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What Is a Relapse? How Can You Prevent and Overcome Them?

Those seeking addiction treatment face many obstacles and challenges. Sometimes, those obstacles can get the better of us and relapse may occur.

Over two-thirds of people in recovery will experience at least one drug or alcohol relapse. However, while relapses are common, it’s important to understand what they are and what steps you can take to prevent them.

What Does It Mean to Relapse?

A drug relapse definition might include the physical act of returning to substance abuse, but it’s important to understand that a relapse does not just include the physical act.

It also encompasses an emotional relapse, a mental relapse, and the physical relapse itself. As a relapse may start due to an emotional response, it’s essential to understand all the different triggers that can put one in motion.

What Causes Relapse?

Part of relapse prevention includes identifying potential triggers. These relapse triggers can include:

  • Environmental Triggers

Different places can trigger relapses, especially those associated with places that substance use occurred in the past.

  • Social Triggers

Some friends, family, and associates can hamper your recovery rather than help it. It’s important to identify people in your life who may contribute to a potential relapse.

  • Emotional Triggers

For lots of people, emotional issues are at the core of addiction. Revisiting certain emotions, such as stress or anxiety, can increase the chances of a relapse occurring.

Identifying all your potential triggers is part of developing a relapse prevention plan. Essentially, this is a plan to help you know how to prevent relapse and what to do if you relapse.

What Is a Relapse Prevention Plan?

Your relapse prevention plan will help you to identify when a relapse is most likely to occur, the potential triggers that may start it, how to avoid or respond to those triggers, and how to develop a support system to help you follow the plan.

Not only will a relapse prevention plan help to reduce the likelihood of a relapse happening, but it can help you get back on track faster if one does occur.

What to Do After a Relapse

If a relapse happens, there are things you can do to get back on your recovery plan quickly and prevent one from happening again.

  • Spend some time reflecting on the relapse, especially what was going on beforehand and which triggers set it in motion. You’ll know to be extra careful about avoiding those particular triggers in the future.
  • Second, spend some time with your support system, whether that is family and friends or a dedicated support group. You should do this as soon as possible after your relapse rather than trying to handle it on your own.
  • Last, consider going back to treatment. Revisiting a substance abuse treatment center does not mean your recovery has failed. It simply means there is more work to be done or, perhaps, some changes are needed in your recovery strategy.

While addiction can be heartbreaking, help is always available. At Adelante Recovery Center, we offer programs that offer true healing. Call us today at 949-427-9099 to start your journey to lifelong sobriety.



1. https://www.verywellmind.com/why-did-i-relapse-21900

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