Everything You Need To Know About Relapsing After Rehab

Relapse after rehab is, more often than not, part of the recovery journey for people living with addiction. For those still in treatment, this is a possible challenge they may face and get through in the future. A relapse can also be experienced by those who are already considered sober. 

Whether you or a loved one has been sober for a while or just beginning their treatment, it is essential to remember that a relapse, or facing the possibility of one, does not erase all your chances at recovery. What matters is how you manage these moments and use them to push you forward in your recovery journey.

Here are important things you need to know about relapsing post-rehab and how it affects your recovery. 

success rate of an addict
Source: The Owls Nest


What Is Relapse?

A relapse is when the person returns to the same level of substance that they were consuming before they became sober. There are different kinds of ‘lapses’. For example, for those abstaining from alcohol:

  • Slip: a sip of a drink
  • Lapse: spending an evening drinking
  • Relapse: regularly drinking again

Having these nuanced terms for relapse might seem unimportant, but they are useful in identifying the stage of ‘backsliding’ that a person may be experiencing.

How Does Relapse Start?

What is the process of relapse after rehab? Studies show that relapses happen gradually. A person in recovery starts their return to substance use weeks or even months before they retake the drug or alcohol. There are three categories of relapse signs:

  • Emotional Relapse: A person in recovery remembers feeling high or euphoric when using substances. They may not be consciously thinking about it, however. Individuals in this stage deny the possibility of relapse despite their thoughts and emotions about substance use.
  • Mental Relapse: This stage is characterized by a patient consciously thinking about using drugs or alcohol again. The person may feel worn down by the internal struggle they often experience in this state.
  • Physical Relapse: The recovering person returns to substance use. This stage is often divided into two sub-levels: lapse (initial drug use) and relapse (returning to uncontrolled use).

Identifying the red flags and signs for each phase and understanding what needs to be done are critical in preventing relapse.

what is the percentage of relapse for addicts?
Source: Pexels.com

What Is The Percentage Of Relapse For Addicts?

What is the percentage of relapse for addicts? Various surveys and studies reveal that more than 85% of individuals in active recovery from addiction return to substances within the year following their treatments. Research also estimates that more than 60% of recovering patients relapse within weeks of starting treatments for addiction.

These numbers look bleak, especially for someone experiencing addiction for the first time. Bear in mind that long-term plans are vital in preventing lapses. This means they are also important in staying substance-free in the long run.

What Is The Success Rate Of An Addict?

Based on a study published by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the National Institute on Drug Abuse in 2020,  3 out of 4 people who struggle with addiction will eventually recover. This means that the success rate of an addict is around 75%. To give you a more encouraging perspective, here are more statistics on the success of drug rehabilitation and recovery:

  • The Butler Center for Research at Hazelden Betty Ford Foundation reports that around 89 percent of those who complete alcohol rehab are still sober one month after discharge. Moreover, 76% of alcohol rehab patients who completed treatment report sobriety at three months;  69% remain sober at six months, and; an estimated 70%  are still sober at nine months.
  • Around 85%-95% of those who completed rehab remain abstinent nine months after discharge. 
  • An estimated 80% of people in recovery have been found to have an improved quality of life and overall health after completing their rehab treatments.
  • Roughly 43% of those undergoing rehabilitation complete their programs. On the other hand, 16% are transferred to other addiction centers for additional treatments.
  • Those who completed detoxification have a 68% rehab success rate.
  • Around 41% of patients who received medication-assisted treatment (MAT) for opioid detox completed treatment and achieved abstinence.
  • More than 65% of patients who were able to complete outpatient drug rehab programs have their treatment costs covered by Medicare, Medicaid, and other government-supported programs and sources.

All these numbers point to this: getting the right treatment for your substance use disorder significantly helps maintain long-term abstinence and sobriety.

does life get better after addiction treatment
Source: The Owls Nest

When Is Relapse Most Likely To Occur?

According to studies, relapse after rehab is most likely to occur within 90 days of abstinence. This is why treatment programs lasting at least three months are usually more beneficial. It is important to note that even after completing at least three months of treatment, it will still be possible to face the possibility of relapse. The next section will talk about some of the common triggers of relapse. 

What Is The Most Common Cause Of Relapse?

Recovery looks different for each person, and various factors can cause addiction and relapse. However, here are the common reasons why people return to their substance use. 

  • Wrong Or Insufficient Treatment

Mismatched treatment or not enough time in treatment can negatively impact your road to recovery. Rushing into your treatment is not beneficial, as this can leave out some issues that will remain unsolved. Additionally, not getting the right treatment to address the underlying causes of your addiction can also contribute to future relapse.

  • Stress

Stress will always be part of our lives. However, people recovering from addiction may be more likely to seek out substance use to cope. In moments of stress, memories of using alcohol and drugs may fit the need to seek out better experiences. Stressful situations create intense needs, putting people in recovery at a higher risk of returning to their destructive habits.

Life after addiction treatment
Source: Pexels.com
  • Routines

Routines provide structure in our day-to-day living. If a bad habit like substance use is not replaced with a beneficial activity, it creates a ‘void’ in a routine that needs to be filled. Structuring your daily routine with things that benefit your recovery will help prevent a relapse.  

  • Expectations

Setting unrealistic standards for your recovery is also a pitfall. Experiencing your progress toward recovery feels satisfying. Sometimes, this may compel you to do everything to get your life back on track in no time. Again, rushing into your recovery will only set you up for failure. Recovery needs time, as it is a process of learning and unlearning new and old things about yourself.

Understanding and managing these common factors can benefit and build your skills in preventing future relapses in your journey to recovery. 

What Should You Do After Relapsing?

If you have experienced a relapse after rehab. You may begin asking yourself, “What do you do now?” First, remember that a relapse is not the end nor the full picture of your recovery. You will feel disappointed, angry, or sad; these are valid reactions. However, your road to getting well does not stop there. Here are some helpful steps to take after relapsing.

  • Talk About Your Experience

It may be difficult initially, but talking about your experience with trusted people helps. Having conversations will help you process your difficult emotions. Talking about your relapse may help you find insights that will help your recovery. 

percentage of addiction  relapse
Source: The Owls Nest
  • Seek Professional Help

Whether you are already in treatment or not, a relapse is an opportunity to talk to a trained professional. Your specialist is trained to understand that recovery is not a straight line and it takes time. You might even be hesitant to reach out to your health personnel if you are already in active treatment. Remember that letting them know about your relapse will make it easier for them to assist you and address your concerns. 

  • Consider Treatment

Your relapse may be a sign to consider getting treatment if you are not enrolled in one. Relapse after rehab can also mean that you need to consider other treatment options apart from what you have or have completed. Again, talking to trained addiction specialists will always be helpful in finding the right path to your wellness.  

Again, recovery is a long and slow process. It is also not linear. Setbacks will happen, like anything in life. Most importantly, you are building yourself up to prevent future hurdles and overcome challenges that hinder you from experiencing life to the fullest.

Get The Best Post-rehab Support In Florence, South Carolina

Addiction is already a complex issue, and facing the possibility of relapse can aggravate how overwhelmed and frustrated we are. Getting the right help for you or your loved one will help ease these difficult feelings and put you in a better headspace for your recovery.

Here at The Owl’s Nest, we offer evidence-based practices and a dynamic approach to recovery from substance use disorder and other mental health problems to make the journey to recovery lighter and more pleasant. 

Complete recovery from addiction begins with you. Contact us at (843) 755-6354 or fill out our appointment form. You can also reach us via email at intake@owlsnestrecovery.com.

Help is available here at The Owl’s Nest.


J.P. Berame


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