Why Do So Many People Relapse After Drug Rehab?

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Why Do So Many People Relapse After Drug Rehab?

The few individuals in our country today who have not either struggled with addiction or had a loved one who has, may not understand why a relapse after drug rehab happens so often. In fact, many people don’t know how common it is for individuals to relapse after completing an addiction treatment program.

Furthermore, it is almost expected that the first try at recovery will end up with a relapse. This statement may seem discouraging to many people who are addicted to a substance. If you are thinking about attending an addiction treatment facility for help, don’t become discouraged.

Is a Relapse After Drug Rehab a Normal Part of Recovery?

Should individuals enrolled in an addiction treatment program be told that relapse after drug rehab is common? Or, is this just setting them up for failure? No person should leave a rehab program expecting a relapse to happen. People who complete their addiction treatment program should continue with an aftercare program once returning home. With the support of family and friends, they will find it easier to remain sober. Family support helps to refrain from turning back to places which might be triggers for their addiction.

Hanging out at bars and places where alcohol and drug use were common for them before rehab is a sure way to relapse early in recovery. Many individuals in recovery for the first time think that completing a treatment program saves them from doing drugs again. This is not the way it works. Recovery is a continuing process which must be worked on daily. Individuals in recovery must continue with their aftercare programs which will include attending support group meetings and counseling sessions.

Why Does Relapse Happen to Some and Not Others?

Every person is unique and handles situations in different ways. When first completing addiction treatment, individuals have a renewed outlook on life. They have a plan in place to eat healthy meals and exercise daily. They have been taught how to avoid triggers in their daily lives and how to handle difficulties and disappointments without returning to the use of drugs. However, some people relapse after drug rehab because they become too self-confident with their newfound sobriety.

When individuals become too comfortable with their new lifestyle is when they begin to neglect their continuing aftercare programs. The person may start skipping support group meetings or canceling counseling sessions thinking they have everything under control and don’t need this continued help. It is also possible that they stop seeing their new sober friends and start seeing old drug-using friends again thinking they can handle it. The biggest mistake is thinking they can handle just one drink or one hit of cocaine. This is a sure sign of a relapse in the making.

Telling Yourself You Can Use Drugs in Moderation

Regardless of what addicts have been taught in addiction rehab, that they can never use drugs again, many falsely believe that now they have their drug use under control and can use in moderation. They return to the friends and places where their addiction was at its worst. They may start with one drink, one opioid pill, or one line of cocaine building up to two or three and then more. Before they realize it, they have relapsed back into drug abuse.

They wonder how could this happen when they had everything under control? The fact is, they did not have everything or anything under control. Relapse after drug rehab is very common. Recovering from drug addiction is an ongoing process. Don’t be fooled into a sense of complacency and let your guard down for even one day. Sobriety is a day-t0-day endeavor which requires constant attention.

Remember, a Relapse Doesn’t Mean Failure!

It is always a good idea for individuals to start their newfound sobriety and recovery with a positive attitude. However, if a relapse after drug rehab does occur, it doesn’t mean that the recovering addict has failed and will never achieve sobriety. It may simply mean that they need more treatment. Maybe they left drug rehab before they were completely ready to face their new life on their own.

If a relapse happens, don’t give up on life in recovery. Pick yourself up and start over with more therapy and counseling sessions. Go back to the lessons learned in rehab. Avoid triggers such as places of drug use and drug-using friends. Surround yourself with people who encourage and promote your sobriety. Find activities which do not include drugs or alcohol. Attend more support meetings.

No, a relapse after drug rehab does not mean failure. No one does everything they attempt perfectly the first time. Remember this, and keep working for that better life that you know you can achieve. It will be worth all of the effort! If you or a loved one need help for drug or alcohol addiction, contact one of our informed representatives at A Forever Recovery. They can answer any questions you may have about treatment programs that can benefit your individual needs and preferences. Call today!


  • drugabuse.gov – Drugs, Brains, and Behavior: The Science of Addiction: Treatment and Recovery

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