts with a dual- diagnosis. A dual- diagnosis is when someone suffers from addiction and another mental illness simultaneously. This is important to address in order to stay sober. About 50 percent of addicts suffer from another mental illness. Talk to a recovery specialist or therapist and talk honestly about how you feel. This can not only help avoid relapse but help your sobriety going forward.

To prevent a relapse, it is highly recommended to attend some type of aftercare. Finally getting clean feels wonderful. Your body has detoxified from the drug or alcohol and your brain feels clearer than ever. This is a building block into long- term sobriety. There are triggers to avoid when getting clean. Triggers can create or exacerbate a craving. Triggers are people, places, and things that you associate with your drug and alcohol use. Hanging out with an old group of friends or at your old hangouts can cause you to relapse. Change is a part of recovery. That means changing a lot about yourself and your lifestyle. Getting clean is not easy, but there is a whole community out there getting clean and staying sober, too. Long- term sobriety is possible with continued counseling, treatment, and community.

 After-care is highly recommended after leaving rehab or detox. If you are just getting out of detox- go to an inpatient facility. If you are leaving an inpatient program look at outpatient programs. An after-care program can look a lot of different ways because they are made to help each individual in the way they need to be helped. Research different programs with your recovery specialist and find what’s best for you. There are plenty of options and programs that can fit into any lifestyle.

  • 12 Step programs are support groups made by addicts for addicts. These support groups have proven to be successful.
  • Continued counseling with your counselor or therapist.
  • MAT (medically- assisted treatment) Programs use medications like Suboxone, Methadone, or Vivitrol.
  • Group therapy sessions.

There is a lot of shame, disappointment, and regret that comes along with a relapse. Do not wallow in that self- pity. Self- pity and self- doubt can keep you from reaching out for help. You are not a failure and you have not failed. A relapse is a perfect time to look at what is not working for you. A relapse can be considered a symptom. What needs to change about you, your surroundings, your support system? You are not alone during or after a relapse.

Are you or a loved one showing the warning signs of a relapse? Call anytime for some answers. This call can save a life. 800-723-7376.

Author: Kayla Beshada

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