What Is Relapse?

man passed out on table with alcohol learning what is relapse

If you’ve ever heard anything about drug abuse and addiction, you’ve probably heard the term relapse. But what does it mean to relapse? Relapse traditionally means backsliding or worsening. When applied to addiction, relapse additionally means a recurrence of addiction symptoms after a period of recovery or improvement.

In short, a relapse occurs when someone worsens a medical condition they had previously improved. People most commonly use the term when describing how those recovering from drug addiction end up backsliding into drug abuse habits. For example, a recovering alcoholic who starts binge drinking after months of sobriety is going through a relapse.

If you’ve experienced a relapse, it is not the end of recovery. Relapse is a normal part of the process. However, you should seek immediate help from detox programs to get back on track.

Relapse vs. Slips

An individual in addiction recovery going back to their old vice isn’t necessarily a relapse. For example, just because an ex-alcoholic takes a sip of hard seltzer doesn’t mean they’ve fully relapsed.

These small incidents are called slips. Think of a recovering smoker who takes one puff of marijuana before passing it to a friend. Or consider how a gambling addict might buy one lottery ticket.

Slips aren’t the end of the world, but they could be a stepping stone to relapse. These small slips give the user a slight thrill and might remind them of how much fun they had using and abusing their former addiction.

The main difference between slips and relapses is that slips are quick one-time events. Consider the difference between a sip of wine to a full-on binge drinking session.

When slips turn into relapse, remember that experts are always available to help. The specialists at the drug and alcohol detox center in Florida will help you withdrawal safely and comfortably.

Why Do Relapses Happen?

Relapsing by returning to active addiction can happen for many reasons. Anyone in recovery wants to avoid relapsing, but it’s not that easy.

The main reason people relapse is that they encounter one or more common addiction triggers that convinces them to fall back on their old ways. A few relapse triggers include, but aren’t limited to the following:

  • Running into people whom they used to use drugs with
  • Hearing or seeing someone else use substances
  • Bouts of stress such as sickness, unemployment, trauma, breakups, and death of friends and family
  • HALT: hungry, angry, lonely, or tired
  • The user feels overconfident in that one small slip won’t lead them back into relapse
  • Being in social situations where substance use is permitted or encouraged

It’s best to prevent relapses from occurring before it’s too late. Everyone relapses for different reasons, but those who might stray the beaten path show common signs of returning to former addictions. Some signs that someone might be at risk of relapsing include:

  • Romanticizing or talking about how great it was to abuse substances in the past
  • Experiencing extreme stress or bad behaviors
  • Disengaging with social support groups such as Alcoholics Anonymous
  • Thinking of ways to moderately use substances without fully relapsing
  • Withdrawing or isolating from other people

What Is Relapse Prevention?

Preventing relapse often requires professional help such as psychotherapy and other forms of individual addiction care. Cognitive-behavioral therapy is one of the most effective relapse prevention methods because it helps users overcome negative thoughts and prevent self-destructive behavior.

Recovering individuals should also seek support from loved ones and other individuals in active recovery. For example, a person’s spouse can act as an accountability partner and ensure that the user stays away from substance abuse. The person in recovery can also join social support groups like Alcoholics Anonymous, where they can talk through addictions with others.

Preventing relapse can be difficult, but it’s essential to know that nobody is ever truly alone.

Overcome Relapse at Summit Detox

Relapse can ruin all the progress you’ve made. Luckily, you aren’t alone in this endeavor. We at Summit Detox are here to help you detox and get back into recovery. You can contact us at 866.341.0638 today to find out how we can help you live your best life.

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