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Going to Rehab the Second Time

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Drug Rehab for the Second Time

After leaving rehab for the first time, the goal is to manage the addiction successfully.

Will Drug Rehab Work the Second Time?, Why Does Relapse Happen, What Happens if I Relapse?, Why Do I Always Relapse?, When Do Most Relapses Occur?, Can You Prevent a Relapse?, What Drug Has the Highest Relapse Rate?, Rehab is Your Best Chance


It takes a lot of strength and determination to start a drug rehab program, especially considering how overwhelming addiction is. Anyone who decides to go into rehab to tackle their addiction is brave.

It is because of this tremendous effort that it becomes frustrating for many people in recovery when they go through a relapse. They may wonder if they made the right decision to begin treatment or if it is worth it to try again.

Today we will be discussing the effectiveness of drug rehab for those who are entering it the second time around.

The thing about rehab is that even if you relapse, it does not necessarily mean you are back to square one. Everything you have learned in rehab is still there—you just need a gentle reminder or a wakeup call to get you back on the right track.

Despite the feelings of shame and regret, relapse is not a sign of failure. It does not mean your journey to sobriety is over. In fact, relapse is a very common situation that can be considered a normal part of the addiction recovery process. So keep in mind that a relapse is not an indicator that treatment was not effective.

Will Drug Rehab Work the Second Time?

Some people think that once they step out of rehab, their journey to sobriety is complete. But addiction is a chronic condition. The National Institute on Drug Abuse or NIDA calls it a “relapsing disorder”. Just like other chronic conditions, there is no specific cure for addiction, but it can be treated. An addicted individual can live a long, healthy, and meaningful life by learning to keep their addiction under control. This is what rehab hopes to teach: maintaining long-term sobriety.

So when a person relapses, it is because their brain is still craving for the substances that they used to be addicted to. But someone who has been in rehab may be better equipped to handle the situation and resist these cravings. Their chances of relapse are lower compared to someone who has never been in rehab.

After leaving rehab for the first time, the goal is to manage the addiction successfully.

So to answer the question of whether or not drug rehab can work the second time: yes it can. It is designed to do so. Rehab caters to patients who relapse repeatedly. It is estimated that 40% to 60% of addicted individuals will inevitably relapse after treatment. But that said, not everyone who completes a rehab program relapses. It’s just that there is no reason to be so hard on yourself if you do relapse. You are not alone.

A relapse just means that you need to brush up on things you originally learned in treatment as well as learn more ways to maintain your sobriety. One thing is for sure, you don’t need to struggle with relapse on your own. Returning to treatment can help you get the support you need.


Why Does Relapse Happen

A relapse is when the person begins to return to their addictive behaviors. It is different from a lapse wherein the person just has one isolated incident where they engaged in drugs or alcohol with no intention of going back to their addictive behavior. It was a mistake or a slip-up.

With a lapse, the person may be able to get back on track on their own. But a relapse may last longer than your ordinary slip-up. It may involve a return to previous dosages, behavior, etc.

Relapse is a complex situation. It has something to do with the fact that addiction changes the way the brain functions, affecting the reward system and influencing a person’s self-control.

Aside from that, there are plenty of other reasons why a person may relapse. Some people in recovery do not make sobriety a priority. They think just because they have been to rehab that they won’t be affected by addiction anymore. They don’t attend 12-step meetings or go through therapy.

Some people don’t have a proper support system and so they struggle to keep drugs and alcohol away all by themselves. Some continue to surround themselves with people who enable their substance abuse.

Others are simply not prepared for life outside of rehab. This is why many rehab facilities offer sober living homes that serve as the transitional period between rehab and life outside of rehab.

Relapse can be caused by a number of factors. But regardless of the situation, a person needs a strong support system to shield them from substance abuse even in times when they feel like they can’t.

What Happens if I Relapse?

If a person relapses, they may begin to struggle with the same effects of addiction that they used to suffer from. The next step is to figure out whether or not you need to go back to rehab. Try to determine if the incident was just a lapse or a relapse. If you believe it was an isolated incident, maybe you don’t need to go back to treatment right away. Instead, you can keep practicing the coping mechanisms you learned in rehab the first time. Stick with your current recovery care plan.

But if it is an actual relapse, we recommend going back to rehab for your health and safety. You may have to revisit your recovery care plan and adjust it based on your current situation. Or you may need to go back to a strict treatment program to get you back on track.

Upon going back to rehab, your care plan will be adjusted to have a deeper focus on cognitive behavioral therapy or CBT. However, other forms of therapy may also be used.

