Drug Rehabilitation Blog

If Relapse Occurs, Do I Have to Start Treatment Over

Do I Have to Start Treatment Over if Relapse Occurs?

Treatment is one of the hardest and most rewarding things someone with a substance abuse problem can do for themselves. As with most journeys in life, recovery can come with setbacks. Without the right support system in place, those setbacks can lead to relapse. It’s important for anyone in recovery to know the difference between a slip and relapse and to know what to do if relapse occurs.

Slip Versus Relapse

When someone suffering from substance abuse experiences a slip, it typically occurs either against their knowledge or in an extreme moment of weakness. When the slip is realized there is a sense of remorse and a renewed dedication to sobriety. Relapse is not merely a one-time event, but is instead, continued use and a complete abandonment of the rehabilitation principles and sobriety. Relapse can often begin with an unintended slip and then escalate into a calculated break from treatment. When going through a slip, it’s important to forgive the moment of weakness and understand that is all it is, a time of weakness that does not have to happen again. Self-forgiveness and returning to treatment can keep a singular event from becoming a slippery slope to complete relapse.

Does Treatment End With Relapse?

The statistics for relapse are, frankly, alarming. That is unless you understand the instances between chronic disease treatment and relapse in general. The National Institute of Drug Abuse claims the rate of relapse is somewhere between 40 and 60 percent. Those numbers are high and may even deter someone from entering rehab because they feel the situation is hopeless. The important thing to remember is that addiction is a disease and the rate of relapse is similar to that of other diseases. The key is continued treatment and a commitment to recovery. If relapse occurs, it does not indicate treatment failure, but simply the body’s resistance to recovery. Much in the same way the body may resist healing treatment with other chronic diseases, it is not uncommon or a treatment failure for an addict to relapse in recovery. Continued treatment despite a relapse is the best response.

What to Do If Relapse Occurs

If relapse occurs, it is important to seek continued treatment. While it’s never a good idea to enter treatment with the notion that relapse is acceptable or to be expected, it’s also not a good idea to turn away from treatment in the face of a relapse. Having a strong support system can help an addict realize that they have value and that it’s worth continuing treatment despite the relapse. Just because this has occurred does not mean that treatment has to start over from the beginning. For some individuals beginning again may be the most therapeutic, where others can pick up at a point in the treatment process where they feel they need to make more progress.

Why Does Relapse Happen?

Addiction is a disease that has negatively altered the brain. Treatment seeks to change the brain positively. Relapse occurs because even though the brain is learning other responses to using, the area of the brain that controls these reactions fails during a time of need. It takes time for the appropriate responses to become automatic. For many, it will never become automatic, but they will experience a moment of choice, where they understand that they have options. Before treatment, they never felt they had a choice because their brain didn’t know how. The damage that occurs to the brain during substance abuse can be extreme; it’s unlikely that treatment will ever be able to restore the brain to its pre-damaged state. What is possible is that treatment and time away from the substance allows the brain and body time to heal and create new behavioral patterns. The brain can be retrained to have different responses to cravings and events that were triggers prompting substance use.

Addiction is a painful disease that requires ongoing treatment. If given a choice, inpatient treatment is ideal for all types of substance recovery. It’s easier to focus on recovery without the outside world getting in the way. Leaving the safety of the sober environment can be terrifying and leave a person feeling vulnerable. Inpatient facilities will help ease the patient back into society while maintaining the security of the treatment environment. While relapse is a risk regardless of treatment location, inpatient centers are better able to equip patients with the tools and aftercare support necessary to help all who suffer from addiction beat the odds.

9 Comments

  • Sophie ann

    Reqlly intersting article about how relaps works and why it occurs and so on. I think that the slip can happen easily but if one keeps going and realizes it is just a slip and it does not happen again, than it is okay, i think that is also why is good to have a sponsor. Cause they can help you to make sure it does not repeat again. I think that if a person does a really effectiv and thorough rehab program, than even if the person slios it does not become a relapse cause they comminted to the program, and actually the other issues have been handled and onyl the physical problem is there, that is also why is key to really choose a effective rehab program.

  • David H

    This is very interesting. I did not know that there was actually a difference in the slip and in the relapse. I can just hinestly imagine that when a person returns to their home, how hard it can be for them, cause in one way or an other that does remind them if their old self and their old habits, so it is probably very easy to relapse and easier to slip. But I guess if one is rrally commited and know how the whole thing works, how the brain works they can resist even if they have slipped. They can get always help, they can always call their sponsor. And honeslty it is better to go back to the fehab if they relapse than to ignore it and give up. I beleive that everyone can be clean and sober, maybe for some it will take extra time and extra work, but if they are dedicated they can do it!

  • Wallace Macormack

    I think that it is important to determine whether or not you are facing a relapse or a slip. I honestly did not differentiate between the two. I think that it was quite a simple fact that needs to do with the terminology. I only thought that there was a relapse if the person used again. I think that this simple fact is something that is very important to realize that there is a difference between the two. I have read many different stories about the relapse percentages of different rehabs and honestly they are quite disappointing. I have seen that there is a greater success rate with the different methods that best drug rehabilitation uses as opposed to the normal rehab techniques that other places use. I also see that there is a factor where you can’t be too hard on a person that is coming off of drugs, as it is not the easiest thing in the world to do this. There is a lot to look at and the main factor is the fact that often times a person who has been addicted to drugs will have a difficult time as the body does get used to the drug being in the system and as a result of this it can be pretty dangerous for the person to come off of the drugs. I think that this is something to appreciate in the path of someone who slips from their rehab and sobriety. I can only imagine how difficult it is to get off of the drugs. There is such a problem for the person to come off that sometimes they have difficulty. I really like the way that this is put as this is an important topic to understand.

