Recovering from substance use disorder (SUD) is a process; setbacks can happen even with relapse prevention strategies. Families with loved ones recovering from SUD might worry that they will return to old behaviors if they experience high-stress levels. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), “Relapse rates for drug use are similar to rates for other chronic medical illnesses.” NIDA shows that, though it’s not ideal, relapse is a natural part of SUD.

Newport Beach Recovery Center provides alumni and family support services, referrals, and other resources to help individuals and their families during recovery. We also encourage alumni to return for treatment if they experience emotional or mental relapse. Our team can help you avoid a physical relapse by giving you the support you need to get through a difficult time.

Dangers of Relapse During Aftercare

Individuals transitioning from treatment to aftercare have to cope with many changes in a very short time. For some people, this can trigger intense cravings and intrusive thoughts about abusing substances. Relapse is different for everyone. However, it usually starts slowly and begins with a return of maladaptive thought patterns.

The dangers of relapse include:

  • Illness, injury, or death
  • Increased symptoms
  • Higher risk of developing co-occurring mental health disorders
  • Damage to personal and professional relationships
  • Legal or financial difficulties

Relapse often takes the form of repeated instances of substance abuse. After even a short period of abstinence, your body may no longer be capable of withstanding the same level of substance potency. Individuals who relapse during aftercare have a very high risk of accidental overdose.

Warning Signs of Relapse

Relapse usually takes place gradually as a person slowly disconnects from their recovery. Stress and unaddressed ambivalence can contribute to the sense of futility some people experience during early recovery. Rehabilitation is not easy. The process requires dedication, hard work, and a desire to change. If you feel like nothing matters and have difficulty motivating yourself, then you may be experiencing a mental relapse. The following are potential warning signs:

  • Loss of motivation
  • Increased symptoms of anxiety or depression
  • Decreased interest in aftercare, therapy, or group meetings
  • Missing multiple individual therapy sessions or support group meetings
  • Having difficulty coping with stress at home, work, or school

Everyone reacts differently to stress, and some people may not exhibit many outward signs of potential relapse. Instead, they may feel internally disconnected from the recovery process, isolated from others, or emotionally overwhelmed. You can decrease the risk of relapse by looking for possible warning signs and then taking action.

4 Ways to Decrease the Risk of Relapse

Rehabilitation gives you the necessary tools to prevent or cope with potential relapse. Following your aftercare plan, maintaining positive mental health, and taking advantage of your resources will make it easier to avoid slipping back into maladaptive behaviors. You can take steps to decrease your risk of relapse during your aftercare and ongoing recovery by following the steps listed below.

#1 Regularly Attend Therapy and Support Group Meetings

An active and strong support system that you can rely on during moments of high stress will help you maintain emotional stability. Individual therapy sessions and support group meetings will ensure you have the resources to remain sober even if you experience severe cravings or intrusive thoughts. Both of these tools will decrease the likelihood of relapsing.

#2 Work With a Mentor or Sponsor to Maintain Sobriety

Peer support is an essential part of the recovery process for many people. A mentor or sponsor can do the following:

  • Offer relevant advice and suggestions about overcoming challenges related to recovery
  • Provide compassionate support
  • Ensure you use your resources when you need them
  • Hold you accountable for your sobriety and recovery choices

The relationship will offer you support from a person who truly understands your experiences.

#3 Use Breathing Techniques to Lower Stress

Consciously controlling your breathing can lower your heart rate, relax tense muscles, decrease stress, and help you maintain mindfulness. Deep breathing can improve your overall health and wellness. Many free apps and websites provide breathing exercises you can do when you feel overwhelmed or anxious.

#4 Make New Routines After Treatment

Returning to old social routines can bring you back to a mental space that triggers cravings and intrusive thoughts. Making new routines will allow you to embrace a healthier lifestyle and meet new people with similar goals. Additionally, you may consider moving into a sober living home for extra support.

Take Advantage of Our Alumni Services

Alumni and their families can always reach out to Newport Beach Recovery Center if they have questions about how to cope with potential relapse. We also provide programs for individuals who would benefit from outpatient treatment to help them regain or maintain emotional stability after something triggers an emotional or mental relapse. You do not have to navigate recovery alone.

To avoid relapse, you need to know how to recognize signs of something being wrong. Before you leave treatment at Newport Beach Recovery Center, you will collaborate with our care team to create a relevant and comprehensive relapse prevention strategy to ensure you know what steps to take if you encounter challenges during long-term recovery. You do not have to struggle alone. If you find yourself slipping back into old patterns of thinking or behavior, you can reach out to your support system or our office to get back on track. We offer alumni services and family support to ensure everyone participating in treatment at Newport Beach Recovery Center has the tools they need to heal from SUD. We can guide you and your family through the recovery process. Learn more about our facility, treatment programs, and services by calling us today at (888) 850-0363.