Person looking out window and wondering, "What happens when you relapse?"

What Happens When You Relapse?

When you go through an addiction treatment program, you most likely intend to quit using drugs or alcohol for good. While that is ideal and possible for some, the reality is that relapsing is a natural part of recovery. But it does not mean you have failed or will never achieve long-term sobriety. So is it okay to relapse, and how do you get back on track afterward? Becoming familiar with what happens when you relapse and how to handle it before you go into addiction treatment can prevent you from getting discouraged when a relapse occurs.

At Promises Brazos Valley, we understand that relapses happen even when you have the best intentions for your recovery. Returning to your everyday life after completing a treatment program can be overwhelming. But with the right level of support, you can quickly course-correct relapses that do occur. If you need help staying on your path to sobriety, contact us at 979.426.0086.

What Happens When You Relapse?

Relapses can look different for each individual. Some happen suddenly after a person experiences a stressful event, such as:

  • Losing their job
  • Losing a loved one
  • Ending a relationship
  • Being involved in an accident or altercation

In any of these situations, you may not know how to handle the intense emotions and turn to the quick fix of self-medication. 

What Are Typical Relapse Triggers?

Relapses can also creep up slowly. You will probably feel most motivated when completing your addiction treatment program. But over time, that enthusiasm may start to wear off. You might get tired of trying to resist cravings when you encounter triggers like:

  • Seeing other people drinking alcohol when you are out at a restaurant
  • Being around friends or family members who are using substances
  • Seeing people using substances on television or social media
  • Reminiscing about how drugs or alcohol made you feel when you were stressed, anxious, or depressed

Willpower may work for a while when you come face to face with triggers, but it often takes more than this to stay sober for the long term. Many people tire of fighting their urges and eventually succumb to temptation.

Is It Okay to Relapse?

Part of addiction treatment is learning relapse prevention strategies. But even with all the tools and resources offered by highly effective treatment programs, there may be times that you falter. Stress plays a significant role in triggering a relapse, and a demanding job, financial worries, relationship problems, and chronic health conditions can overpower your will to stay sober. 

Relapsing does not mean that you should give up on your recovery. Although it is okay if a relapse happens, your focus should be on doing what you can to prevent it and getting back on track if it does happen. 

What to Do If You Relapse 

If you relapse, the first thing to remember is to avoid beating yourself up over it. Criticizing yourself or feeling like a failure will not help you get any closer to achieving your recovery goals. Practice compassion toward yourself and understand that relapse is a normal part of the process.

From there, it is time to strengthen your support system:

  • Contact a trusted loved one and ask them for support.
  • Reach out to an addiction treatment facility to schedule an assessment.
  • Find a support group where you can talk about your struggles and hear about how other people overcame relapse.

Building this support system will make all the difference in your recovery. It can help you regain motivation after a relapse and prevent future relapses from happening.

Get Back on Your Recovery Path at Promises Brazos Valley

There is no shame in relapse. You should not feel you cannot open up to others. The staff at Promises Brazos Valley offers nonjudgmental, compassionate care for our clients no matter where they are recovering. Whether you need drug or alcohol detox or additional support to help you stay sober, we have a program to fit. Contact Promises Brazos Valley today at 979.426.0086 to get started.

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