10 Most Common Reasons for Addiction Relapse

10 Most Common Reasons for Addiction Relapse

Read on to learn more about the ten most common reasons for relapse in addiction and how to seek treatment.

What Is Addiction Relapse?

A relapse is a common medical phenomenon during clinical therapy marked by treatment progress reversal. An example of a relapse is when a patient undergoing substance use disorder treatment who has been sober for a while then regressed back into substance use. Relapse could occur due to the cessation of medication therapy or because of intense cravings and drug-seeking behavior.1

Studies show that during addiction, specific changes are made to the brain due to persistent substance use. One of the hallmarks of addiction is how the dopamine receptors in the brain change, as addictive substances stimulate the production of dopamine excessively. After some time, receptors in the brain responsible for the coupling of dopamine in the brain become down-regulated due to excessive stimulation.2 

Goal of Addiction Treatment

Unfortunately, daily activities are generally insufficient to produce dopamine in levels compared to addictive substances, leading to intense cravings. Preventing addiction relapse is the primary goal of addiction treatment. Even after detoxification has been carried out, these intense cravings and withdrawal symptoms could make patients relapse. 

Reasons For Relapse in Addiction

Addiction Relapse Statistics

While the reasons for addiction relapse vary, studies show that about 40-60% of all patients going through substance use treatment eventually have a relapse.

Research also shows that one of the reasons for relapse is due to lack of proper treatment before gaining sobriety. People who received professional care during the process of detoxification and sobriety were less likely to relapse after three years of being sober.4

Relapse Risk Factors

The cravings associated with relapses tend to reduce the amount of time a person has been sober due to the ability of the brain to regenerate dopamine receptors. Patients who have been fully sober for over two years are less likely to relapse, and generally, relapses are worse in children and teenagers because their brains are still developing.5

It is worth noting that the reasons for relapse in addiction are plentiful, and a relapse doesn't always signal treatment failure. However, it can help healthcare professionals readjust treatment procedures and tackle risks appropriately when relapses are caught in time. 

The Stages and Types of Addiction Relapse 

Healthcare experts can discover the reasons for relapse in addiction by finding out the exact stage of relapse the patient is going through. The cycle of addiction relapse occurs in several stages, which include:6

Emotional Relapse

In emotional relapse, the individual has not re-initiated substance use or thoughts about it because the effects are still generally fresh for them. However, the emotions built up in this phase tend to predispose them to higher levels of relapse as time progresses. 

Emotional relapse is commonly marked by patients being hungry, angry, lonely, and tired (HALT). The significant signs of emotional relapse include constant isolation, bottling up emotions, not going to meetings, deflecting emotions on others, and poor eating and sleeping habits.

Mental Relapse

This is the bargaining phase where individuals fight thoughts of wanting to engage in substance use and thoughts of wanting to continue sobriety. 

Common signs of mental relapse include bargaining, cravings, thoughts about people, places, and things associated with past substance use, minimizing consequences of past substance use or glamorizing past use, lying, thinking of ways to use, and planning a relapse.

Physical Relapse

This is the final stage of relapse and involves the physical re-engagement in substance use. Physical relapse can be divided into lapse and relapse. Lapse is the initial substance use, and relapse is the reengagement in controlled substance use. 

The initial stages of a physical relapse can occur spontaneously when the individual is overwhelmed due to the effects of mental relapse. It is highly essential to seek professional care as early as possible during relapse to prevent relapsing entirely. 

10 Most Common Reasons for Addiction Relapse

There are many reasons why someone might end up relapsing, but some of the most common reasons will be detailed below.

Withdrawal Symptoms

Substance abuse for a prolonged period may lead to withdrawal symptoms after discontinued substance use. These withdrawal symptoms vary in intensity and may be too much for some people leading to substance use relapse. Withdrawal syndrome is one of the significant reasons for relapses in addiction, primarily when detoxification is carried out without professional care. 

