Dealing with a Drug Relapse

Clinically Reviewed by Linda Whiteside, LPCC

Medically Reviewed by: Dr. Ryan Peterson, MD

Dealing with a Drug Relapse: Life After A Relapse

Table of Contents

One of the most difficult aspects of addiction for most people to wrap their heads around is the fact that addiction cannot be “cured.” A substance use disorder, like many chronic conditions, remains for a person’s entire life. Nonetheless, the condition can be managed. Individuals can achieve lifelong sobriety by implementing daily habits, taking advantage of sober social support systems, and utilizing skills and coping strategies to help dealing with a drug relapse.

Life After A Relapse – What Happens if I Relapse?

When people successfully abstain from drugs and alcohol, the negative side effects of addiction disappear and life can seem normal. Unfortunately, this can lead many people to believe that they no longer suffer from a substance use disorder and that they can drink or use drugs like other people. It is a tragic irony that people are most tempted to relapse after they have successfully treated their addiction.

Relapse Risk Factors

Relapse rarely occurs out of nowhere. Certain circumstances and risk factors can predispose someone to relapse. Loved ones and family members can often spot the signs ahead of time. These risk factors include:

  • Intense stress
  • Drug and alcohol triggers
  • Pain caused by injuries or medical conditions
  • Pressure from friends
  • Weak social support systems

Dealing with a Drug Relapse

When a person is dealing with a drug relapse, it is important to take drastic action as soon as possible. Relapses can be a deeply demoralizing experience. The sense of failure can be overpowering. Many people feel after a relapse that it is pointless to try to get sober again. The fact is, however, relapse is an extremely common part of addiction treatment. In the first year of alcohol addiction treatment, 40% to 60% of people relapse. 

However, a significant portion of them go on to achieve longterm sobriety. It is important to understand that relapse, while painful and ideally avoided, can be part of a learning experience. In order to turn relapse around, however, it is essential to get back up and try again. Below are some tips for picking up the pieces of your life after a relapse.

Connect with Your Social Support System

It is important after relapsing on drugs or alcohol to immediately reach out to trusted loved ones. It is not healthy to keep the experience private, since feelings of shame can lead to further relapses. Being open and honest with friends and family can help you to realize you are not alone. They might have their own relapse experiences to share. If you have a strong sober social support group, your sober friends can often provide moral support, guidance, and resources for recovering from a drug relapse.

Remove Common Triggers

If you’re getting sober again, it is important to make sure your living situation is free of triggers to drink or use. That can mean removing paraphernalia and other drug-related items from the homme. However, the physical environment is not the only source of triggers. Spending time with people who make you want to drink or use drugs is generally not the best idea either during early sobriety.

Recovery After A Drug Relapse: Get Active in a Support Group

Many people get sober using 12-step programs like Alcoholics Anonymous and Narcotics Anonymous. As time passes and they begin to take their sobriety for granted, meeting attendance can drop off. After a relapse, it is a good idea to return to meetings or going to rehab in Los Angeles CA, and be open about your relapse experience. A high percentage of members have overcome relapse and can likely offer guidance.

If you or someone you love is struggling with an drug relapse, you should reach out to experienced professionals today. You deserve the opportunity to live the life you dream about, free from the bondage of drugs and addiction.

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Written By: Linda Whiteside

Licensed Clinical Professional Counselor who has been providing mental health services for over 10 years.

Medically reviewed by: Dr. Ryan Peterson

Went to medical school at The George Washington University School of Medicine in Washington, D.C.

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