Going Back To Rehab After A Relapse

Going Back To Rehab After A Relapse
Recent research has shown that roughly half of the people who enter a treatment program for drug or alcohol addiction will relapse within less than a year. While statistics like this might sound discouraging, relapsing is considered a normal part of the recovery process because of all the physical and emotional challenges addiction puts people through. It is vital for those experiencing relapse to know that it is perfectly normal and in no way means that they have failed or are not worthy of living a happy, sober life. The medical community considers relapsing to be a symptom of addiction and recovery. That is why many rehab centers offer special rehab programs that provide extended care or aftercare, lasting throughout a person’s lifetime.

What To Do After A Relapse: A Four-Step Guide

Individuals with an addiction who have recently relapsed can feel overwhelmed trying to figure out the next step. The following are steps to take if you or someone you love have experienced a relapse.

Step One: 

The first step that a person seeking addiction treatment after a relapse should take is to call their treatment sponsor right away. This step is significant because there is a good chance that their drug or alcohol binge could happen again if they don’t get the support that they need to overcome the relapse. Note: If a treatment sponsor isn’t available, it helps to call a trusted friend or family member instead.

Step Two: 

Next, remove all the drugs or alcohol from the home so that they won’t be a temptation. It may be necessary to call a local police department for help with this process if the substances are illegal.

Step Three:

Keep away from triggers that will increase the likelihood of escalating relapse. For example, someone with an alcohol use disorder should avoid going to a bar or seeing their old drinking buddies.

Step Four: 

Consider re-entering addiction treatment.

Why Didn’t My Previous Addiction Treatment Program Work?

Going back to rehab after a relapse is usually the last thing someone wants to do, but it is the most reliable way to help them back to the path to sobriety. Many people think that relapsing after completing rehab is evidence of failure, either on the part of the program or the individual. However, the truth is that drug and alcohol treatment-relapse rates are comparable to the relapse rates of other medical conditions that people have much less control over. Consider the following rates of relapse:
  • Drug and alcohol addiction treatment (40 percent to 60 percent)
  • Type I Diabetes (30 percent to 50 percent)
  • Hypertension and asthma (50 percent to 70 percent) 

Should You Start Another Addiction Treatment Program? 

The best way to tell if going back to rehab after a relapse is necessary is to look at how severe the relapse was and consider the likeliness that a person will use drugs or alcohol again. If a person had only one drink, they might be able to stop on their own. However, someone who has had an extended drug binge lasting several weeks or more should be admitted to a rehab program right away because they could overdose if they don’t get urgent medical care.

Why Addiction Treatment Is Vital to Long-Term Recovery 

There are a few things about addiction treatment that are commonly misunderstood, including:
  • One of the main reasons that a person ends up having to return to a rehab center is because they didn’t stay in treatment long enough the first time. 
  • Studies have proven that long-term drug and alcohol treatment is much more useful than short-term care. 
  • If a person has to be in short-term care, the risk of them relapsing can be reduced by placing them in relapse prevention programs afterward. 

Potential Dangers of Relapse 

After completing a drug and alcohol treatment program, an individual’s tolerance to substances has severely decreased, compared to when they entered treatment. That is why people who experience a relapse after completing a treatment program are much more likely to experience an overdose. When someone overdoses, they take more of the substance than their body can process. This can result in severe overdose symptoms, including:
  • difficulty breathing 
  • coma
  • potential death 

What Are My Treatment Options After A Relapse?

People who are seeking addiction treatment after a relapse have several options to choose from. Most of them depend on the type of substance that a person is addicted to. For instance, a program that includes a detox phase will likely be necessary for those addicted to drugs that cause severe withdrawal symptoms, such as:
  • opioids
  • alcohol
  • benzodiazepines
  • barbiturates
  • other prescription medications 
However, someone addicted to alcohol may want to enter a 12-step program instead. Some of the other available treatment options include:
  • partial hospitalization
  • inpatient and outpatient programs
  • aftercare programs 

How To Find A Rehab Center After A Relapse

If you or your loved one have recently relapsed, going back to rehab may be the best option to getting back on the path to sobriety. Let Elevate Addiction Services help you get the treatment you need to overcome addiction once and for all. Our highly trained treatment specialists will work with you and help you make addiction a part of your past. Contact us today to learn more.


This page does not provide medical advice

Written by Elevate Addiction Services | ©2020 Elevate Addiction Services | All Rights Reserved

Medically Reviewed by

Tim Sinnott, LMFT LAADC

December 11, 2020

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