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  • Writer's pictureThe Counseling Center

Understanding Relapse: Causes, Prevention, and Moving Forward

When someone is working hard to stay away from drugs or alcohol, sometimes they might slip and use again. This is called a relapse. It's a common part of trying to overcome addiction, but it doesn't mean someone has failed or can't get better. Think of it as a bump in the road on the journey to living without drugs or alcohol.

What is Relapse?

First, let's talk about what relapse is. A relapse refers to someone going back to using drugs or alcohol after trying to stop. There's a small slip, called a lapse, where someone might use just once and then return to their recovery efforts. Then there's a full-blown relapse, where someone starts using regularly again, just as they did before they tried to quit. There are three stages to relapse: emotional, mental, and physical. It starts with feeling upset or stressed (emotional), then thinking about using (mental), and finally, actually using drugs or alcohol (physical).

What Can Trigger A Relapse? 

A lot of different things can lead someone to relapse, and it's crucial to know what these triggers are so you can avoid them. It is important to realize that you or someone in recovery will more than likely face triggers at some point, so it is important to create a plan to avoid or deal with them ahead of time.

  1. Stress: Stress is one of the most common triggers. When life gets tough, it's easy to think about going back to old habits as a way to cope. 

  2. Environmental Cues: There are places, people, or even certain things that remind you of using drugs or alcohol. These are called environmental cues, and they can make the urge to use really strong without you even realizing why. 

  3. Social Pressure: Lastly, hanging out with friends or being in situations where drugs or alcohol are around can make it super hard to say no. This kind of social pressure is tough because it challenges your resolve to stay sober, especially if you're trying to fit in or if everyone around you seems to be having a good time. 

Prevention Strategies to Avoid Relapsing

To keep on the path of recovery and reduce the risk of relapse, having a solid plan filled with prevention strategies is key. One of the most effective tactics is building a strong support network. This means surrounding yourself with people who understand your journey and can offer encouragement when times get tough. 

It's also helpful to learn and practice coping skills for dealing with stress and negative emotions without turning to substances. Activities like exercise, meditation, or picking up a new hobby can be great outlets. Additionally, avoid places or situations that might tempt you to use again. If you know certain environments or social gatherings are risky for you, it's okay to skip them. 

How to Move Forward After a Relapse

If a relapse happens, it's not the end of the world. It's a sign to take a closer look at your recovery plan and maybe make some changes. The most important thing is to get back to your efforts to stay sober. This might mean asking for more help from people who understand what you're going through or finding new ways to deal with stress and triggers.

Get Immediate Help at The Counseling Center

Remember, dealing with addiction is tough, and relapses can happen. But it doesn't mean you've failed or can't achieve a life free of substance abuse. It's just one step in a longer journey. If you find yourself struggling, we're here to help. The Counseling Center is committed to supporting you every step of the way. Don't hesitate to reach out for the support you need to keep moving forward.


The Counseling Center

622 6th St, Portsmouth, OH 45662

(740) 354-6685


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