Mental Health Issues

Substance use and mental health disorders in some instances go hand in hand, with each condition being able to cause or worsen the prognosis of the other. Mental health issues such as depression or anxiety may make it harder for people to commit to a substance addiction plan, eventually leading to a relapse. 

Exposure to Risks

Risks are factors ranging from people, places, and objects associated with substance use behavior. One of the hallmarks of a relapse prevention program is the avoidance of these risks. 

This is because exposure to them can intensify substance cravings and initiate drug-seeking behavior, eventually leading to a relapse.  

Negative Emotions

Addiction treatment is a complex process and affects people differently. Overall, negative emotions such as a lack of motivation or a poor outlook on the entire treatment process can make relapses much easier. Addiction treatment can only be successful when patients are fully committed and motivated toward the process. 

Lack of Social Support

Humans are social creatures, and people going through addiction treatment need social support more than ever. Social support can come from friends and family or a support group, which is highly integral to preventing relapses. 


Poor Self-Care

Self-care through proper hygiene, good dieting, and exercising is integral to addiction recovery. Poor self-care can worsen negative emotions and lessen motivation. 

Low Self-Efficacy

Self-efficacy is a person's belief in their strengths and ability to overcome a challenge. People with low self-efficacy are more likely to relapse when faced with substance abuse relapse risks.

Stress

Increased stress levels are one of the major reasons for relapse in addiction. Notably, people undergoing substance abuse treatment are more sensitive to stress when compared to the average population. Stress can be seen through emotions (sadness, fear, anger) or physical stressors (pain or a social event). 

People

Peer pressure is a compelling driving factor in human behavior. Being around people that support substance use or remind a person about past substance use can, in one way or the other, lead to a relapse. 

Places

Along with stress and risks, environmental cues are one of the top reasons for addiction relapse. Being in an environment where substance use is readily available can make substance addiction treatment much harder. 

How to Deal with Addiction Relapse?

Dealing with the reasons for relapse in addiction is possible with the right mindset. Here are some tips on how to deal with addiction relapse:

Seek Help

Most times, it isn't necessary to fight cravings alone. Try to seek professional help or support from family and friends. Most addiction treatment centers have expertise in dealing with the reasons for relapse in addiction treatment and managing substance abuse relapse risks. Professional help is the best way to deal with addiction relapse. 


Avoid Risks

Addiction relapse risks can range from stress and the environment to people related to initial substance use. Try as much as possible to avoid environments where substance use is easily accessible and away from any form of peer pressure. 


Also, manage stress through healthy coping mechanisms such as exercise, meditation, and productive hobbies. 

Join Support Groups

Support groups are essential because they give people a sense of belonging by interacting with people who have gone through a similar stage in life. Support groups also help people feel accountable for their recovery while spotting any signs that may lead to relapse through honest sharing and dialogue. 

Set Healthy Boundaries

Addiction recovery is a long road that requires certain levels of life changes. This requires being able to set healthy boundaries to avoid people, habits, and places that would invariably make having a relapse easier.


Engage in Self-Care

Proper self-care helps improve life outlook and make a recovery from addiction much more effortless. Self-care is made up of psychological, physical, and emotional care. By eating better, practicing proper hygiene, exercising, and developing into a healthier, happier person, self-care can help with avoiding a relapse. 

Reflect on The Relapse

Many people going through substance abuse treatment experience many stages of relapse throughout recovery. Still, it doesn't mean that treatment has been unsuccessful.


In every situation, reflect on the peculiar reasons for relapse in addiction you may have encountered and the specific addiction relapse risks that may have led to them. Doing this can help ensure the overall treatment is successful and prevent substance use relapse. 

Develop A Relapse Prevention Program

Personal relapse prevention programs can help reduce addiction relapse rates by using healthy coping strategies designed to prevent relapse during addiction treatment. This program could involve immediate professional intervention, a temporary change of location, or using hobbies to stand in as distractions from cravings.

