There are a few things that many people engaged in addiction recovery programs are hoping to avoid, and at or near the top of any such list for those dealing with substance abuse addiction is relapse. Referring to incidents where someone goes back to a given substance of abuse after some initial period of quitting, relapse is unfortunately not uncommon with many substances – but it can also be avoided, and one of the chief methods for doing so is understanding how it often happens to begin with.
At Moonlight Mountain Recovery, finding healthy ways to steer clear of relapse is just one of numerous parts of our caring addiction recovery programs, which include alcohol rehab, drug treatment and several other specific areas. We help patients understand why relapse often happens, plus with the vital process of understanding their relapse triggers to hopefully avoid any such issues in the future. Here’s a rundown on some of the most common causes of relapse during substance abuse recovery, plus what can be done to help counter these risks.
Some of the most well-known relapse causes are known broadly as “triggers,” or people, places and things that can remind patients of their former substance abuse and lead them back down the path toward it. It’s important to remember that triggers are unique to each individual – what might not bother one person in recovery might completely derail another’s sobriety efforts.
Many people find that social triggers are among the most difficult to deal with, as old friends and drinking or drug-using acquaintances can be some of the most common relapse triggers. It’s important to remember that triggers are unique to each individual – what might not bother one person in recovery might completely derail another’s sobriety efforts.
For this reason, identifying and then avoiding as many personal triggers as possible is a key part of relapse prevention for many people. If certain friends are continually leading to temptation or poor choices, it might be necessary to distance oneself from them for a while – or even permanently – in order to stay on the path toward recovery.
Mental Health Concerns
Closely related to triggers are mental health concerns, as people with untreated or undertreated mental health disorders like depression, anxiety or bipolar disorder are at a significantly higher risk of relapse than those without such issues. This is because many people self-medicate with alcohol or drugs as a way of dealing with difficult emotions or situations, and when they enter recovery and give up substance abuse, these problems can become more pronounced.
It’s important to seek professional help for any mental health concerns that might arise during recovery, as left unchecked, they can lead to a dangerous spiral of negative emotions and thoughts that can quickly lead to relapse. In some cases, medication might be necessary in order to help keep symptoms under control – but in all cases, professional guidance and support is vital.
For some dealing with substance abuse addiction, relapse can happen before recovery has even officially begun. This often occurs when people attempt to detoxify from certain substances at home without any professional help, as doing so can be incredibly difficult and even dangerous.
Depending on the substance being abused, withdrawal symptoms during detoxification can range from uncomfortable to life-threatening – and in some cases, they can be so severe that going back to using the substance might seem like the only way to make them stop. In other cases, people might try to detox on their own in an effort to save money, but this can be a false economy, as going through detoxification without professional help can increase the risk of relapse later on.
If you believe detoxification might be necessary in order to start your recovery journey, it’s important to seek professional help as soon as possible. Attempting to go through detox on your own can be incredibly difficult and even dangerous, and is best avoided if at all possible.
Lack of Structure
Recovery from substance abuse addiction is often compared to climbing a mountain, in that it’s a long, difficult journey with many potential setbacks – but that doesn’t mean it’s impossible. In fact, many people do succeed in recovering from substance abuse addiction and go on to lead happy, productive lives.
One of the key things that often separates those who relapse from those who don’t is having a good support system and a presence of structure in their lives. When people first enter recovery, they often need to make some major changes in their lives – including where they live, who they associate with and even what they do for work.
For many people, this can be a difficult transition, but it’s often necessary in order to avoid relapse. Having a strong support system in place – including family, friends and professional counselors or therapists – can make this transition much easier, and having a structured daily routine can also help to keep temptation at bay.
All of these factors – triggers, mental health concerns, insufficient detoxification and lack of structure – can lead to relapse for those in recovery from substance abuse addiction. However, by understanding these factors and taking steps to avoid them, it’s possible to stay on the path toward recovery and avoid relapse. If you or someone you know is struggling with substance abuse addiction, please seek professional help as soon as possible.
For more on this, or to learn about our medical detox or other addiction recovery programs, speak to our caring staff at Moonlight Mountain Recovery today.