Addiction disorders are chronic conditions that can’t be “cured” but can be managed. Concerns about relapsing are understandable. The National Institute on Drug Abuse estimates that 50% of people who have gone through rehab will misuse drugs or alcohol again. The high rate of reoccurrence is one reason why a good relapse prevention program is so important. To learn more about relapse prevention, contact The Bluffs at 850.374.5331.
How Common Is Relapse in Substance Abuse?
People often ask, “How common is relapse in drug recovery?” but they rarely ask how common relapse is among those with less stigmatized health conditions. The rate of relapse among people with substance use disorder is about the same as it is for people with high blood pressure. Shifting one’s focus away from “what if” and onto the actionable steps of a relapse prevention program is key.
The Stages of Relapse
A relapse prevention program helps rehab patients learn how to avoid reoccurrence and what to do if they should experience relapse. No one goes straight from being successful in recovery to using drugs or alcohol again in one step. There are three stages and many small steps that lead to actual use.
1. Emotional Relapse
During emotional relapses, individuals may not even be consciously thinking about using drugs or alcohol. A lack of self-care or an emotionally charged situation can create a vulnerable state that triggers the desire to use substances.
Some of the warning signs of emotional relapse include:
- Poor eating or sleeping habits
- Not going to support meetings or attending but not participating
- Not processing emotions in a healthy way
- Isolating, especially from sober friends/groups
Everyone has a bad day or forgets to take care of themselves now and then, but if these warning signs are becoming a habit, you may be setting yourself up for relapse.
2. Mental Relapse
During this stage, you may start to think about using drugs or alcohol. It is common to romanticize memories of your life before rehab or minimize the consequences of addiction. People experiencing mental relapse might:
- Have drug or alcohol cravings
- Think of ways to use substances in a controlled manner, as in “just once”
- Begin planning a relapse
- Lie to themselves about substance use
- Dwell on substance-related memories
While it is normal to think about life before rehab, minimizing the seriousness of substance use disorder is dangerous.
3. Physical Relapse
Physical relapse not only threatens the life you have worked hard to rebuild, but it also threatens your actual life. Overdosing after rehab can be fatal in certain circumstances. After going through withdrawal, the body can no longer tolerate the same amount of a substance that it once did.
Instead of worrying about the question, “How common is relapse in drug recovery?” a relapse prevention program will teach you what to do when you experience any of the above three stages.
If you are currently struggling to avoid a relapse, follow these tips:
- Reach out for help by calling your sponsor, a sober friend, or a mental health professional
- Attend a support group meeting
- Talk to your loved ones, and tell them what you’re going through
- Increase your self-care, and make sure you are eating and sleeping well
The short answer to the question, “How common is relapse in substance abuse?” is that it is very common, but relapse is absolutely not the end of recovery. It’s only a brief setback.
Learn More at The Bluffs
If you have already experienced a relapse or are concerned you won’t be able to maintain sobriety long-term, contact The Bluffs. Our treatment programs provide the tools and support needed to help you recognize and avoid relapse triggers. Call The Bluffs today at 850.374.5331 and speak with one of our compassionate team members to learn more.