Addiction Relapse is Not a Sign of Failure

Addiction Relapse and What It Means for Recovery

Addiction is often referred to as a chronic, relapsing disease and for good reason. Addiction relapse statistics on the JAMA Network found that between 40 and 60 percent of year-one recovering addicts start using drugs or alcohol again, known as a relapse. However, such high rates of relapse should not be thought of as failures, but rather symptoms of the type of disease it is: a chronic relapsing disease. Addiction relapse can be seen as another step in the longer process that ultimately leads to complete sobriety.

The idea that a relapse means that the person has failed with their recovery is one that only applies to addiction and no other similar chronic disease. A person who suffers from diabetes that has some complications during their treatment and management of the disease are not considered to have failed in treatment but rather that the process is a natural progression often seen in chronic diseases. Addiction relapse should be seen in the same light.

What is a Positive Treatment Result?

Based on previously mentioned addiction relapse statistics, one cannot base a positive treatment result on just the person’s ability to remain clean and sober. In the past, even if a person managed to stay clean for years but had one momentary slip, the treatment was considered a failure without taking into consideration the time that they managed to stay clean at all.

Instead, addiction relapse should be considered a normal part of the process to reach long-term sobriety. Any time that the person stopped using drugs or alcohol should be seen as a positive recovery result so that it can further built upon.

Early Prevention

Addiction is a progressive disease. The longer it is left to continue, the more difficult it becomes for a person to stop using and remain clean. Primary care givers are in a position to identify early signs of substance abuse that has a high potential of becoming an addiction. One of the best ways to deal with addiction is through early prevention. A patient seeing a doctor should be asked the right questions to determine whether or not they may have a substance abuse problem. From there the patient can be directed to effective treatment programs to start their recovery.

Open Communication

An important part of addiction relapse prevention strategies is to be able to openly speak to a care giver about relapse.  In a person with diabetes, if treatment was proving to be inefficient, the doctor would change the treatment plan based on what the patient tells the doctor. Open communication is therefore an important aspect of the addiction relapse prevention strategies so that the right treatment method is found.

In addiction treatment, one method may not be as effective, leading to higher chances of relapse. A recovering addict must be able to express themselves without fear of stigma, and with the support of their care giver. Addiction is a treatable disease, but only if the right program is used based on the results seen in the patient. However, without open communication from the part of the addict, this becomes difficult.

The therapist assisting with the addiction recovery should create an environment where the individual feels comfortable talking about the aspects of their recovery that isn’t working as well as it should. By the addict working with the therapist, the right tailor-made treatment model can be found for the individual.


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.