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Myths undermining recovery part 4: Relapse means failure

Contrary to being considered an exception, relapse post addiction recovery is very common. It is an opportunity to learn more about the nature and dynamics of one’s addiction in more depth than before.

According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, 40 to 60 percent of individuals battling addiction will relapse. Similar to other chronic diseases, addiction has its cycles of relapse and remission. Hence, recovery does not always follow a straight path. Proper rehabilitation and recovery is necessary as addiction’s progressive nature can lead to disability or ultimate death.


There are several reasons for relapse that are discussed below.


Acute stress doesn’t just lead to drug abuse in vulnerable individuals, but also increases the risk of relapse in recovering addicts. Post recovery is a delicate period for recovering as they are still adjusting back to normal. There are too many expectations and fears that govern their minds and the slightest setback can send them reeling back.


It is vital for a newly recovered addict to establish a routine. A schedule, responsibilities and accountability provide a safe framework for sustained recovery. Drugs or alcohol provide an easy option for relief and recreation during times of idleness.

Associations to addictive behavior

Being around people and places associated with the addiction often contributes in pushing a person towards relapse. For example, going back to a favorite bar or hanging out with a crowd that indulges in the addictive behavior may tempt an individual to falter. It is highly encouraged to avoid these temptations, especially in the early delicate phases of recovery.

Negative emotions

Those struggling with addiction often deem frustration, anger, anxiety and loneliness as triggers for relapse. An important example is that of unrealistic expectations and those recovering may take on greater tasks in an effort to prove to themselves and others how strong they are or attempt to make up lost time.

Falling short on these expectations may cause pessimism, and drugs and alcohol might be used as the quickest escape from such feelings.


Pent up resentment toward a person or place can usually be so overwhelming that self-medicating is a common way to overcome it. This often leads to self-pity, convincing one of having earned the right to drink or use.

Addicts often resent themselves more than others. This resentment could be ongoing and perpetuate a steady buzz in their heads. They may feel like failures as their lifelong dreams and goals are forced to take a back seat due to their addiction.

Relapse can take many shapes and forms. However, the focus should remain on committing to a stronger, more formidable recovery plan in the future. Relapse is part of the process as an individual’s entire existence adjusts to numerous mental, emotional and physical changes. As a loved one, the biggest responsibility to be undertaken is that of maintaining open communication based on patience and understanding.

Twelve-step meetings, sponsorship, counseling and religious or spiritual engagement have all proven to be reliable support systems to help a person stay strong during recovery.

The Recovery Helpline is open 24/7 to help you achieve your best shot at recovery. We connect those in need with the best treatment programs for their needs to help them regain sobriety. For more information you can speak to a member of our team at 855-441-4405.


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