Reasons For Relapse in Addiction

Treatment Programs for Addiction Relapse at San Diego Detox

Traditional treatment includes medical procedures, methods, theories, and practices that use medicines derived from plants, animals, and minerals, as well as spiritual therapies, manual therapies, and exercises. These methods may be used separately or in combination with orthodox medicine to treat, diagnose, or maintain health. 

Traditional treatment has been used in several forms of substance use addiction treatment and relapse prevention. These methods show certain levels of efficacy, but generally, patients who receive care from trained health care practitioners are less likely to have relapses when compared to those who don't receive the same type of care.7

Treatment Options After Addiction Relapse

There are several treatment options for addiction relapse, depending on the length of sobriety before a relapse and the current stage of the relapse. Primary treatment options after addiction relapse include:

  • Counseling: This applies to all patients going through a relapse and helps find the addiction relapse risks in their lives. Counseling at the San Diego Detox center helps every patient develop healthy coping strategies to avoid these risks and numb the effect of substance cravings. 
  • Pharmacotherapy: Drug cravings and withdrawal symptoms in certain patients may be too intense, predisposing them to substance use relapses. When administered by health care professionals, specific medication helps manage these cravings and symptoms to ensure recovery and addiction relapse prevention. 

Call San Diego Detox for Help

Relapses are quite common in the addiction treatment process. Here at San Diego Detox, we are experienced in preventing relapses during treatment. We also ensure that patients who have had a relapse are promptly cared for to avoid a complete decline back into addiction. Our health care experts use addiction treatment to prevent relapses while ensuring patient safety and comfort. No matter how long you've been sober if you have had a relapse, we are here to help.

For more information on the reasons for relapse in addiction, addiction relapse risks, and how to successfully overcome a relapse, please contact us at San Diego Detox today.  

Learn More About San Diego Detox

Our team is standing by to discuss your situation and options. Your call is fully confidential, and no obligation is required.

10 Most Common Reasons for Addiction Relapse

Read on to learn more about the ten most common reasons for relapse in addiction and how to seek treatment.

What Is Addiction Relapse?

A relapse is a common medical phenomenon during clinical therapy marked by treatment progress reversal. An example of a relapse is when a patient undergoing substance use disorder treatment who has been sober for a while then regressed back into substance use. Relapse could occur due to the cessation of medication therapy or because of intense cravings and drug-seeking behavior.1

Studies show that during addiction, specific changes are made to the brain due to persistent substance use. One of the hallmarks of addiction is how the dopamine receptors in the brain change, as addictive substances stimulate the production of dopamine excessively. After some time, receptors in the brain responsible for the coupling of dopamine in the brain become down-regulated due to excessive stimulation.2 

Goal of Addiction Treatment

Unfortunately, daily activities are generally insufficient to produce dopamine in levels compared to addictive substances, leading to intense cravings. Preventing addiction relapse is the primary goal of addiction treatment. Even after detoxification has been carried out, these intense cravings and withdrawal symptoms could make patients relapse. 

Reasons For Relapse in Addiction

Addiction Relapse Statistics

While the reasons for addiction relapse vary, studies show that about 40-60% of all patients going through substance use treatment eventually have a relapse.

Research also shows that one of the reasons for relapse is due to lack of proper treatment before gaining sobriety. People who received professional care during the process of detoxification and sobriety were less likely to relapse after three years of being sober.4

Relapse Risk Factors

The cravings associated with relapses tend to reduce the amount of time a person has been sober due to the ability of the brain to regenerate dopamine receptors. Patients who have been fully sober for over two years are less likely to relapse, and generally, relapses are worse in children and teenagers because their brains are still developing.5

It is worth noting that the reasons for relapse in addiction are plentiful, and a relapse doesn’t always signal treatment failure. However, it can help healthcare professionals readjust treatment procedures and tackle risks appropriately when relapses are caught in time. 

The Stages and Types of Addiction Relapse 

Healthcare experts can discover the reasons for relapse in addiction by finding out the exact stage of relapse the patient is going through. The cycle of addiction relapse occurs in several stages, which include:6

Emotional Relapse

In emotional relapse, the individual has not re-initiated substance use or thoughts about it because the effects are still generally fresh for them. However, the emotions built up in this phase tend to predispose them to higher levels of relapse as time progresses. 

