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Why Do People Relapse When Life is Good?

A businessman with a bottle feels overwhelmed by his relapse.
A relapse can happen even when things are going well, but there are signs you can look for.

When your loved one is experiencing a relapse, it can bring up challenging feelings. You feel as though you did everything right: you helped them get into and complete a treatment program, regain control of their life again and get on a new course for success. While you may have done everything in your power to support them, relapse is still a possibility, even when everything seems to be going well.

The relapse rate for substance use disorders is estimated to be between 40 and 60 percent. Substance abuse recovery is a difficult road, and it may mean a relapse along the way. But your loved one can view it as a setback and learning experience, rather than a failure. The key is for them to reflect on the relapse, understand what prompted it and learn how to prevent it from happening again.

4 Reasons Relapse Occurs

Below are some of the common relapse triggers to be aware of. If you recognize any of these signs in your loved one, it may be time for additional support.

Stress. You may think of stress as a result of negative, overwhelming situations, but that’s not always the case. Even positive situations like a promotion or a new relationship can bring about change, which can lead to stress. This stress may urge your loved one to revert back to familiar coping mechanisms, making them vulnerable to a relapse. Your loved one will never be able to completely avoid stress in their life, but there are things they can do to deal with it in a healthy manner: talking to a sponsor or therapist, attending support meetings and avoiding major life decisions early in their recovery.

Lack of Mindfulness. Forgetting to be mindful of their thoughts and feelings can be detrimental to your loved one’s recovery. When they aren’t in control of their thoughts or not addressing what they’re feeling, impulsivity can creep back in and lead to alcohol or drug cravings. Fortunately, you can steer them away from this relapse trap by encouraging them to practice meditation and mindfulness each day.

Neglecting Self Care. Similar to a chronic illness, addiction recovery takes time, patience and maintenance. For example, managing hypertension requires a low sodium diet, exercise and possibly medications. But if you stop taking your medication or maintain an unhealthy diet, hypertension can lead to heart disease and other health complications. The same goes for addiction recovery. If your loved one isn’t keeping up with a pro-recovery diet, regular recovery meetings and daily exercise, they may struggle to cope with cravings and eventually relapse.

Impractical Expectations. Recovery is never an easy walk. But when your loved one has a good day, it’s easy to start believing that every day will be easy. However, recovery is a lifelong process, and there will be plenty of hard days. If you notice that your loved one is displaying some unrealistic expectations of their recovery experience, help them to set new expectations and remember that you’ll need to offer your support during the coming low days. This expectation also applies to how they view others. They may hold family members and friends in high regard, and any mistake they make can bring your loved one disappointment. Instead, help them learn to focus on rebuilding relationships and other aspects of their life one day at a time rather than setting themselves up for failure.

Find Hope in Relapse Prevention at The Raleigh House

Your loved one’s recovery is worth the extra effort, even if it means dealing with relapse. If your loved one finds themselves turning to substance abuse again, even when life is good, they’re not alone. And there is hope at The Raleigh House.

We’re here to help support both your loved one and you with over 10 years of evidence-based treatment and holistic therapies for an effective recovery. Our east to west approach offers a customized treatment experience to tackle your loved one’s unique challenges and get them back to a healthy and rewarding life once more.

Reach out to our admissions team today to learn more about our approach to a successful recovery.

Call Now: 720-891-4657

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