Moving forward after a relapse may mean returning to rehab. While this may feel like you’re moving backward in your recovery journey, it doesn’t mean that you’ve failed or that lasting sobriety isn’t possible.
Chronic Illnesses Are Characterized by Relapse
Addiction is a chronic illness—and chronic illnesses are characterized by relapse. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, the relapse rate for patients with substance use disorders is between 40% and 60%. Although this may seem like a very high number, it’s actually lower than what is found with two other chronic illnesses: hypertension and asthma. Patients with hypertension or asthma have a 50% to 70% relapse rate.
If your grandpa was showing signs of heart failure because he wasn’t able to control his hypertension via medication and diet, would you tell him to check out of the hospital and go home? If your best friend was having a severe asthma attack, would you throw away her inhaler and tell her she could breathe on her own if only had a little more willpower? Of course not! You’d tell your loved ones that this was just one small obstacle and that you’d support them in any way possible as they got the treatment they needed to start feeling better. Show yourself the same level of grace and compassion.
Issues That Can Lead to Relapse
Some common issues that can lead to relapse include:
- Cutting residential treatment short due to homesickness or financial concerns
- Hanging out around people, places, and things that you associate with your substance abuse
- Continuing to spend time socializing in places where a large number of people are drinking or using
- Skipping 12-Step or self-help group meetings
- Being complacent about your recovery
- Not having a plan for how to handle stress at work or at home
- Struggling to find a way to address chronic pain
- Ignoring the impact of co-occurring mental health disorders or past trauma on your recovery journey
- Thinking you’ll be fine if you drink or use “just this once”
- Having unrealistic expectations about what it means to be in recovery
Addiction & Chronic Illnesses
Sometimes, people who’ve relapsed know exactly what went wrong. They can look back at past events and see how they started losing focus or making poor decisions. Other times, the answer isn’t as obvious. This is because addiction treatment professionals believe there are three stages of relapse: emotional relapse, mental relapse, and physical relapse.
Often, people stay in the emotional and mental stages of relapse for quite some time. They’re not actively using, but they’ve returned to some of their previous self-destructive habits and are glamorizing their past substance abuse. They may be frustrated and secretly wondering if recovery is worth the effort.
When you’re not sure what led to your relapse, returning to rehab can help you objectively evaluate past behavior patterns and determine the best way to move forward. It’s a way of taking accountability for your actions instead of leaving yourself stuck in a victim mentality where you are blaming others for your struggles.
How Returning to Rehab Can Help You Get Back on Track
Because substance use disorders have both environmental and biological triggers, finding an effective treatment can involve some trial and error. A relapse means your current treatment plan wasn’t adequately addressing your needs, so a second stay in rehab will provide you with a chance to make the necessary adjustments.
Some examples of the types of changes that may be recommended after your initial assessment include:
- Trying medication-assisted treatment or adjusting your medication dosage
- Exploring different techniques in individual therapy and/or increasing your number of sessions per week
- Utilizing additional family services to strengthen your support system at home
- Adding different holistic therapies to your treatment program, such as massage and meditation, to help you deal with
ongoing issues related to chronic pain
- Working on creating a more comprehensive plan to deal with cravings
- Adding additional safeguards to promote accountability
- Having you take part in an intensive outpatient program (IOP) after residential treatment instead of jumping straight into independent living
- Taking advantage of various community-based resources as you transition back to independent living
If you’re returning to rehab for the second time, keep in mind that you don’t necessarily need to return to the same facility. If you feel as though the current members of your treatment team don’t have the skills and experience to meet your needs, a change may be in order.
We Can Help
At Waypoint Recovery Center, we work with clients who are returning to our South Carolina residential addiction treatment center for the second time as well as those who have previously attended another rehab facility. We don’t believe in shame or judgment—only in connecting our clients with the resources they need to build a brighter future. To learn more, contact our admissions representatives.