The 7 Most Common Causes Of Relapse

June 4, 2024

3 mins

Jackie Rosu


Understanding the risks of relapse and the underlying causes is critical for creating effective prevention strategies and supporting long-term recovery efforts.

Relapse is a major issue for those in recovery from substance use disorder (SUD). Despite making substantial progress, many people have setbacks and return to using. Recovery from substance, gambling, or any other addictive behavior can be difficult. Understanding the risks of relapse and the underlying causes is critical for creating effective prevention strategies and supporting long-term recovery efforts.

1. Stress and Emotional Turmoil

One of the most common causes of relapse is stress and emotional turmoil, even physical pain. Individuals who are dealing with severe emotions or situations frequently turn to substance addiction as a coping method. When circumstances become overwhelming, or emotions are high, the temptation to rely on old coping techniques can be strong, leading to relapse.

2. Social Pressures and Environments 

Social factors and circumstances have an important role in triggering relapse. Being in places where substance use is common or surrounded by people who participate in addictive behaviors might increase the risk of relapse. Furthermore, social isolation or the inability to form a supportive network can lead to feelings of loneliness and induce a SUD relapse.

3. Overconfidence and Complacency

Following a period of sobriety or effectively managing addictive behaviors, some people may become overconfident in their ability to resist temptation. This sense of complacency can lead to a loss of alertness and a failure to maintain required coping methods and support structures, culminating in relapse.

4. Untreated Co-Occurring Disorders

Many people who struggle with addiction also suffer from co-occurring mental health illnesses such as depression, anxiety, or PTSD. When these underlying concerns go untreated or are not appropriately addressed in treatment, they can lead to recurrence. Effective recovery necessitates comprehensive therapy that tackles both addiction and co-occurring disorders together.

5. Triggers and Cues

Triggers are situations, people, or objects that cause cravings and result in substance usage. Certain cues or triggers can cause intense cravings and urges to participate in addictive behavior. 

What are the types of relapse triggers?

Relapse triggers can vary greatly from person to person and might include everything from social cues to stress. In addition to internal indications such as specific feelings or bodily sensations, triggers can also be environmental, like walking by a familiar bar or running into former acquaintances who have a history of substance abuse. Limit your exposure to individuals, places, or events that you know are likely to cause relapse in order to minimize the chance of encountering high-risk situations.

6. Lack of Support

A supportive network is necessary for healing. Relapse is more probable when people feel alienated, unsupported, or stigmatized. Creating a solid support system is critical. Connect with online support groups, therapists, family members, and friends who understand your recovery process. These resources can provide a sense of community and accountability.

7. Poor Self-Care

Neglecting self-care can make people vulnerable to relapse. It's vital to arm yourself with effective coping methods for dealing with stress, anxiety, and other emotional triggers. Physical health, which includes good eating, exercise, and sleep, is critical for maintaining emotional well-being and resilience to cravings. Furthermore, neglecting mental and emotional self-care, such as therapy, support group involvement, and healthy recreational activities, might jeopardize recovery attempts.

Let’s Work Together

Relapse is a common and often frustrating part of the recovery process, but it is not a sign of failure. It provides an opportunity to learn from your experience, identify areas for development, and develop more effective prevention tactics. Individuals can reduce their risk of relapse and move toward long-term recovery by addressing underlying concerns, developing effective coping skills, and creating supportive surroundings. Remember that relapse does not erase progress; rather, it serves as a wake-up call to review and recommit to the healing process.

Visit us to choose the best Never Alone Recovery program for your needs and learn more about our other sobriety resources. Our staff works hard to ensure that every patient who receives treatment has the best chance of establishing sobriety and stability, which will lead to a better future. Join our free online support group as your first step toward recovery, and we can work together to identify relapse triggers.

relapse trigger, risks of relapse

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