Drug and Alcohol Relapse Prevention FAQs
Before getting into how to prevent a relapse from occurring, let’s go through some of the most frequently asked questions about relapse itself that haven’t been touched on yet. Below are some common frequently asked questions, do see yours? Call or Chat with us, or even check out our Forum.
What Are the Warning Signs of Relapse?
Oftentimes, the progression of a relapse transpires before you even touch alcohol or a drug again, so an important part of deterring relapse is knowing how to identify early warning signals and potential risks. When you notice these developments, you can then take appropriate measures to stay on the path of sobriety.
Key warning signs and behavioral issues to look out for during recovery include:
- Visiting places where you’ve used substances, and spending time with individuals you used with
- Separating yourself from support groups or professionals, including skipping or dropping out of therapy appointments
- Recurring thoughts about using drugs or alcohol
- Overconfidence, or feeling as though you no longer need support
- Relationship problems
- Feeling depressed, confused, anxious, stressed or overwhelmed
- Changes in sleeping, eating and personal hygiene habits
- Serious life changes resulting in major emotions such as grief or trauma, due to the death of a loved one or a tragic accident
- Physical discomfort or illness (especially chronic pain)
- Neglecting to handle personal issues correlated with everyday life situations
- Substituting substances with other addictive behaviors like gambling or disordered eating
- Telling yourself “just one more time” won’t kill you
Which Drugs Have the Highest Relapse Rates?
Relapse rates for individuals struggling with opiate and heroin addictions remain at approximately 90 to 97 percent, whereas methamphetamine relapse occurs at a rate of 88 percent. The relapse rate for alcohol is also relatively high, with around 90 percent of alcoholics relapsing within four years.
No matter which substance is involved, research supports the notion that the longer you stay sober, the more likely you are to stay on track. While studies indicate that only about one-third of people who remain sober for less than a year will remain abstinent, those who do remain sober beyond the first year are far less likely to relapse.
Even better, those who remain abstinent for five years have a relapse rate of less than 15 percent. Keep in mind that people who suffer from full-blown addiction will often relapse at least once before eventually achieving long-term sobriety. The important thing is to not give up hope and to “try, try again” if a relapse happens during your recovery attempt.
What Are the Dangers of Relapse?
The risk of an accidental overdose is at its worst during relapse due to the impact of abstinence on a person’s tolerance. As a regular user, an individual feels the need to take higher doses of the drug to achieve the desired effect. But after even a short period of sobriety, his or her tolerance to a drug will decrease drastically.
Individuals who relapse may try to ingest the same dose they used to take during the height of their addiction, which can shock the body and result in a loss of consciousness, coma or even death.
How Often Do Users Relapse?
Studies estimate that between 40 and 60 percent of individuals who have been treated for addiction will relapse within a year of undergoing treatment. Even though relapse is most common during early recovery, people who are sober for several years can fall back into using substances, as well. The best odds of long-term recovery involve staying in treatment beyond the standard 30-day program.