Steps to Take After a Relapse

Fear of a relapse is the number one concern of most people in recovery.

It is especially threatening for newly recovered addicts as is evidenced by the number of questions concerning relapse aimed at addiction specialists. Worrisome questions such as; can I prevent it from happening to me, does it mean I will never be free from addiction, is there anything I can do to prevent it to name a few are worrisome are asked by many people concerned about a relapse.  These questions are typically all about how to make sure it never happens rather than what to what to do in the event that it does happen.

While a drug relapse is a devastating blow to both the addict and their families and has the potential to be dangerous, it is inherent in the drug addiction condition.  Scientist at the National institute on drug Abuse (NIDA) says nearly half of all chemical dependency clients relapse at least once after a period of abstinence.  Surveys of people who relapse indicate that many acknowledge that they have relapsed and want to change their lives so they can stay off drugs but are uncertain as to what to do after a relapse. As such, the following five steps may help those fearing a relapse or have already relapsed to find their way back on the road to recovery.

Steps to Take After a Relapse:

  1. Get help immediately by telling someone who can help you such as a supportive friend, therapist, family member, sponsor or counselor at a drug treatment center. The worst thing to do after a relapse is to isolate yourself or keep it a secret.
  2. Remind yourself of the reasons you got clean in the first place and double your efforts to overcome this temporary setback.
  3. Recognize that a relapse is a part of the addiction/recovery process and does not mean that your recovery has failed.
  4. Evaluate the events that led up to or may have triggered the relapse.
  5. Make a new sobriety maintenance plan such as:
    a. Reentering rehab or engaging in a longer treatment period.
    b. Shoring up or improving your current support system.
    c. Examining and reducing stress related issues that may have triggered the relapse.
    d. Removing yourself from frequent exposure to people, places and things that threaten your sobriety.
    e. Participating in a relapse prevention education and training program.
    f. Make a commitment to be consistent about attending meetings or participation in other support services as part of your recovery process.

Patients who have participated in relapse prevention education and training are intrinsically more aware of the dangers and are therefore better able to recognize the onset of a relapse in order to stop one before it occurs or minimize the effects if it happens.

Recovery Training and Self-Help (RTSH) is an important and comprehensive relapse prevention strategy that is provided at many drug rehab centers as an in-patient or outpatient procedure. It can be offered in the context of continued care or as a follow-up treatment.  RTSH not only assist patients to safely halt drug use but also support cognitive behavioral therapy, reiterate relapse prevention education and training and re-evaluate the patient’s aftercare support services.

Many individuals report that they gained valuable information about themselves and their ability to stay sober from experiencing a relapse.  Relapse events can communicate important information that help the person in recovery to strengthen their defense mechanisms to be able to maintain long term sobriety.


If you or a loved one needs help with abuse and/or treatment, please call the WhiteSands Treatment at (877) 855-3470. Our addiction specialists can assess your recovery needs and help you get the addiction treatment that provides the best chance for your long-term recovery.

About the Author

is a proud alumni member of WhiteSands Treatment. After living a life of chaos, destruction and constant let downs, Mark was able to make a complete turnaround that sparked a new way of life. He is serious about his recovery along with helping others. At WhiteSands Treatment, we offer support to you in your homes or when you are out living in your daily lives.