Afterwards, you can go back to living a normal life and trying to apply everything you have learned in rehab.

Why Do I Always Relapse?

If you keep on relapsing, it may have something to do with the number of risk factors you are exposed to. Just like with addiction, some people are more likely to experience a relapse than others, and it is because of various risk factors.

Some of these risk factors are environmental, which means if you are in a toxic environment, you may be more likely to relapse. A person’s environment can either be supportive or stressful, and the latter can lead to relapse.

Mental health disorders that were not adequately addressed during treatment can increase a person’s risk of relapse.

The reason for relapse may vary from one person to another, and it may even be a combination of different factors. But even if you have relapsed multiple times, there is hope for long term sobriety. Do not give up on your health.

When Do Most Relapses Occur?

A relapse can happen to anyone at any time. And because of its unpredictable nature, it’s important to watch out for some of the warning signs that a person may have relapsed or about to relapse.

If your loved one is skipping their 12-step meetings, that is generally a bad sign. But if they are also displaying secretive behavior, they may already be going back to their old addictive habits. They may lie about what they are doing or who they are with.

They may stop prioritizing their health and recovery. They will also struggle with cravings a lot and constantly think about using.

There is no specific cure for addiction, but it can be treated. It’s all about teaching the addicted individual how to maintain their sobriety even outside of rehab and even if they don’t have medical professionals surrounding them.

In rehab, they will learn healthy ways to channel their energy. They will learn how to be creative and productive, so they can find activities they enjoy that do not involve harmful substances. They can also learn how to maintain stronger relationships with their friends and family. By building a stronger support network, the person in recovery can get the help that they need when they are struggling with cravings or relapse.

Can You Prevent a Relapse?

It is not uncommon for people to relapse at least once after leaving rehab—even when the treatment was effective. Some people even relapse multiple times before finally being able to conquer their addiction.

But it is also possible to prevent a relapse by avoiding situations that may trigger it. If you understand what might trigger you to relapse, you can prevent it entirely. Things like stress, negative emotions, social situations, and even people you don’t like may trigger a relapse. Being in situations where people drink or use drugs can lead to a relapse if you are not careful. When you recognize your triggers, you can actively avoid them.

If you do get cravings, try to distract yourself with other activities. Try healthy physical activities like exercise or meditation. Work on other things until the cravings pass.

What Drug Has the Highest Relapse Rate?

Anybody who is addicted to drugs or alcohol can relapse even after receiving treatment. The type of drug doesn’t matter that much. Relapse can happen to anyone, regardless of their drug of choice.

A lot of drugs will alter the brain’s reward function, causing the user to become addicted. When the person quits the substance, cravings set in and they relapse. But it is worth noting that opioids and alcohol have been shown to have the highest rates of relapse according to research. Some studies even indicate that the relapse rate for alcohol is at 80 percent during the first year after treatment. Stimulants and benzodiazepines are also known to have high relapse rates.

Perhaps the most dangerous thing about relapse is the fact that the person’s tolerance for their drug of choice will have gone down significantly during their stay in rehab. When they relapse and try to take as much of the drug as they used to, their body could not take it: this could lead to an overdose. Opioid relapse is dangerous because of the risk of overdose.

Look for the signs of opioid overdose in case someone you love relapses: pinpoint pupils, loss of consciousness, vomiting, grayish skin, pale or clammy face, and respiratory depression are signs of an overdose. Call 911 immediately if you see these signs. Try to wake the person and stay with them until medical help arrives.

Relapse rates go down significantly for each year that the person does not relapse.

Although there is currently no cure for this chronic condition, addiction can be treated. Relapse does not mean that the person failed or that the treatment did not work. It just means they need to work a bit harder on staying sober and applying the lessons that they learned from rehab.

If you or someone you love is dealing with addiction, look for an addiction treatment facility near you today. The road to recovery is long, but it is worth it. Contact a nearby rehab facility and ask about the programs they offer today.


Rehab is Your Best Chance

Treatment is an addicted individualʼs best option if they want to recover. Beating an addiction not only requires eliminating the physical dependence, but also addressing the behavioral factors that prevent them from wanting to get better. Simply quitting may not change the psychological aspect of addiction. Some people quit for a while, and then take drugs again, only to overdose because they did not detox properly. Recovery involves changing the way the patient feels, thinks, and behaves.

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Fel Clinical Director of Content
Felisa Laboro has been working with addiction and substance abuse businesses since early 2014. She has authored and published over 1,000 articles in the space. As a result of her work, over 1,500 people have been able to find treatment. She is passionate about helping people break free from alcohol or drug addiction and living a healthy life.

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