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Addiction Relapse

party with friends - addiction relapse

Recovering from alcohol or substance abuse is a process that takes time. It’s important to know that recovery is a lifelong process and relapses may occur along the way - however, relapse prevention is always the aim.

What Is Relapse?

A relapse happens when an individual with a past addiction stops maintaining his or her goal of avoiding substance use and returns to previous levels of use.

Addiction is a chronic condition, so relapse is often seen as a normal part of the recovery process. It is common for those attempting to overcome addiction to go through one or more relapses before successfully quitting.

Good treatment programs plan ahead for the possibility by including a relapse prevention plan as part of the process.

Stages & Signs Relapse

Relapse isn't a sudden event - it is a process that occurs over a period of time from weeks to even months. This process includes several stages that allow early recognition of signs and symptoms.

According to the National Library of Medicine (NIH), the stages of relapse include:

Emotional Relapse

During this stage, individuals are not thinking about drinking or using a substance, however their emotions and behaviors might be placing them at a higher risk of future use.


  • Experiencing isolation

  • Low social support

  • Not attending or sharing in meetings

  • Poor self-care

  • Focusing on other people’s problems instead of their own

Mental Relapse

During this stage, an individual is thinking about using, perhaps missing their former friends and activities - while battling the desire to remain abstinent.


  • Craving a substance

  • Thinking about, maybe even missing the people, places, and things associated with their substance use

  • Exaggerating the positive aspects of past use

  • Minimizing the consequences of past use,

  • Lying, bargaining, or trying to plan ways to use while still maintaining control

  • Seeking opportunities to relapse

Physical Relapse

This stage involves an individual resuming the use of the substance once again.

What To Do

Firstly, recognize that relapses happen - it doesn’t mean failure. A relapse indicates an individual needs some extra support and treatment right now and it’s best to find a treatment program and get help immediately.

Getting Help For Addiction

If you or somebody in your life seems to have an issue with alcohol or drugs, or is suffering from addiction, professional help may be the best option for recovery.

At Care Addiction Center, we offer treatment plans that address every facet of your addiction, serving individuals in Geneva, Batavia, Sycamore, St. Charles, and Kane County, with online addiction treatment available anywhere in Illinois. 

To get started on the road to recovery, or if you have questions about helping yourself or a loved one, call us today or schedule a confidential assessment online and begin treatment.


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