Relapse to an Addiction, Behavior, or Substance

The belief is that recovery requires some special strength or willpower that the individual does not possess. Past relapses are taken as proof that the individual does not have what it takes to recover [9]. Cognitive therapy helps clients see that recovery is based on coping skills and not willpower. There are many different models and techniques to include in your relapse prevention plan. They are based on building your knowledge and skills to combat substance use. When an urge comes, it can be difficult to manage it, especially in the beginning of recovery.

Negative emotions such as anger, anxiety, and restlessness may arise during this stage. Cognitive behavioral skills refer to your ability to recognize thought patterns influencing your emotions and determining your behavior. Because everyday life contains many triggers, relapse isn’t uncommon among people trying to get over their disorder. A relapse is the term used when someone ceases to maintain their intent to abstain from the use of drugs and/or alcohol that they determined to harm their lives. With the individual’s consent, make sure all of the important people in their support network have access to a copy of the plan so that they understand their role and how they can support the individual in following the plan if needed.

Resource Box 3. Relapse Prevention Tool: SOBER Brief Meditation

Research shows that those who forgive themselves for backsliding into old behavior perform better in the future. Getting back on track quickly after a lapse is the real measure of success. Relapse is emotionally painful for those in recovery and their families. Nevertheless, the first and most important thing to know is that all hope is not lost. Relapse triggers a sense of failure, shame, and a slew of other negative feelings. It’s fine to acknowledge them, but not to dwell on them, because they could hinder the most important action to take immediately—seeking help.

Mindfulness training, for example, can modify the neural mechanisms of craving and open pathways for executive control over them. How individuals deal with setbacks plays a major role in recovery—and influences the very prospects for full recovery. Many who embark on addiction recovery see it in black-and-white, all-or-nothing terms.

What is Relapse?

The program focuses on reducing unhealthy behaviors such as substance abuse, impulsivity, unhealthy habits, etc., while improving general functioning. Relapse prevention therapy (RPT) is an evidence-based approach that helps individuals who are recovering from substance misuse and addiction. This type of therapy helps by focusing on identifying and addressing triggers, as well as developing coping strategies to prevent future relapses. A relapse prevention plan worksheet that starts with setting personal goals for wanting to stay sober helps a patient find a life purpose. It keeps the patient’s mind distracted and away from the object of addiction.

  • Each week, topics are discussed as a group and participants are given the opportunity to share personal experiences with guidance from a counselor and support from the group.
  • It’s important to know which triggers might cause you to relapse and come up with strategies for managing them.
  • With the individual’s consent, make sure all of the important people in their support network have access to a copy of the plan so that they understand their role and how they can support the individual in following the plan if needed.

It is well documented that with a strong support system that continues to show their unwavering love and support for a complete recovery, the chances of someone reaching long-term sobriety continue to increase. Once triggers and warning signs have been identified, the next step is to identify coping skills and strategies that they can use. Certain evidence has shown that up to two-thirds of chronic drug users slip up within weeks to months of starting treatment, and up to 85 percent of users return to drug use within one year of quitting. These statistics can help you process just how common drug relapse is and how drug addiction is a chronic but curable condition that requires prolonged treatment, just like any other chronic disorder. Helping people understand whether emotional pain or some other unacknowledged problem is the cause of addition is the province of psychotherapy and a primary reason why it is considered so important in recovery. Therapy not only gives people insight into their vulnerabilities but teaches them  healthy tools for handling emotional distress.

Addiction Treatment (Rehab) Guide

The majority of people who decide to end addiction have at least one lapse or relapse during the recovery process. Studies show that those who detour back to substance use are responding to drug-related cues in their surroundings—perhaps seeing a hypodermic needle or a whiskey bottle or a person or a place where they once obtained or used drugs. Such triggers are especially potent in the first 90 days of recovery, when relapse prevention skills most relapse occurs, before the brain has had time to relearn to respond to other rewards and rewire itself to do so. Research has found that getting help in the form of supportive therapy from qualified professionals, and social support from peers, can prevent or minimize relapse. In particular, cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) can help people overcome the fears and negative thinking that can trigger relapse.

  • In particular, it highlights the role of cognitive-behavioral therapy, medications, monitoring, and social support.
  • By recognizing this reality, patients should be motivated to stay on guard and learn as much as they can about how to prevent it.
  • It’s important to remember that relapse usually doesn’t happen immediately.
  • By Geralyn Dexter, PhD, LMHC

    Geralyn Dexter, PhD, LMHC, is a mental health counselor based in Delray Beach, Florida, with a focus on suicidal ideation, self-harm, help-seeking behavior, and mood disorders.

  • Click on the state you are interested in, and you’ll get a list of the best centers in the area, along with their levels of care, working hours, and contact information.