Drug addiction treatment and recovery 7: Don’t let relapse keep you down
Relapse is a common part of the recovery process from drug addiction. While relapse is understandably frustrating and discouraging, it can also be an opportunity to learn from your mistakes and correct your treatment course.
What causes relapse?
Various “triggers” can put people at risk of relapsing into old patterns of substance use. Causes of relapse can differ for each person. Some common ones include:
- negative emotional states (such as anger, sadness, trauma or stress)
- physical discomfort (such as withdrawal symptoms or physical pain)
- positive emotional states (wanting to feel even better)
- testing personal control (“I can have just one drink”)
- strong temptations or urges (cravings to use)
- conflict with others (such as an argument with a spouse or partner)
- social pressures to use (situations where it seems as though everyone else is drinking or using other drugs)
- good times with others (such as having fun with friends or family)
The important thing to remember is that relapse doesn’t mean treatment failure. Rather than giving up, get back on the wagon as quickly as you can. Call your sponsor, talk to your therapist, go to a meeting, or schedule an appointment with your doctor. When you’re sober again and out of danger, look at what triggered the relapse, what went wrong, and what you could have done differently. You can choose to get back on the path to recovery and use the experience to strengthen your commitment.
Adapted from helpguide.org