Addiction recovery is a lifelong journey. And the path that you walk may not always be smooth. Research shows that relapsing to drug or alcohol use at some point is common.
According to the U.S. National Institute on Drug Abuse, about 40 to 60 percent of people who receive substance use disorder treatment relapse at some point afterward.
Does this mean that treatment has failed? Or that recovery is impossible? On the contrary. Relapse is an expected part of a person’s addiction treatment and recovery process.
What’s more important is how a person — and their treatment team – responds to a relapse, and making a plan to overcome relapse and prevent it moving forward.
What Is Considered A Drug Relapse?
The term “relapse” is generally defined as a return to a previous pattern of drug use or alcohol use following an attempt to quit.
Does this mean that having one drink, or using a drug once after entering sobriety is a full-blown relapse? Not necessarily. That is what many experts refer to as a “lapse.”
The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) describes a lapse as the initial use of a substance after a period of recovery. A relapse is the continued use after that initial lapse.
What Are Common Causes Of Relapse?
A number of factors can contribute to relapse rates. Personal factors like stress, boredom, and loneliness may influence a person’s decision to return to substance use for relief, or comfort.
There are also environmental triggers that can result in a lapse, like going into a bar, or attending a party where other people are using drugs or drinking alcoholic beverages.
Other contributing factors to relapse might include:
- drug or alcohol cravings
- difficulty with mental health
- stopping treatment too soon
- frustration with a treatment program/provider
- coming across a trigger (e.g. running into someone you used to do drugs with)
Is The Rate Of Relapse For Substance Abuse High?
The U.S. National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) notes that relapse rates for addiction are similar to those for other chronic diseases, like hypertension and asthma.
That is, while relapse is a common occurrence, it is not inevitable. And it can occur with a wide range of illnesses, including both physical and mental health disorders.
When Do Most Relapses Occur?
Drug relapse can occur at any point in your recovery. But this most commonly happens within the first year of recovery, especially within the first three months.
Factors that can increase your risk of relapse:
- not continuing treatment after detoxification (detox)
- weak support system (i.e. lack of support from family members or other loved ones)
- protracted withdrawal symptoms (e.g. cravings, insomnia)
- having a co-occurring mental health disorder
- not receiving evidence-based treatment for your condition
- history of severe and/or chronic addiction
- lacking motivation for recovery
What Can Help Prevent Relapse?
Relapse prevention is a skill that is commonly taught within addiction treatment programs for long-term recovery, including our addiction treatment programs at Bedrock Recovery Center.
At Bedrock, we view relapse prevention as a cornerstone of addiction treatment. We teach supportive coping skills and strategies for overcoming triggers in the moment.
Find Help On Your Road To Addiction Recovery Today
Bedrock is an accredited substance abuse treatment facility that offers medical detox, residential inpatient treatment, medication-assisted treatment, a 12-step program, and dual diagnosis care.
Our addiction rehab programs treat alcohol use disorder, opioid use disorder, prescription drug addiction, and other drug use issues.
Call today to learn more about Bedrock and how we help people every day on their own path toward lifelong recovery from drug and alcohol addiction.
Indian Journal of Psychological Medicine — A Comparative Study of Factors Associated with Relapse in Alcohol Dependence and Opioid Dependence
U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) — Reducing Relapse Risk
U.S. National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) — How effective is drug addiction treatment?
U.S. National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) — Treatment and Recovery