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5 Common Reasons Why Addicts Relapse

Did you know that between 40-60% of people who are in recovery for addiction end up relapsing at some point? Because of how commonly relapse happens to a person in recovery for a substance use disorder, many treatment programs offer help specifically for this situation. Several factors can contribute to why addicts relapse, making it important to learn what the potential triggers can be in order to avoid a relapse. If a person has already relapsed, understanding what contributed to it can help them get back into recovery and stay there. Here are five common reasons why addicts relapse:

1. Difficulty Dealing With Withdrawal Symptoms

Most people who enter the detox phase of trying to recover from addiction experience withdrawal symptoms. People who attempt to detox at home typically cannot withstand the withdrawal symptoms and end up relapsing, often before completing their detox process. Some withdrawal symptoms can last for weeks or months after detoxing, making it imperative to seek professional treatment to help manage them. 

Medication-assisted treatment can be provided during the initial stages of recovery. This involves the use of FDA-approved medications combined with therapy in order to help control and lessen the impact of any withdrawal symptoms. When a person uses this approach, they may increase their odds of avoiding relapse. 

2. Why Addicts Relapse: Toxic Relationships

A person who has lost themselves in the world of addiction usually has at least one relationship in their lives that can be defined as toxic. It may be a spouse or other romantic partner, a friend, or a family member. When a person enters recovery from addiction, their lives change dramatically. They benefit from taking a look at all of their relationships and determining if any of them prove toxic.

One big reason why addicts relapse is because they allow toxic people to stay in their lives. The toxicity may be due to the loved one struggling with their own addiction. As much as it can feel difficult to part ways with someone, at least temporarily, sometimes it’s necessary in order to stay sober. Someone who is still drinking or using drugs can easily tempt the person in recovery to use a substance again, even cajoling them to do it “just once”. This can quickly lead to a full-blown relapse. 

Toxic relationships can also come in the form of someone not being supportive of the other person’s attempt at staying sober. It’s important for a person in recovery to surround themselves with positive people who support their goals and dreams, both those that are general and those that are sobriety-specific. 

3. Co-Occurring Mental Illness

Approximately half of all people who have a substance use disorder also have at least one diagnosable mental illness. The two conditions can feed off each other. Seeking treatment solely for addiction while mental health issues like anxiety, depression, PTSD, ADHD, and bipolar disorder remain untreated can increase the odds of relapsing. 

Treatment programs often provide professional help for both addiction and mental health conditions. When a person learns how to manage their mental health better, the temptation to relapse often decreases. This is because many people use drugs or alcohol to alleviate uncontrolled mental health side effects such as feeling depressed or anxious. 

In addition, the usage of some substances increases mental health symptoms. For example, alcohol is a depressant, which means abuse of it can contribute to depression. Similarly, the use of stimulants like Adderall and cocaine can increase symptoms of anxiety and panic. Addressing co-occurring mental illnesses while receiving treatment for addiction helps reduce the chances someone will end up relapsing. 

4. Why Addicts Relapse: Leaving Treatment Too Early

Often the reason why addicts relapse has to do with leaving treatment too early. The recovery process is an ongoing event and happens in more than one stage. It typically begins with detox and either a residential or an outpatient program. Too often, people believe they have a handle on their sobriety soon after the initial stage of treatment ends, and they try to go it alone. 

Choosing from several different outpatient programs can help keep a person from relapsing. Programs range from requiring just a few hours a week to several days each week. Sober living houses provide another option to help a person bridge the gap between their initial treatment and when they are ready to enter an aftercare program. Taking advantage of multiple types of treatment as a person moves through the recovery process offers the best chance of avoiding the pitfalls of relapse. 

5. Why Addicts Relapse: Not Making Self-Care a Priority

Another common reason why addicts relapse is because while they may attend therapy appointments or support groups, they do not also include self-care as a regular part of their routines. Self-care can be done in several ways, many of them part of holistic treatments. Holistic care centers on healing the person not just physically, but emotionally and spiritually, too. Ways to engage in self-care include:

  • Yoga
  • Meditation
  • Breathwork
  • Good nutrition
  • Acupuncture
  • Art therapy
  • Music therapy
  • Equine therapy
  • Aromatherapy
  • Reiki

Addiciton Treatment in Los Angeles, CA

Deciding to get help for an addiction to drugs or alcohol takes bravery, but it’s just the first step. Staying in recovery proves difficult for many, which is why so many people end up relapsing. If you are struggling with common reasons why addicts relapse, it’s important to seek help quickly. We understand how to treat relapse and get you back in the driver’s seat. Contact Riviera Recovery to find out how our pet-friendly sober living houses can help young adults find their way back to sobriety after a relapse. 

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