Common Reasons Behind Relapse and How to Avoid It from Happening

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Common Reasons Behind Relapse and How to Avoid It from Happening

Remaining sober after completing treatment can be challenging. Studies from the National Institutes of Health show that up to 85% of people who completed a program for drug or alcohol addiction relapse within a year.¹

Although addiction relapse is common, and it does not mean treatment has failed, it can be discouraging and make it more difficult to get back on track. That is why it is essential to know what the most common reasons people relapse are and what strategies can help you avoid them.

Mental Health: When a Co-Occurring Condition Gets in the Way

If you have a substance use disorder along with a mental health condition, you have co-occurring disorders. In the United States, approximately 9.2 million adults struggle with a dual diagnosis.²

Not treating the mental health condition simultaneously as the substance use disorder can be highly detrimental, making it more likely that you will relapse. As soon as the symptoms of mental illness begin again, the desire to use drugs or alcohol to manage them can lead you to use.

Even if you received treatment for mental health conditions, you will need to continue that treatment once you leave a structured program. By managing both conditions, you will be better able to reduce the risk of relapse.

Withdrawal: How Withdrawal Symptoms Can Affect Your Recovery

Another common reason people experience a relapse after going through addiction recovery is that withdrawal symptoms push them to seek relief. People often assume these symptoms disappear after a week or so, but that is not always the case. You may experience post-acute withdrawal symptoms for up to 18 months.

These can include³:

  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Panic attacks
  • Inability to handle stress
  • Severe cravings
  • Difficulty with cognitive tasks
  • Sleep problems

When these symptoms get in the way of everyday life, people may fall back on old habits to get some relief.

To avoid this, you want to stay in touch with your treatment team and consider whether medications can help.

Your Acquaintances: Surrounding Yourself with the Wrong People

One of the first things that recovery programs recommend when you start making arrangements to leave treatment is to ensure you don’t have contact with people who remind you of substance use.

When you had an active addiction, you likely had a group of people with whom you used and who had connections to help you get your substance of choice. These people are linked in your brain with substance use. Because of this, you may find yourself experiencing cravings in their presence, which puts you at risk of relapse.

Self-Care: Why Not Taking Care of Yourself Is Dangerous

Engaging in proper self-care, like eating correctly, getting enough sleep, and staying active, can all signal to your mind and body that you are dedicated to getting healthier. The opposite is also true.

Eating the wrong foods can lead people to gain weight and feel stressed, leading to relapsing. Not getting enough sleep can affect your mood, potentially making you feel anxious, stressed, and depressed — all states that can lead to relapsing.

You need to prioritize self-care by eating correctly, getting enough sleep, and otherwise taking care of yourself.

Isolation: Not Having a Support System Will Damage Your Recovery

After completing treatment, you may feel confident in your recovery and not think you need to rely on support groups. That is dangerously wrong. Isolation is a powerful trigger, worsening mental health and making you feel like you are the only person dealing with these problems.

You can get the support you need by having people you can turn to for help. The best place to begin is by attending 12-Step programs and other support groups.

Identifying and Avoiding Your Triggers

One of the most critical steps you need to take during treatment is identifying the things that can trigger the need to use. These triggers are uniquely personal, but there are some general ones, including:

  • Boredom
  • Stress
  • Over-confidence
  • Certain people, places, or things
  • Physical illness
  • Mental illness
  • Relationships
  • Money problems

Some of these triggers are avoidable. For example, if you know that going to a particular location will bring on severe cravings, avoid going there until you are secure in your recovery.

Social situations where drugs and alcohol are available can also be powerful triggers, so making sober friends is crucial. You want to find people with whom you can do sober activities and still have fun.

Other triggers, like stress, are unavoidable. This doesn’t mean you must give in to the need to use substances again. Having a relapse prevention plan in place can help you manage these triggers.

A relapse prevention plan should identify the people you can call if you struggle and what exact actions you should take, step by step. The more detailed the plan is, the more effective it can be.

You also want to know some mindfulness techniques. These techniques can help you deal with stress and powerful emotions in a healthier way than by turning to drugs or alcohol. Holistic therapies, including team sports and working out, can be extremely helpful, showing you how to stay in the moment and relax.

Avoiding Addiction Relapse by Turning to Silver Sands Recovery

Even if you have completed an addiction treatment program, you may not be secure in your recovery. You may not have learned the right strategies or made the best connections.

We can help at Silver Sands Recovery.

Our team of experts can help you remain sober by aiding you in learning what your triggers are and how you can protect yourself against them. With our focus on mental health and our dedication to offering holistic therapies, we can help you learn how to live a healthier and happier life, addiction-free.

Don’t put yourself at risk of relapsing when there is help available. Contact Silver Sands Recovery today to learn more about our treatment options.






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