Home 9 Relapse 9 Understanding Relapse for Success In Addiction Recovery

Achieving long-term success in sobriety from drug or alcohol addiction is much more likely when you understand all the stages of the relapse process


It is oftentimes believed that in drug addiction and alcoholism that substances are the primary problem, and once removed life will return to normal.  This is far from the reality of the situation. Substance addiction arises from multifactorial variables, such as genetics and the environment.  One’s self-esteem, self-worth, and support network all play major roles in the development of addiction, as well as the progression of the disease.

On the other hand, the exact nature of drug and alcohol dependence categorically leads to decreased self-esteem and self-worth.  The addicts support network changes and many times disappears completely.  Finances are in disarray and employment is affected.  Once a person has reached his/her “bottom”, whether it be from external forces, such as legal or financial issues, medical issues, or relationship issues, the addict or alcoholic becomes ready to make the decision to get help in a drug and alcohol rehab.

To experience addiction treatment success, one must understand that the work that is done in drug and alcohol rehab is only the foundation.  More important is how the patient can integrate back in to the community after treatment.  A person who has not planned for the perils to recovery that they will face upon the return home is certainly going to have trouble in avoiding drug addiction relapse.

On a side note…

One of the primary keys to staying sober is being well tied in with a strong, committed, sober community. These aren’t merely friends, well, some of them are, but there should be at least those 2 or 3 that know you inside and out, and likewise you with them. Yes, you are close friends, but moreover, you are each other’s barometers for truth, honesty and intentions. More important than being friendly and buddy-buddy, you are each there to call each other out when one begins to slip, or cut seemingly insignificant corners. This is your sober circle. All fun and laughter aside, you’re each there to help save each other’s life, and when one of you is on the edge and desperate for support, the others will drop whatever they’re doing!

Best Friends in Sobrierty

Drug addiction relapse can be defined in three major stages as follows:

  • Stage one is an emotional relapse. In this stage the addict may show signs of increase anger, mood fluctuations, low frustration tolerance, elation or depression, and emotional disconnectedness.  To avoid a full physical relapse, it is important that one learn the signs of an emotional relapse, which is a sign of addiction treatment success.  The relapse prevention plan should be fully put into place.  Candidly sharing with others and seeking guidance is key to avoiding drug addiction relapse at this stage.  Success in drug treatment also requires a full commitment to follow-up with counseling and any necessary mental health services, which can prevent an emotional relapse.
  • Stage two is a mental relapse. At this stage, the addicted person will begin to fantasize about drug or alcohol use, plan their relapse, and attempt to hide their plans and feelings.  Also, fantasies about the past and the “fun” times may resurface.  To succeed in drug treatment, prior to discharge, it is important to develop a plan for cravings and the fantasy of using substances.  At this stage of relapse, basic coping skills should initially be employed, such as thought blocking, removal of one from any physical or emotional triggers, and increasing one’s involvement in his/her recovery support network.  Isolation must be avoided at all costs.
  • The final stage of relapse is the physical relapse. At this point the user has reinitiated the use of mood-altering substances.  If the drug or alcohol use is not halted immediately, a full-blown active addiction I likely to occur.  Addiction treatment success is not, however, defined by the lack of a relapse.  Oftentimes, a brief relapse, or one time use, will remind the user of how quickly things spiral out-of-control while taking substances to alter one’s personality and feelings.  The most important thing to do at this stage it to tell another person and ask for help.  Once a substance is taken, it is unlikely that a relapse sufferer will be able to stop on their own.

If there are any questions regarding this article or anything on this website, or if you would like more information on our sober living homes and halfway houses, please contact New Lyfe Solutions 7 days a week at (844) 463-9593. In the meantime we invite you to learn more about us and the various recovery services we offer and work with.
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