Drug Addiction Relapse Prevention

Find out more about substance abuse relapse, along with tailoring a drug addiction relapse prevention plan for your needs.

Understanding Relapse

The term “relapse” describes the process of resuming drug or alcohol use after a long break. Addiction often results in relapses for many people who have attempted to reach and maintain sobriety, due to how much it can alter the brain’s chemistry and ultimately affect our mood and behaviors accordingly.

Even after undergoing successful addiction treatment, the urges to relapse do not subside. This is why it’s important to exercise both compassion and understanding when it comes to addiction and relapse related matters.

Addiction Relapse Overview

According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, between 40-60% of patients with drug use disorders will experience relapse. This indicates that one may easily return to drug and alcohol use, just like how a person with heart disease or cancer may experience a relapse of symptoms having to do with their health condition as well.1

However, relapse does not mean that a person is doomed to relive their previous conditions of addiction. People can reintegrate into sobriety, even post-relapse, with the right support system and continuous effort and determination.

Stages of Relapse

The following are the common stages of relapse one might go through:

Common Causes of Relapse

It is essential to know specific causes that might result in a relapse, along with plans for how to potentially deal with that happening. The following are possible causes that might result in a relapse:2


One of the top causes of addiction relapse is stress. Many people who battle addiction resort to their preferred drug or pastime as a maladaptive coping mechanism. Studies show that people who use drugs, alcohol, or other addictive behaviors more often have heightened desires under stressful situations, especially if they use that behavior or substance as their primary coping mechanism.3


The ones who support a patient with addictive behavior might also cause a relapse. Even the family members could act as a cause, mainly if they make one feel more helpless and defenseless. The same is true for areas that conjure up memories of addiction for patients.

Overconfidence During Recovery

Although recovery is a never-ending process, some people start to believe that if they have overcome their condition that they no longer have to worry about “fully” relapsing. One may be tempted to take “just one” drink or hit, believing it won’t be a huge concern. While having a fair dose of self-confidence is crucial, self-awareness is also essential.

Physical or Mental Illness

Relapses in drug or alcohol use can be brought on by anxiety, panic, and other underlying psychological issues. The body is under stress from physical disease and discomfort, which increases the chance of relapsing. Prescription medications for physical and mental problems can affect consciousness and cause a relapse into addiction.

Relationships and Sex

There are various causes for why therapists advise not to go right into a new relationship during recovery. One is that starting new romantic relationships may increase your chance of relapsing. If one splits up with a new partner, one can turn to drugs again due to the stress.

How to Create Relapse Prevention Plan for Drug Addiction

There are many ways one can start the process for creating a relapse prevention plan. These include:

Relapse Prevention Skills

There are many prevention methods you can employ in order to help with a potential relapse before it even happens. Some of these include:

Get Professional Help at San Diego Detox Today

San Diego Detox’s goal is to assist those struggling with addiction to live extraordinary lives. We provide all-encompassing care for the complete person and are dedicated to improving addiction and mental health treatment’s effectiveness, efficiency, and affordability.

What Is a Relapse Prevention Plan?

A relapse prevention strategy can reduce the likelihood of drug recurrence by recognizing potential causes and coping methods. It can be a verbalized plan or a written plan.

What is Relapse Prevention?

Relapse prevention is a cognitive-behavioral method based on skills that enable patients and their physicians to recognize circumstances that increase the likelihood of relapse.

This plan will help patients to actively work against thoughts or feelings that may lead them to want to use substances again. This is mainly created for those that might have been struggling with addiction for a long time, or those that are still new to the recovery process.

Basic Principles of Relapse Prevention Plans

Creating a prevention plan is easy when you know the basic principles of how to create one. These include: