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Alcohol Relapse

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Times that an Average Person Relapse

Rehab is critical to their recovery from alcohol addiction, but there are still plenty of challenges and obstacles to face along the way. But even though addiction recovery is a lifelong journey, there are ways to support them and make the process a whole lot easier.

Navigation: What is Alcohol Addiction?, How Many Times Does the Average Person Relapse?, Why is Relapse so Common for People with Alcohol Use Disorder?, How to Avoid Relapse and Maintain Sobriety, What to Do After a Relapse


Most people who have gone through addiction treatment for a substance use disorder (SUD) will experience a slip, a lapse, or sometimes even a full-blown relapse. This is not uncommon when it comes to the addiction recovery process. Even if you have recently gone sober for alcohol abuse or drug abuse, a relapse is always a possibility.

This is because addiction itself is a chronic medical condition. People in active recovery are in a state of remission wherein they are no longer experiencing the symptoms of addiction. When these symptoms return, it is called a relapse.

It is important to keep in mind that relapse is not a sign of weakness nor is it an indication of failure. Relapse occurs for a number of reasons, and it happens very often. This does not mean all hope is lost. It only means there is more work to be done. You can even take it as an opportunity to reinforce the coping skills you learned in rehab. All you have to do is strengthen your resolve to work on your long term sobriety.


What is Alcohol Addiction?

To understand the concept of relapse, we need to talk about the condition that leads up to it.

Alcohol addiction, also known as alcoholism, is a chronic disease characterized by a strong urge to consume alcohol despite its negative consequences. Alcohol addiction is also referred to as alcohol use disorder (AUD), which is a progressive condition that affects a person’s ability to control their drinking habits. This causes them to drink more than they intended or desired.

The addiction may cause physical and psychological dependence, leading to withdrawal symptoms when alcohol consumption is reduced or stopped. Alcohol addiction can cause serious health problems, affect personal relationships, and have a negative impact on a person’s work, finances, and social life.

An addicted person will keep drinking even when they are already suffering from the health effects of alcohol. They will neglect their responsibilities and lose interest in things they used to enjoy. Even their relationships with other people may suffer. The addicted individual will prioritize alcohol over everything else.

Keep in mind that any type of addiction can cause a relapse. This includes drug addiction and other substance use disorders.

As a chronic disorder, there is no cure for addiction. However, it can be treated properly and addicted people can get sober again. Because it is a chronic condition, there is always a risk of relapse no matter how long a person has remained sober. This means the person needs to actively work on maintaining their sobriety for the long term using the coping skills they learned in rehab.

It is normal to have feelings of shame, regret, and frustration after a relapse. Loved ones should continue providing emotional support when their family member relapses. You need to help them find their way back to the sober path. Encourage them to contact their physician, therapist, or sponsor as soon as possible.


How Many Times Does the Average Person Relapse?

Relapsing is a common experience for many individuals who struggle with addictive behaviors, mental health conditions, or chronic illnesses. It is often part of the recovery process and is not indicative of failure or weakness.

In fact, relapsing can be viewed as an opportunity for growth, learning, and improved treatment plans. It is important for individuals to seek support and continue working towards their goals.

Studies show that between 40% and 60% of people in recovery inevitably relapse. There is a higher probability of relapse for those who are only one year into their sobriety. Up to 85% of people who leave rehab relapse within their first year.

The longer you stay abstinent, the lower your risk of relapsing. Staying sober after rehab for at least five years is a good way to increase your chances of staying sober for good.

Addiction relapse rates aside, the average number of relapses for people in addiction recovery vary depending on the substance and individual circumstances. However, it is commonly estimated that the majority of individuals will experience at least one relapse in their journey towards sustained recovery.

Despite the possibility of slipping back into old habits, not everyone actually relapses. It’s just important to stay on guard.

After completing a treatment program and leaving rehab, it’s normal to think that the journey is complete. But your rehab facility will most likely inform you about continuing care and support group meetings. This is a part of aftercare: the process that comes after rehab which is designed to keep the patient sober for the long term. Most rehab programs include aftercare planning.

Successful management of recovery is important for the person’s continued sobriety. Through aftercare, they can slowly apply everything they learned during rehab.

Why is Relapse so Common for People with Alcohol Use Disorder?

There are plenty of reasons why relapse occurs. Understanding these underlying issues can help you prevent future relapses.

Just the complexity of the condition leads to high relapse rates because people don’t realize that substance use disorders are chronic, meaning they can recur over time. These conditions often require ongoing management and treatment to maintain recovery.

However, some people underestimate the severity of their condition. They think they can manage their condition on their own without seeking treatment or support. This can significantly increase the risk of relapse.

