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February 22, 2023

How to Navigate Relapse and Continue With Your Recovery Journey

Experiencing relapse can be incredibly emotional and hard to recover from, especially if this is your first time. Unfortunately, relapse is a common stage of recovery that a majority of addicts experience at least once in their life but it does not mean your sobriety is ruined or that you need to start from ground zero. Here, we'll walk you through how to navigate relapse and continue on your recovery journey.

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February 22, 2023

How to Move Forward From Relapse

No matter how committed you are to lifelong sobriety or meticulously following your recovery, there’s always a chance of relapse at some point. The National Institute on Drug Abuse states that 40% to 60% of recovery relapse. This is not a time for regrets or to entertain feelings of shame. Relapse is so common that it is considered a stage in lifelong recovery.

You should not give up the fight or give in to your addiction but continue working hard and conquering the desire to use. Instead, take the relapse as a lesson to enable you to identify your triggers and develop a relapse prevention plan.

Factors that Contribute to a Relapse

People who relapse in particular face situations months, weeks, or days before they relapse. These situations come as difficult experiences or feelings that test their ability to manage their addictions without alcohol or drugs.

Common Relapse Risk Factors Include:

Exposure to triggers

This includes environmental and social signs that remind you of alcohol and drugs. Social signs include seeing a friend who uses or is a drug peddler, while environmental signs include smells, objects, and places that you relate to alcohol and drugs. These can generate intense cravings that can cause a relapse.


When you experience highly stressful situations and have poor coping skills, it is easy to turn to alcohol and drugs for solace. Going through negative emotions like depression, anxiety, anger, and boredom can increase the chances of a relapse. Particularly, marital stress and work have been proven to cause relapse.

Relational Problems

Family conflicts or disagreements with friends can cause negative feelings, such as frustration, sadness, and anger. If you do not appropriately manage these emotions, you may relapse. Conflicts with close relations are involved in more than half of all relapses.

Peer Pressure

Living or associating with friends or family members who use alcohol or drugs is dangerous for recovery. Even being around people using drugs in, for example, a party can reignite the urge and put you at risk of relapsing.

Severe Pain Due to Illness or Accidents

Often, your doctor will prescribe pain medication when you are in severe pain after an accident or due to illness. Sometimes, the medication is not as effective. You may be tempted to look for narcotics or strong painkillers to alleviate the pain in such a case. It is safe to take pain medication without medical supervision for people who have never had a drug addiction. However, for someone with a history of addiction, you need supervision by a medical professional as opioids as just as addictive as alcohol and drugs.

Positive Moods

Positive moods, like negative moods, are also risk factors for relapse. When you are thrilled, it is normal to want to enhance the feeling with alcohol and drugs. Celebrations, such as birthdays, weddings, anniversaries, and graduation parties, can also cause a relapse since most of them include taking alcohol.

Low Self-Efficacy

Confidence in your potential to succeed is what self-efficacy is all about. If your self-efficacy in your ability to stay sober is low, you are at a higher risk of relapsing. Thus, you should have confidence and believe that you will overcome your addiction.

What Should You Do if You Relapse?

Whether you have relapsed for the first time in your recovery journey, or many times, it is essential to know what you should do if you relapse. Remember that you should not be ashamed because of relapse, and you can and will recover. If you or a loved one relapses, take the following actions:

Ask For Help

Seek support from friends and family. It is good to surround yourself with positive inspirations to remind you that they care. Sober friends will also help guide and advise on ways to recover from a relapse.

Look For a Self-help Group

A self-help group, such as Narcotics Anonymous or Alcoholics Anonymous and facilities such as Hollywood Hills Recovery can provide a non-judgmental environment to talk about your situation. You will also learn how other people have dealt with relapses in the past. Such groups or facilities have daily meetings so that you will find one within 24 hours of relapse.

Stay Away From Triggers

If you still visit the places you used to visit when taking alcohol or drugs or keep the same friends, you will have increased cravings for drugs. You should, therefore, stay away from triggers as much as you can, including things, places, and people who remind you of drug abuse. If you cannot avoid some triggers, reduce your contact with it immediately after relapse or until you are confident that you can cope without using.


Protect your physical and emotional health after a relapse. Self-care helps in relapse recovery by reducing stress and tension. Engage in activities that bring pleasure and do not cause harm, such as eating healthy foods, journaling, reading, exercising, meditation, and yoga.

Get Help Today

If you have undergone drug or alcohol abuse treatment and struggle with the reality or possibility of relapse, we are here to help. Hollywood Hills Recovery has several treatment programs that help patients attain sustained sobriety. Do not give in to addiction by allowing a relapse to take you back to a cycle of drug or alcohol abuse.

It is essential to maintain a positive mindset after a relapse. Take the relapse as a learning experience and do not dwell on the feelings of disappointment, shame or guilt. You can get back on track by understanding the events leading to the relapse and reducing the chances of future relapses.

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