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Here Are Some Reasons Relapses Occur,
and How You Can Avoid Them


When you are a recovering addict or have someone in your life that is recovering from drugs, all seems well – until sometime later, when you discover they are abusing drugs again, or they suffer from an overdose. Sobriety is a difficult path to be on, and the internal struggle of staying sober is a lifelong process, even after you leave a recovery facility.

Relapses are relapses, no matter the extent or what drug has been consumed. The effects are still the same, and the problem is more widespread than you may think. Medical research has found that relapses are very high among former drug addicts, even if they have been clean for some time – even achieving rates of 40 to 60 percent. If you are a former drug addict, or you have someone in your life who is a former or recovering addict, then you have an idea of the emotional and mental pain that comes with relapses – similar to when you fail in something.

It does not need to happen. However, when it occurs, it can leave you feeling like a failure in life. The first step to dealing with the problem is understanding why it happens in the first place, and to be better at recognizing the warning signs that occur.


What is a relapse?

Simply put, relapses are the recurrences of any illness or condition that had previously gone to recovery or remission. Addiction is among these conditions – it is deemed by many as a chronic condition, and it is subject to periods of relapses.

When you are still in the stages of recovery, you might be exposed to specific risk factors that will enhance your chances of returning to your substance abuse stages.

Note here that relapses are not inevitable, even though they are very common. When you actively follow steps that will prevent substance abuse relapses early in your recovery, you can actually minimize the intensity of relapse periods and reduce the hardships associated with abusing drugs.

Why do relapses occur?

When you fear the unknown, you have a higher chance of going back to what you were previously comfortable with. Turning to drugs such as in cocaine abuse can take a heavy toll on your body, and recovery strips the opportunity for the body to continue having these drugs in its systems. Detoxes and rehabilitation takes the body out of its comfort zone, and forces you to find new ways of dealing with the issues in your life.

When you have a stable network of people in your life to help you deal with your fears, it will help on the path to sobriety. However, there are many times understandably when you think the efforts you are making are not good enough. That is the first doubt that will lead you back to the world of drug addiction, so you need mental support to overcome the fears you have.


The society we live in does not promote mental health, and the stresses of daily life can lead you back to addiction, as well as a host of other effects. These include heart diseases and irritable bowel syndrome.

In the world we live in, it is impossible to eliminate stress from our lives, but you can find healthy outlets to deal with it. If you have addiction issues because of trying to deal with stress, it only gives you temporary relief. You should explore other methods like going out for a walk, deep breathing, other forms of physical exercise like picking up a sport, and other activities.

Feeling negative emotions
Among the biggest risk factors for relapses occurring is having negative thoughts, and allowing them to linger in your mind. They can suck the energy out of you, as they can do with anyone.

Deal with it by avoiding triggers in the first place. If you are around negative people all the time, try your best to reduce their presence in your life. Being around negative people and situations can bring your mood down, and that it a very big risk for relapses. Consider this – you need all the positivity you can get, because your sobriety is worth it.


Loneliness and lack of community support
As a recovering addict or a former addict, it is very important to have a supportive community around you, who can encourage you during the tough times. When you join a recovery program, you are often full of shame and guilt, because you feel you have failed in your previous decisions.

In addition, the networks of people you had in your drug abuse stages do not want to talk to or associate with you, and your family and friends are angry with you because your drug abuse has taken a psychological effect on them as well.

Because of this, the best course to take is getting into meetings and group counseling sessions, and start building new networks with your fellow addicts in recovery. If you commit yourself to a program of sobriety, you do not need to struggle with loneliness again.


Entering a romantic relationship
All relationships require work, but romantic relationships are even more demanding. When you get into one without without being full prepared for all the work you need to do to maintain it, it is a recipe for disaster and can lead you into a relapse.

With such relationships, it is best to hold off on them until you are ready to handle the emotional demands, and also be careful with the people you choose to date – you want a person who is willing to walk with you and support you on your journey of sobriety.

Final thoughts

Relapses are difficult to deal with, and they can take a heavy toll on the former or recovering addict. However, in such situations, it is best to understand the cause of the problem in the first place, and offer as much support to the person as they recover.

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