Other than that, people usually relapse because they encounter their triggers in the real world. Rehab is a safe environment where people can focus on their recovery, but eventually they have to face the challenges of real life again. People may experience stressors or triggers that cause them to relapse. There are many possible triggers out there including stress, relationship problems, social pressure, or exposure to substances. It’s different for everyone.

It is also common for people with a substance use disorder to have co-occurring mental health issues like anxiety, depression, bipolar disorder, etc. If these mental health conditions are not addressed along with the addiction, it can lead to relapse. These co-occurring conditions can make it difficult to maintain recovery, which is why both conditions need to be treated simultaneously.

When addiction co-occurs with a mental health disorder, this is called a dual diagnosis. Some rehab facilities specialize in dual diagnosis treatment.

How to Avoid Relapse and Maintain Sobriety

Relapse is a common thing, but it’s not inevitable. As such, there are plenty of ways to avoid it.

For starters, you should avoid high-risk situations and triggers. If you know certain people, places or situations trigger cravings, stay away from them. People relapse because of stress, anxiety, negative emotions, boredom, lack of motivation, and undiagnosed mental illnesses. If you can avoid these things, you can significantly reduce your likelihood of relapse.

People who experience high levels of stress and anxiety may relapse to cope with the pressure. At the same time, those who live in a toxic home environment or stay in a highly-stressful work environment are at risk of relapse. Their constant exposure to negative emotions may push them into drinking alcohol again.

When dealing with the threat of relapse, it is important to seek support. Contact your therapist, support group or a peer mentor. Talking about your struggles with others can help you stay accountable and provide you with the emotional support you need to avoid relapse. Surround yourself with people who support your sobriety and who you feel comfortable talking to when you need help.

During rehab, you will be taught various coping mechanisms. It is important that you take these seriously and start practicing them in your daily life. Instead of turning to drugs or alcohol to cope with stress or emotions, find other ways to manage your cravings. You can try exercise, meditation, deep breathing, yoga, etc.

Aside from that, you should also make sure you are taking care of yourself. Maintain a healthy lifestyle. Exercise regularly, eat well and get enough sleep. A healthy body can help support a healthy mind.

Here are other effective ways to avoid relapse:

Keep a journal. Write about your emotions and thoughts. This can help you understand your triggers and find new ways to manage them.

Celebrate your successes and focus on the positives. Reward yourself for reaching milestones, no matter how small. Celebrate your sobriety and focus on what you have accomplished.

Remember why you stopped using. Remind yourself of the reasons why you chose to stop using drugs or alcohol and how your life has improved since then.

Don’t be afraid to ask for help. If you are feeling overwhelmed, reach out to someone for support.

Stay active in recovery. Attend support groups, therapy sessions, and participate in activities that help you stay connected to your recovery community.

Maintaining your sobriety is all about recognizing and avoiding triggers. It’s also about taking care of yourself to give your mind and body the best chances of staying sober. Build a support network, learn healthy coping skills, and avoid triggers. You can even attend a 12-step support group so you can work on your long term recovery with other people.

You do not have to live in fear of relapse. Focus on your goals and remember why you decided to pursue sobriety in the first place.

What to Do After a Relapse

If you do go through a relapse, don’t lose hope. There are still things you can do to get closer to long term sobriety.

First, stay positive. Just reread your recovery plan and make necessary revisions. It’s important that you surround yourself with people you trust during this time. They can give you the emotional support you need to get through this obstacle. Maintain an optimistic attitude.

After a relapse, it’s important to take steps to get back on track and regain control. Here are some other steps you can follow:

Reflect on the causes of the relapse and identify any triggers.

Reach out to supportive friends or a therapist for help and accountability.

Make a plan to avoid similar situations or triggers in the future.

Forgive yourself and focus on moving forward, rather than dwelling on the past.

Consider adjusting your treatment plan, if necessary, to better address any underlying issues.

Remember that relapse is a common part of recovery and should not be seen as a failure. The important thing is to stay motivated and keep working towards your goals.

If you just had a minor lapse or a slip up, you do not have to go through a full-blown relapse. Some people have a perfectionist attitude when it comes to recovery that the moment they slip up, they think it’s hopeless. But even with minor lapses, you can still avoid relapse.

If you go through a full-blown relapse and your addiction symptoms return, resume your individual or group therapy. This may mean there are other underlying issues, stressors, or triggers that you still need to learn how to deal with and address without turning to alcohol or drugs. Some rehab centers specialize in relapse prevention skills and they can teach you how to stick with your sobriety plan.

Although relapses are very common, it is not necessary to make it part of your personal recovery journey. 

If you are still struggling, look for an addiction treatment center near you today and continue working on your long term recovery.


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 or alcohol 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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