Understanding The Dangers of Relapse and How You Can Guard Against It

Dangers of Relapse

Relapse is a topic that we don’t like to talk about. It’s the thing that happens when you try to change your life and then go back to your old ways. 

When someone is in recovery, relapse is something that can happen at any time—even after years of being sober. But what exactly is relapse? How does it happen? And how can you guard against it? 

This article will explore these questions and more so that you can get a better handle on what relapse means and how it affects people trying to make positive changes in their lives.

Relapse is defined as the return to the use of a substance after an attempt at abstinence.

Relapse is defined as the return to the use of a substance after an attempt at abstinence. Relapse is a common part of recovery, and it’s important to understand the reasons for relapse. Some common reasons include:

  • Stress
  • Loss
  • Negative emotions like anger, depression, and anxiety 
  • Being around people who use

To help guard against reaching the final stage of relapse, physical use, try and adhere to the following 5 Rules of Recovery.

  1. Change your life

One of the biggest mistakes those entering recovery make is thinking it’s only about not drinking or not using drugs.  Recovery is about restructuring your life, otherwise, everything that caused you to turn to drugs or alcohol before will eventually lead you down that path again. Get help with changing your life and battling those triggers at a NYC drug rehab.

The following are some examples of where you make a change:

  • Find a new hobby or passion project to focus on. If you have nothing else going on in your life except for work and drinking or doing drugs, that leaves little else for your mind to do other than think about drinking or doing drugs and the stresses of work. 
  • Change the negative thinking patterns
  • Avoid the people, places, and things that were associated with your use
  • Make sure to incorporate the five rules of recovery.

Be completely Honest

Be honest with yourself. It’s hard to know what your triggers are if you’re not being totally honest with yourself about your addiction and how it affects your life, so start there. Is there something happening in your personal life or at work that could be adding stress to an already stressful situation?

Be honest with others. If you know someone who has also struggled with addiction, they may be able to give insight into what triggered their relapse or at least remind you of what not to do when dealing with it. 

Be honest with your doctors and therapists. They can help guide both the recovery process itself as well as how much risk each patient poses based on their history and current treatment plan 

Ask for Help

If you feel like you are in danger of relapsing, ask for help. There are many different people and places that can be a good source of support for you:

  • Friends and family: A close friend or family member can be there for advice when it comes to choosing healthy foods, keeping busy during recovery, and going through withdrawal symptoms. They could also help you stay sober by keeping their eyes on your behavior when they’re around so they can remind you if something isn’t normal.
  • Professional: A therapist or counselor may be the best person to speak with if it’s been a while since your last treatment session because they’ll know what steps should be taken next based on what has happened so far in recovery from substance abuse disorders such as alcohol use disorder (AUD). 
  • Twelve Step groups such as Narcotics Anonymous/Narcotics Anonymous Family Groups International; SMART Recovery; Rational Recovery Systems; LifeRing Secular Recovery Groups/LifeRing Secular Recovery International; Women for Sobriety Support Groups International; Al Anon Family Group Headquarters Inc.; Alateen Alcoholism Help for Teens – Children of Alcoholics Association International
  • Let a Rehab Center teach you the 10 Clinical Relapse Prevention Strategies

Practice Self-care

There are a variety of ways that you can practice self-care. Proper self-care is important, you can see that in the reasons why most people end up turning to drugs or alcohol. They use them to escape the negative feelings that life is throwing at them, to help them relax, or to reward themselves (trigger the reward centers of the brain).

There are much healthier alternatives to achieve all those things with self-care.

The first step is to recognize the importance of it in your life, which means understanding that you need to take care of yourself just as much as someone else does. Self-care does not mean selfishness; rather, it’s about setting aside time for things that make you feel good, such as reading a book or listening to music. 

Self-care might also involve making healthful food choices and getting enough sleep each night so you can feel energized the next day.

Self-care can also include activities such as exercising at least three times per week or meditating daily (more on these below). It could mean spending more time with loved ones who support and love you unconditionally—and making sure those people know how much they mean to you! 

Don’t Bend the Rules

People that ask for help from professionals and then ignore their advice are insisting on doing recovery their way. The rules are designed to turn denied users into non-users.

All people that enter early recovery are denied users, those that have not or cannot acknowledge the full extent of their addiction. The goal of the professionals is to set up rules that will help them move on to becoming non-users, or those that acknowledge their addiction and have decided that the use of drugs or alcohol is no longer fun and is damaging. 


It’s important for people who are in recovery to understand that relapse is not something that can be avoided fully avoided. Relapse happens in at least one stage. 

The best way to prevent relapses is by taking steps towards changing your life, staying honest with yourself and others, asking for help, and practicing self-care.

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