What Is Addiction Relapse?

Relapse occurs when an individual who has refrained from using an addictive substance uses that substance again. A relapse can manifest as a one-time occurrence (referred to as a lapse or slip), or it may manifest as a binge involving excessive amounts of the substance and/or continuous abuse.

No matter the circumstances, a relapse does not mean you can’t get back on track. However, it does usually mean there are problems that need to be addressed.

What Are Some Common Relapse Triggers?

Many factors may cause a drug or alcohol relapse. An effective relapse prevention plan identifies potential triggers and how to handle them adequately to sustain abstinence. Some of the most common factors leading to relapse are:

Mental Health Problems

Anxiety, depression, anger, frustration and boredom tend to produce negative thought patterns and can lead to relapse. Because many individuals use drugs to avoid having to deal with these negative moods or circumstances, unmanaged emotional and mental health problems are among the most prominent risk factors for relapse.

Social Influence

Social pressure can be more than just verbal, and may come from anyone you spend time around. While social influence might seem inoffensive (such as other people around you using substances but not pressuring you to take part), all social occasions that include alcohol or drugs increase the likelihood of a recovering addict suffering a relapse.

Parties and Special Events

Weddings, holidays, sports games, birthdays, anniversaries and graduations are typically joyful experiences, but these events can also involve alcohol or other substances – which can trigger a relapse. Since many individuals in recovery may have used drugs to celebrate in the past, it is crucial to be conscious of the risks you may encounter when attending celebratory events.

Personal Conflicts

Fights with family and friends or other distressing situations can ultimately result in self-medicating with drugs or alcohol.