  • Ben Jet

    Ah, relapse. This subject matter rings true with me on a very personal level. I found this article to be very true to the point and very realistic as well. Relapse has got to be the worst aspect of addiction there is. It’s the biggest failure ever, because after trying so hard to stay clean and sober and after even achieving a period of sobriety, one moment can seem to ruin all of that.

    Too many people though get into this idea that relapse is the end of the world. Not so. I am very involved in the community somewhat near to the Best Drug Rehabilitation’s center, and I can say first hand that a lot of people who abuse drugs and alcohol do relapse yes, but then they move past it and get over it. Relapse is not the end of the world. It’s as simple as that, and I felt that was the true point of the article. From the article it reads, “If relapse occurs it is important to seek continued treatment. While it’s never a good idea to enter treatment with the idea that relapse is acceptable or to be expected, it’s also not a good idea to turn away from treatment in the face of a relapse.” This couldn’t be more true.

    A lot of people feel like when they relapse they just completely trashed years of hard work. It certainly feels that way, but it is not that way. The truth is, a relapse is a moment of weakness and it is a setback there is no doubt about that, but it definitely is not the end of the world. The important thing to do next is to just get up and move on and reenter a rehab program, preferably the one you went to initially.

    I also felt the part about why relapses happen was really true to the point as well. There’s been so much misconception in the past over why exactly relapses occur, but this section lays it out plain as day. “Treatment seeks to alter the brain in a positive way. Relapse occurs because even though the brain is learning alternate responses to using, the area of the brain that controls these responses fails during a time of need”. I couldn’t have put it better myself. Some people say, “Once an addict always an addict”. While I feel that is a bit of a stretch, there is certainly something about the workings of the brain of an addict and the addictive personality that never really leaves the person. I’ve known older men and women both who had been sober for two, three, even four decades and they still had to be careful and live their lives a certain way to avoid relapse.

    I truly believe that Best Drug Rehabilitation is doing something great for our community and for our entire state. I’ve seen the drug problem get less and less in all of western Michigan because of them, and I wish them the best as they continue the crusade for a sober Michigan! My support is with them because I’ve seen first hand in my work and in my circles the positive effects of their program.

  • Brooklyn Hestings

    I like the way this puts it. The fact that there is a recognized difference between slipping up and a full on relapse is a good thing to read. It is interesting to see that there is so much negativity out there and I think that this puts a positive light on it, and makes it into an easier thing to face. Just because you fall off of the wagon once does not mean that this is the end of the world, instead you should look at it as an obstacle that is there to overcome. When you are going through the struggles of rehab you have to realize that you are retraining the way that you think and this is not something that happens overnight. It took some time for you to get into the condition that you got yourself in, and the quicker you see that the easier that is to face. Now that does not mean that you should expect this, but at the same time the important thing to look at is that you need to stay active with your support team and getting them to see that you need their help.

  • carcol

    I know relapse is one of the things that people I have known with addiction problems have always worried about. Treatment is good and helpful but what if it doesn’t work, what if I relapse, etc. I don’t want to do all that work for nothing. I can completely understand this and this article does answer a lot of those questions and lets the person know that it is not the end of the world if it happens and if it does, get right back up and back onto your program. I think like anything else in life, it’s not easy and if you really want it, you have to keep going and not let setbacks steer you away from getting well.

  • Sam L.

    What an incredible article. Talks about relapse and how it works. Very interesting and informative. When a relapse occurs its so important to get help and the treatment. It’s never a good idea to go get treatment with the idea that relapse is OK or to be expected, it’s also not a good idea to turn away from treatment in the face of a relapse. Its so important to get the the help and have a get strong support system to help you if you ever had a relapse. For some individuals beginning again may be the most therapeutic, where others can pick up at a point in the treatment process where they feel they need to make more progress. That way if something didn’t work right the first time they can learn from that and try a different treatment plan.

  • sam L.

    What an incredible article. Talks about relapse and how it works. Very interesting and informative. When a relapse occurs it’s so important to get help and the treatment. It’s never a good idea to go get treatment with the idea that relapse is OK or to be expected, it’s also not a good idea to turn away from treatment in the face of a relapse. It’s so important to get the the help and have a get strong support system to help you if you ever had a relapse. For some individuals beginning again may be the most therapeutic, where others can pick up at a point in the treatment process where they feel they need to make more progress. That way if something didn’t work right the first time they can learn from that and try a different treatment plan.

  • Reka

    This is a very good article about realpse and how to prevent it. Most people are not educated in this subject, so it is good to know how to deal with it if they have someone like this in their family or so. And it is also super important of course to choose the right rehab in the first place. I think that behavioral rehab servides are reall good for example They really have helped already so many people to deal with their addiction, they are helping every day, and I think that they will keep going cause they are fantastic. I think it is really an amazing job what they do. It is always amazing to help people, specially those who have drug issues. So helping these people to get back to thise sincere life, takes work, and that is why it is so amazing that for example brs exist and they do this and are helpimg so many people. Those that hage gone through their program are all changed people and will all tell you the same that it saves their lives. I think that one reason is because they are very nice people and are there becauae they want to help and because they sit down with everyone and take all their personal experience into account and Based on that they help them so all their issues are taken into account. And of course the holistic approach is very important too.

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