Recovery from substance use disorder (SUD) is an ongoing, often lifelong endeavor. It is common for those who are just beginning their sobriety or working to balance their sobriety outside of treatment to experience cravings, urges, stress, and more. Unfortunately, relapse is a common setback during recovery. Although relapse can be wholly detrimental, relapse does not equal failure or indicate that a healthy, sober life is somehow “impossible.” Rather, taking educated steps to refocus an individual’s sober efforts and regain control of their journey is necessary to establish long-lasting recovery.

What Is a Relapse?

While some people may experience a slip in recovery – an event where a person engages with addictive substances in a single, isolated event but is able to effectively refocus their efforts – others may experience a much more self-destructive course. A relapse is a return to the consistent and conscious use of addictive substances as well as the mentalities, practices, routines, or social groups that accompany such destructive use. A relapse is an intense and dangerous situation, and it is necessary to take immediate action when the signs and symptoms of relapse manifest. 

Is Relapse Always a Part of Recovery?
Is Relapse Always a Part of Recovery?

Relapse doesn't have to be a part of your recovery journey. Learn to prevent relapse and maintain your sobriety. Call Hawaii Island Recovery at (866) 390-5070.

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Not only may those experiencing a relapse regularly engage with addictive substances, but it is also common to then view their own recovery efforts as hurdles in the way of continued use of drugs or alcohol. In other words, recovery efforts may be viewed as problematic rather than the valid, supportive, and transformational strategies that they are. Relationships with family, friends, peers and other supports can all become compromised as well. 

It is also common that those re-engaging with addictive substances will do so at the same intensity as before they began their detox program and professional treatment. However, a person’s body may no longer be able to process intense levels of substances. As a result, potentially fatal levels of alcohol and drug consumption and overdose are common and incredibly dangerous. 

Navigating Relapse

Relapses can be devastating. Not only can they have profound effects on an individual’s physical and mental health, but overcoming a relapse can involve intense feelings of guilt, shame, and more. Returning to active recovery efforts is necessary in order to best refocus and create a new recovery plan based on the circumstances surrounding the relapse. However, there are also additional steps that may be necessary to effectively address the effects and ramifications of a relapse.

Take a Deep Breath

Relapses are complicated. An individual may be experiencing a number of conflicting emotions between their compulsive desire to engage with drugs or alcohol and their better judgment and sober efforts. However, before acting, it is important to take a deep breath to situate oneself amidst challenging emotions and stresses. Engaging in calming activities, self-care, and a moment of respite is necessary to clear the mind and prioritize the next course of action. 

Contact Supports

Admitting to relapse is difficult. However, it is also necessary for lasting recovery. Being honest about the situation is paramount for getting back on the sober path as timely as possible. Supports are essential throughout even the most challenging of times. Informing support of what happened, the situations that led to relapse, and any other key information can ensure that all are on the same page when recommitting to active sober efforts. 

Utilize Detox

Before an individual can begin effectively and professionally addressing the factors that led to relapse, it is important to dispel the toxins and addictive substances from their body. Re-engaging in professional detox programs is necessary, as withdrawal symptoms and other challenges may arise following relapse. 

Address Relapse Triggers and Stressors

Relapse can occur for many different reasons, and the experience will be unique to each individual. Unforeseen stresses throughout the recovery process, such as exploring new social outlets, navigating difficult social situations, pursuing professional employment or workplace cultures, financial stresses, and more, are all common stressors for those in recovery. 

Recounting the events directly surrounding the re-engagement with addictive substances and any new stresses or influences that may inform their use is paramount. Using journals to recall particular events or discussing the entire week before the relapse occurred can all be necessary to uncover the unique stresses behind why an individual may have been compelled to use drugs or alcohol

How to Begin Reconnecting With Family in Sobriety
How to Begin Reconnecting With Family in Sobriety

Reconnecting with the family is a difficult but important part of the recovery process. Learn to rebuild these relationships by calling (866) 390-5070.

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Recommitting to Treatment

Just because an individual has experienced a relapse doesn’t mean that everything they have learned and all of their recovery or self-care strategies have been ineffective. Rather, it can mean that certain skills may need to be adjusted or entirely new strategies need to be developed to cope with new situations. 

An individual does not necessarily have to entirely “start over” on their recovery journey. Depending on the circumstances, some individuals may benefit most from returning to a residential center for alcohol and drug treatment while these strategies are developed, while others may find success in refocusing their efforts and strategies during intensive outpatient care. Which is most appropriate will depend on the individual, the circumstances, and their exploration of stresses alongside professionals.

Make the Changes

Identifying relapse triggers is the first step, as profound change is needed to prevent relapse in the future. Considering a relapse to be a “fluke” can be incredibly dangerous, opening the doors for relapse to happen again. It takes effort to make the necessary changes to prevent relapse in the future, but it is also necessary to continue thriving in a life of sobriety. 

Relapses are dangerous, but we at Hawaii Island Recovery are prepared to help you refocus on your sober efforts in the event that relapses do occur. We are prepared to help you detox and confront the stresses surrounding relapse, all while creating a community of peer support and understanding throughout your recovery journey. From our effective detox programs to outpatient support, our effective treatment programs in Hawaii are ready to be customized to your unique needs, goals, and challenges at any stage of recovery. Overcoming a relapse and continuing on your sober journey is always possible, and we at Hawaii Island can help you today. For more information on how we can personalize your time with us, call (866) 390-5070.