Each year, millions of Americans take the essential steps to begin their journey to sobriety. Some choose an inpatient addiction treatment center and others, seek guidance and support through various forms of outpatient services. Regardless of their initial chosen path, everyone who achieves sobriety and strives for long-term recovery will face various difficulties and stumbling blocks along the way. According to data from the National Institute on Drug Abuse, relapse rates for those struggling with addiction are high. It is estimated that as many as 60% of recovering addicts will experience at least one instance of relapse after completing an addiction treatment program. Of those, as many as 85% will relapse within the first year after seeking treatment.
What Is a Relapse in Addiction Recovery?
Relapse of a condition is not something that is unique to addiction. Addiction is a medical disorder, and like many medical disorders, while treatable, certain circumstances and situations can cause symptoms to return. As it relates to addiction, a relapse is when someone who has completed treatment or struggled with addiction in the past resumes their addiction behaviors again after a period of abstinence (sobriety). The American Society of Addiction Medicine defines relapse as the “recurrence of behavioral or other substantive indicators of active disease after a period of remission.”
As noted above, relapse is a very common occurrence with addiction recovery. It is not uncommon for someone attempting to overcome addiction to experience one or more relapses before successfully quitting. However, it is important, even crucial, to note that relapse is not a sign of failure. Many recovering addicts feel as though they have failed at their sobriety efforts if they relapse. This is not the case. The best addiction treatment programs plan ahead for the possibility of relapse and exposure to relapse triggers through comprehensive aftercare and relapse prevention planning.
Common Relapse Triggers Recovering Addicts Experience
To remain successful as you pursue ongoing sobriety, it is essential to know your personal triggers so you can better learn to manage them in a healthy way or avoid them altogether. Several common triggers frequently contribute to relapse. Although not every trigger will affect every person, understanding the most common risk factors can ensure you are better able to maintain your recovery.
People, Places, and Things
Someone who struggles with an addiction often surrounds themselves with like-minded people who share the same desires. Being around these individuals while you attempt to maintain sobriety can easily trigger a relapse. This also applies to family and loved ones. If your significant other used or drank with you but has not decided to get sober yet, they could be a trigger. Also, it is beneficial to avoid old “hangouts” such as bars, casinos, and other places that remind you of using or drinking. The “places” that remind you of using or drinking are often quite personal. For some, it may be the local bar, whereas, for others, it may be a sporting event. It is important to understand your personal triggers and do your best to avoid them to reduce the risk of relapse. Addiction impacts the brain and changes how the brain communications and functions. For some, the smallest things (credit cards, bottles, straws, pill bottles, etc.) can trigger thoughts of using or drinking.
Mental Health Struggles
When seeking addiction treatment, it is also vital to address any underlying mental health conditions that co-occur with substance use. Addiction and mental health are strongly connected. Many who experience overwhelming or difficult symptoms related to mental health will turn to drugs or alcohol as a way to reduce the intensity of their symptoms. Self-medicating in this way often leads to addiction. If you complete an addiction treatment program but triggering mental health symptoms are still a challenge, it can eventually lead to relapse.
Other common relapse triggers include boredom, isolation, overconfidence, and others. Addiction is a very personal struggle, and therefore, so are the factors that feed it. Relapse triggers are one of those factors. Those circumstances or situations that may be triggering for you may not be for someone else. As you progress through treatment, it is important to identify your unique triggers so that you can learn to manage them safely and effectively during early recovery and beyond.
Struggling With Addiction? Reach Out to Us at Bayshore Retreat Today
The first step on the journey to recovery is achieving sobriety. If you are ready to take that first step, reach out to the team at Bayshore Retreat today. Our caring and compassionate admissions team can help you schedule a tour of our luxury, Destin, Florida location.