Emotional relapse is commonly marked by patients being hungry, angry, lonely, and tired (HALT). The significant signs of emotional relapse include constant isolation, bottling up emotions, not going to meetings, deflecting emotions on others, and poor eating and sleeping habits.

Mental Relapse

This is the bargaining phase where individuals fight thoughts of wanting to engage in substance use and thoughts of wanting to continue sobriety. 

Common signs of mental relapse include bargaining, cravings, thoughts about people, places, and things associated with past substance use, minimizing consequences of past substance use or glamorizing past use, lying, thinking of ways to use, and planning a relapse.

Physical Relapse

This is the final stage of relapse and involves the physical re-engagement in substance use. Physical relapse can be divided into lapse and relapse. Lapse is the initial substance use, and relapse is the reengagement in controlled substance use. 

The initial stages of a physical relapse can occur spontaneously when the individual is overwhelmed due to the effects of mental relapse. It is highly essential to seek professional care as early as possible during relapse to prevent relapsing entirely. 

10 Most Common Reasons for Addiction Relapse

There are many reasons why someone might end up relapsing, but some of the most common reasons will be detailed below.

Withdrawal Symptoms

Substance abuse for a prolonged period may lead to withdrawal symptoms after discontinued substance use. These withdrawal symptoms vary in intensity and may be too much for some people leading to substance use relapse. Withdrawal syndrome is one of the significant reasons for relapses in addiction, primarily when detoxification is carried out without professional care. 

Mental Health Issues

Substance use and mental health disorders in some instances go hand in hand, with each condition being able to cause or worsen the prognosis of the other. Mental health issues such as depression or anxiety may make it harder for people to commit to a substance addiction plan, eventually leading to a relapse. 

Exposure to Risks

Risks are factors ranging from people, places, and objects associated with substance use behavior. One of the hallmarks of a relapse prevention program is the avoidance of these risks. 

This is because exposure to them can intensify substance cravings and initiate drug-seeking behavior, eventually leading to a relapse.  

Negative Emotions

Addiction treatment is a complex process and affects people differently. Overall, negative emotions such as a lack of motivation or a poor outlook on the entire treatment process can make relapses much easier. Addiction treatment can only be successful when patients are fully committed and motivated toward the process. 

Lack of Social Support

Humans are social creatures, and people going through addiction treatment need social support more than ever. Social support can come from friends and family or a support group, which is highly integral to preventing relapses. 

 

Poor Self-Care

Self-care through proper hygiene, good dieting, and exercising is integral to addiction recovery. Poor self-care can worsen negative emotions and lessen motivation. 

Low Self-Efficacy

Self-efficacy is a person’s belief in their strengths and ability to overcome a challenge. People with low self-efficacy are more likely to relapse when faced with substance abuse relapse risks.

Stress

Increased stress levels are one of the major reasons for relapse in addiction. Notably, people undergoing substance abuse treatment are more sensitive to stress when compared to the average population. Stress can be seen through emotions (sadness, fear, anger) or physical stressors (pain or a social event). 

People

Peer pressure is a compelling driving factor in human behavior. Being around people that support substance use or remind a person about past substance use can, in one way or the other, lead to a relapse. 

Places

Along with stress and risks, environmental cues are one of the top reasons for addiction relapse. Being in an environment where substance use is readily available can make substance addiction treatment much harder. 

How to Deal with Addiction Relapse?

Dealing with the reasons for relapse in addiction is possible with the right mindset. Here are some tips on how to deal with addiction relapse:

Seek Help

Most times, it isn’t necessary to fight cravings alone. Try to seek professional help or support from family and friends. Most addiction treatment centers have expertise in dealing with the reasons for relapse in addiction treatment and managing substance abuse relapse risks. Professional help is the best way to deal with addiction relapse. 

