Drug Relapse in Addiction
Relapse, in the context of drug use, involves the recurrence of pathological drug use after a period of abstinence. There are various types of substances that may cause addiction or dependence, such as depressants, stimulants, or nicotine. Relapse is now often viewed as the rule rather than the exception in addiction recovery. During the recovery process you may be exposed to certain triggers and other factors that can increase your risk of returning to substance abuse.
There are steps to preventing drug relapse that promote taking action early on to minimize the intensity of a relapse period. Preventative actions can help to reduce the risk for further hardship from substance abuse. The signs of relapse can be broken down into three stages: emotional relapse, mental relapse, and physical relapse. It isn’t uncommon for the return to substance abuse to develop weeks or even months after the initial signs of emotional relapse.
Signs of drug relapse include:
- Compulsive behavior
- Destructive thoughts
- Return to unhealthy behaviors and environments
- Neglect of coping skills and healthy habits
- Isolation from groups and activities
- Mood swings, including the recurrence of depression or anxiety
A National Survey on Drug Use and Health states that 21.5 million American adults battled a substance use disorder in 2014. The rate of relapse varies from substance to substance.
How do you cope when relapse has occurred?
- Place focus on the recovery process
- Evaluate what might have led up to the relapse
- Make an effort to prevent future recurrences
When a relapse does happen, it is important to understand that it does not undo previous progress made in addiction recovery. The coping mechanisms learned in recovery are key tools that you can use when you suspect that relapse may occur or following a relapse. An intensive outpatient treatment program can provide training with techniques to not only recognize when relapse may be occurring, but also how to cope following a relapse.