What Happens If I Relapse During Or After Rehab?

Medically Reviewed by Johnelle Smith, M.D. on

Experiencing a relapse of an opioid, alcohol, or stimulant addiction doesn’t mean that your recovery journey is a failure. People can continue substance abuse treatment after a relapse via recovery tools such as therapy and peer support systems.

What Happens If I Relapse During Or After Rehab?

Many Americans who receive addiction treatment for drug or alcohol abuse will relapse at least once during their recovery journey.

However, this doesn’t mean that you or your loved one can’t attain a drug-free life. A relapse during or after a drug treatment program doesn’t signal the end of your journey.

Substance abuse treatment centers will work with former clients who’ve relapsed, or people may choose to receive care at another treatment facility.

Learn about what happens after a relapse either during or following addiction treatment, recognize the signs of a relapse, and discover ways to prevent future relapses.

Steps To Take If A Relapse Occurs

Substance use disorders (SUD) are a mental health condition, and one main symptom is experiencing cravings for drugs or alcohol.

This can mean that even if someone doesn’t want to engage in substance use, they may anyhow. Chemical dependency can lead to multiple relapses, even after a period of sobriety.

There are certain steps to take when a relapse occurs, which may vary depending on whether or not the person is currently receiving treatment at a rehab facility.

Relapses During Addiction Treatment

People attending a drug rehab program, whether it’s an inpatient, outpatient, or residential treatment program, who’ve relapsed can find help at the treatment facility.

After a relapse, treatment providers typically respond with a compassionate and supportive approach.

You may undergo reevaluation to adjust your treatment plan, focusing on identified triggers and underlying issues.

The goal is to learn from the relapse, strengthen coping skills, and continue on the path to recovery with renewed determination and resilience.

Relapses After Addiction Treatment

After a relapse post-addiction treatment, it’s crucial to address the situation promptly and reconnect with a support network.

This can include counselors, therapists, or support groups like Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) or Narcotics Anonymous (NA).

A revised treatment plan may be necessary to reinforce relapse prevention strategies. If detoxification is necessary, specialists at a detox center can help manage withdrawal symptoms.

Additional therapy, counseling, or medication adjustments may be recommended to address underlying issues or triggers. Re-entering an addiction treatment center may also be helpful.

View the relapse as a temporary setback rather than a failure, emphasizing the importance of learning from it and redoubling efforts to maintain sobriety.

Warning Signs Of A Relapse

There are various warning signs to look for of a potential relapse. Some can be more apparent than others, and a relapse can gradually build or quickly happen during the recovery process.

Behavioral health professionals often recognize a relapse unfolding in different stages. These stages of relapse are called physical, emotional, and mental relapse.

An emotional relapse may involve:

  • bottling up emotions
  • isolation and withdrawal from a support network
  • mood swings and irritability
  • poor self-care habits
  • anxiety, depression, or anger

A mental relapse may look like:

  • romanticizing past substance use
  • cravings and thoughts of using
  • associating with old acquaintances who use
  • lying or planning to obtain substances
  • rationalizing and bargaining with oneself

A physical relapse can look like:

  • actively seeking and using substances
  • loss of control over consumption
  • returning to addictive behaviors
  • increased tolerance and withdrawal symptoms
  • legal, social, and health consequences

Addiction Relapse Prevention Strategies

Relapse prevention strategies are essential for maintaining long-term sobriety in addiction recovery.

Remember that addiction is a chronic disease, so there is a risk of relapse, but with proper planning and support, relapses can be prevented.

Relapse prevention strategies often involve a combination of therapies and coping skills tailored to each individual’s needs.

A relapse prevention strategy may include the following:

  • 12-step programs: Engaging in a structured support network like AA or NA provides ongoing guidance and connection with others in recovery.
  • cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT): Learning to identify and manage triggers and cravings through therapy can significantly reduce the risk of relapse.
  • family therapy: Involving family members in treatment can strengthen a loved one’s support system and help address underlying issues.
  • self-care: Prioritizing physical and emotional well-being through self-care practices is crucial for maintaining a healthy mindset.
  • aftercare: Developing a comprehensive aftercare plan that includes ongoing therapy, support groups, or sober living is essential for the life-long journey of recovery.

A well-structured relapse prevention plan addresses specific risk factors and equips people with the tools to navigate future relapse triggers.

It recognizes that while relapsing is a reality, recovery remains a continuous process, and a strong recovery plan can help people stay on track in their addiction recovery journey.

Find Drug And Alcohol Addiction Treatment Today

You or a loved one can find a drug treatment center by visiting AddictionResource.net today.

This page does not provide medical advice. See more

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Medically Reviewed by
Johnelle Smith, M.D. on
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