 

Avoid Risks

Addiction relapse risks can range from stress and the environment to people related to initial substance use. Try as much as possible to avoid environments where substance use is easily accessible and away from any form of peer pressure. 

Also, manage stress through healthy coping mechanisms such as exercise, meditation, and productive hobbies. 

Join Support Groups

Support groups are essential because they give people a sense of belonging by interacting with people who have gone through a similar stage in life. Support groups also help people feel accountable for their recovery while spotting any signs that may lead to relapse through honest sharing and dialogue. 

Set Healthy Boundaries

Addiction recovery is a long road that requires certain levels of life changes. This requires being able to set healthy boundaries to avoid people, habits, and places that would invariably make having a relapse easier.

 

Engage in Self-Care

Proper self-care helps improve life outlook and make a recovery from addiction much more effortless. Self-care is made up of psychological, physical, and emotional care. By eating better, practicing proper hygiene, exercising, and developing into a healthier, happier person, self-care can help with avoiding a relapse. 

Reflect on The Relapse

Many people going through substance abuse treatment experience many stages of relapse throughout recovery. Still, it doesn’t mean that treatment has been unsuccessful.

In every situation, reflect on the peculiar reasons for relapse in addiction you may have encountered and the specific addiction relapse risks that may have led to them. Doing this can help ensure the overall treatment is successful and prevent substance use relapse. 

Develop A Relapse Prevention Program

Personal relapse prevention programs can help reduce addiction relapse rates by using healthy coping strategies designed to prevent relapse during addiction treatment. This program could involve immediate professional intervention, a temporary change of location, or using hobbies to stand in as distractions from cravings.

Reasons For Relapse in Addiction

Treatment Programs for Addiction Relapse at San Diego Detox

Traditional treatment includes medical procedures, methods, theories, and practices that use medicines derived from plants, animals, and minerals, as well as spiritual therapies, manual therapies, and exercises. These methods may be used separately or in combination with orthodox medicine to treat, diagnose, or maintain health. 

 

Traditional treatment has been used in several forms of substance use addiction treatment and relapse prevention. These methods show certain levels of efficacy, but generally, patients who receive care from trained health care practitioners are less likely to have relapses when compared to those who don’t receive the same type of care.7

 

Treatment Options After Addiction Relapse

There are several treatment options for addiction relapse, depending on the length of sobriety before a relapse and the current stage of the relapse. Primary treatment options after addiction relapse include:

  • Counseling: This applies to all patients going through a relapse and helps find the addiction relapse risks in their lives. Counseling at the San Diego Detox center helps every patient develop healthy coping strategies to avoid these risks and numb the effect of substance cravings. 
  • Pharmacotherapy: Drug cravings and withdrawal symptoms in certain patients may be too intense, predisposing them to substance use relapses. When administered by health care professionals, specific medication helps manage these cravings and symptoms to ensure recovery and addiction relapse prevention. 

Call San Diego Detox for Help

Relapses are quite common in the addiction treatment process. Here at San Diego Detox, we are experienced in preventing relapses during treatment. We also ensure that patients who have had a relapse are promptly cared for to avoid a complete decline back into addiction. Our health care experts use addiction treatment to prevent relapses while ensuring patient safety and comfort. No matter how long you’ve been sober if you have had a relapse, we are here to help.

For more information on the reasons for relapse in addiction, addiction relapse risks, and how to successfully overcome a relapse, please contact us at San Diego Detox today.  

Learn More About San Diego Detox

Our team is standing by to discuss your situation and options. Your call is fully confidential, and no obligation is required.

Resources

  1. 1https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/relapse
  2. 2https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2948245/
  3. 3https://nida.nih.gov/publications/drugs-brains-behavior-science-addiction/treatment-recovery
  4. 4https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1976118/
  5. 5https://www.webmd.com/mental-health/addiction/addiction-what-to-know-about-relapse
  6. 6https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4553654/
  7. 7https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3252219/#:~:text=Traditional%20medicine%20refers%20to%20health,illnesses%20or%20maintain%20well%2Dbeing