Relapse is a common occurrence in the recovery journey. A study published by the National Institutes of Health concluded that around half of individuals who have been through addiction treatment relapse within the first 30 days after leaving their treatment program, and up to 85% relapse within the first 12 months.1 It’s perfectly normal to worry about relapsing. Fortunately, experiencing a relapse does not mean you have failed, and it does not mean you have to start over at square one — not if you have made a plan for relapse in addiction recovery.
Though it is common, relapse is also highly dangerous. People who have gone through the detox process may be at high risk of accidentally ingesting a fatal dose of drugs or alcohol because their bodies can no longer metabolize high doses of the substance.
Being worried about relapse is a sign that you’re taking recovery seriously and want to maintain your health long after treatment ends.
5 Tips for Avoiding a Relapse
There’s more to maintaining recovery than just hoping you’re strong enough to resist temptation. That’s good news! You can be better equipped to handle triggers by following the tips below.
1. Understand Withdrawal
Going through detox can be challenging, but it’s important to realize that physical detox is only the first step. It is normal to continue having emotional and psychological withdrawal symptoms, such as cravings, long after detoxing your body. Speak with your recovery specialist about the common withdrawal timeline for your specific circumstance. Knowing what to expect will help you be better prepared to handle symptoms if or when they arise.
2. Take Care of Your Mental Health
Approximately half of all people with an addiction disorder have an additional mental health concern, such as depression or anxiety.2 During addiction treatment, some people receive a diagnosis and appropriate therapies for dual diagnosis. However, once they finish their rehab program, they must continue caring for their mental health independently. Making sure you continue to address mental health concerns should be part of your relapse addiction recovery plan.
3. Recognize Your Triggers
You may feel the urge to relapse when you visit certain places or people or when you face certain kinds of circumstances — these experiences are referred to as triggers. Relapse triggers include:
- Feeling unappreciated or misunderstood
- A sensation that reminds you of substance use (a sight, sound, or smell)
- A major life change, such as getting a new job, moving, or starting/ending a relationship
- Being near a place where you used to buy or use substances
- Feeling guilty
During treatment, your recovery counselor will help you identify your specific triggers in greater detail. You can’t avoid everything that tempts you to relapse. Stress and boredom are normal parts of life. But you can learn how to manage uncomfortable feelings and plan what to do when triggers arise.
4. Stay Active in Recovery
Too many people who go through recovery convince themselves that they don’t need to stay connected with a recovery network once their initial treatment is over. Actively participating in 12-Step programs and other recovery-related groups or activities can be a powerful part of avoiding relapse. Participation helps you stay accountable and committed to your sobriety. It also helps to have supportive peers who understand what you’re going through.
5. Take Care of Your Physical Health
It may be harder to avoid any sort of temptation when you’re tired, hungry, or feeling sick. Put self-care at the top of your priority list to help avoid relapse. Develop a healthy sleep routine, and eat a healthy diet. See a health care professional if you are feeling ill. Support your efforts in addiction recovery by caring for your body.
Contact Desert Recovery for Relapse in Addiction Recovery
If you relapse, the most important thing is to get help immediately. At Desert Cove Recovery, we understand that relapsing may feel discouraging, but it doesn’t have to derail all your progress. Let us help get you back on the path with relapse in addiction recovery services. Call Desert Recovery today for more information.
Sources: https://nida.nih.gov/publications/drugs-brains-behavior-science-addiction/treatment-recovery  https://www.samhsa.gov/medication-assisted-treatment/medications-counseling-related-conditions/co-occurring-disorders