Is Relapse a Part of the Recovery Process?

Most people that enter a drug rehab will hear the cliche “Rehab is part of the recovery process.” I have experienced a relapse in my recovery and anytime I have talked with my counselor or therapist I have always heard, “Relapse is part of the recovery process.” It seems this expression is often used to prevent someone from giving up on recovery after a relapse. To just say “rehab is part of the recovery process” also may give an addict an excuse to use that one last time. Instead of saying relapse is part of the recovery process, it’s better to say that relapse does happen in recovery, but it is not a necessary component.

In this day in age, I have seen so many people go through drug rehab to come out and relapse and end up having a fatal overdose. My heart just sinks anytime this happens. You are talking to someone who has just lost their son or daughter to a fatal overdose after just going through rehab. For them to hear, well “Relapse is part of the recovery process.” It would be more comforting to tell them it is more common for recovering addicts to relapse after treatment than it is for them to stay sober.

Is Relapse a Part of the Recovery Process?

What Is a Relapse in Addiction Recovery?

Relapse occurs when an individual returns to substance use after a period of abstinence. Relapse makes a person feel like a failure. It leaves an addict feeling hopeless, depressed, and anxious. A lot of people relapse before obtaining any length of continuous sobriety.

The National Institute for Drug Abuse states that:

The chronic nature of the disease means that relapsing to drug abuse at some point is not only possible but likely.” It is estimated that between 40-60% of individuals relapse with substance abuse disorders in comparison to 50-70% who relapse with asthma and hypertension. (NIDA)

Don’t be ashamed if you’ve relapsed, it’s important to simply pick yourself back up, swallow your pride, and try again. As long as you’re still breathing, recovery is possible again and there is nothing that can stop you.

Why Does Relapse Happen?

Recovery from drug addiction is extremely difficult. It requires significant behavioral and lifestyle changes and most importantly a strong desire to get and stay clean. Some individuals feel like they are forced into rehab by their friends and/or family when they aren’t ready to take the steps to recovery. If an individual isn’t ready for recovery, most likely they are going to experience a relapse. However, as an individual accrues more and more time sober, relapse will be less likely to happen.

Relapse doesn’t mean you are weak or lack willpower. Addiction has a major impact on the brain. It takes months for the brain to return to a normal state after years of substance abuse. If relapse was a momentary mistake followed by the individual immediately returning to their recovery plan, then the individual should feel encouraged about their progress in recovery.

If relapse continues to be a problem in one’s recovery, they most likely need to go back to the drawing board and discuss their treatment plan with their providers. Something is not being treated properly if the will and desire to stay clean are there and an individual continues to experience a relapse. For instance, mental illness is something that a lot of addicts suffer with. When an individual decides to seek out treatment, it is so important that they also get treatment for any underlying depression, anxiety, or other mental illness that they may be suffering from. Recovery is possible with the right individualized treatment.

Get the Help You Need

If you or someone you love needs help with an addiction contact Recreate Life Counseling today. Our addiction specialists are available around the clock to help you with our solution-focused treatment approach. If you’ve relapsed and are having a tough time getting sober again, please reach out for help as soon as possible. Recreate your life today with our evidence-based addiction treatment!