Relapse Prevention - Addiction Recovery

The 10 Most Common Reasons for Addiction Relapses

The 10 Most Common Reasons for Addiction Relapses

Life during recovery can be challenging. Here’s 10 common reasons for addiction relapse. Read our blog to learn how to avoid them!

Written by

brian-mooreBrian Moore

Content Writer

Reviewed by

jeremy-arztJeremy Arzt

Chief Clinical Officer

Relapse Prevention

Addiction Recovery

August 4, 2022

Unfortunately, the chance of relapse for substance use disorder (SUD) is high. Some studies report that relapse rates are between 40 to 60% for all people with SUD.

Luckily, this does not mean there is no hope for you or a loved one. The Edge Treatment Center can help.

Since SUD is considered a chronic disease, much like hypertension and cancer, there is always a chance a relapse can come back, even many years into recovery. Today, we will explore the most common reasons for relapse, so you know what to look out for in recovery.

#1. Stress Levels

High stress is never good for anyone but can be even worse for someone in recovery from SUD. Stress is one of the most common triggers because, before treatment, substances were the remedy for stress for many people.

If this is the case for you or your loved one, you may need to find better coping mechanisms for stress. Some examples include: 

  • Exercising: Taking a walk outside or trying out a new workout class

  • Reaching out to a loved one: Staying in contact with loved ones can help relieve stress

  • Reading: Diving into a new good book is a healthy form of escapism

  • Attending therapy: Talking to an unbiased therapist for advice or just to vent

#2. Returning to Addictive Behaviors 

Returning to addictive behaviors can happen when you leave treatment and don't implement any of the changes or healthy habits you learned during treatment and return to lifestyles, friend groups, or places that remind you of or encourage substance abuse. If you continue the same behaviors as when you were actively addicted, it is much easier to relapse. 

In the beginning, losing relationships or ditching familiar but unhealthy behaviors may seem hard, but it will be worth it in the end. Try creating new routines and habits to start fresh. 

#3. Unrealistic Expectations

Having high expectations can sometimes be a positive and motivating factor to include during your journey. However, if your expectations about your ability to maintain sobriety are too high, you might place undue stress on yourself. You might also set yourself up for failure if you don't anticipate problems and expect to be able to maintain recovery too easily.

Examples of unrealistic expectations include: 

  • Expecting to feel better instantly during treatment

  • Underestimating the difficulties of treatment

  • Expecting that life will be perfect right after treatment

  • Expecting that treatment will fix all the other problems you might have, such as financial stress

#4. The Feeling of Boredom

It is perfectly normal to feel bored after recovering from addiction. You may be used to free time equaling drug use in the past and have just come from the structured daily routine of drug rehab. It is important to embrace this boredom and find new healthy ways to occupy your time.

You could discover new hobbies, take a class, or try new recipes. Don't let boredom and too much free time suck you back into unhealthy habits.

#5. Depression

Feelings of depression can also be a very common trigger for relapse. This is a similar trigger to stress in that substances are often used to mask feelings of depression or other mental health issues. Similarly, substance use can also lead to depression, especially long-term substance use. This can then cause an unfortunate cycle, known as a dual diagnosis, which makes treatment and recovery more complicated. 

#6. Experiencing Withdrawal 

Withdrawal varies with each person depending on many factors, which will determine the severity of their withdrawal symptoms. Most people will experience symptoms within the first week of stopping the use of the substance. Since the withdrawal symptoms can be very intense, they can cause you or a loved one to reengage with the substance to avoid these feelings. 

#7. Lack of Self-Care

Providing yourself with self-care shows you that you are deserving of health and happiness. If you don't prioritize self-care, it can lead to poor mental health, which can then lead to relapse. Good self-care includes good physical health habits, like eating right and exercising, and mental health habits, like attending therapy and giving yourself rest days.

Sometimes, seeing certain objects can be relapse triggers. These things can include glass bottles, medication bottles, needles, or other drug paraphernalia. Other things can include depictions of drug or alcohol use in shows or movies or advertisements for alcoholic beverages. These can be triggers because they can remind you of your addiction and activate cravings and initiate relapse. 

#9. Intimate Relationships 

Being in a relationship can be hard to navigate because of the stress and uncertainty that can come along with dating another person. As a person newly out of recovery, these difficulties can be even worse and can potentially hinder your recovery progress. It is often a good idea to wait until about a year into your recovery before dating.

#10. Celebrations

Even though celebrations such as birthdays and holidays can be something positive, they can also be triggering because substances may be present. You may think you are ready for this type of event so soon, but this may not be the case. Make a plan for staying sober at celebratory events so they don't compromise your progress.

The Edge Treatment Center Helps You Protect Yourself From Addiction Relapse

Relapse is not a sign of failure but an opportunity for growth. It can be beneficial for you or a loved one to understand common triggers to look out for during recovery. This way, you are able to do everything you can to protect yourself or a loved one from relapse.

You are not alone during this journey of recovery and everything that comes after. The Edge Treatment Center is here to be your guide on any questions or concerns you may have during this time. We understand this journey looks different for everyone, so our programs are highly customizable. Contact The Edge Treatment Center today to learn more!

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