Legacy Healing Center What is a Relapse

What Is a Relapse?

Legacy Healing Center Blog

Learning About Relapse Can Help Lessen the Dangers of Drug Addiction

If you are fortunate enough to have never suffered from an alcohol or drug addiction, you may have heard the term “relapse” but not necessarily understood what it meant. You might also think seeking help and staying sober entails the end of the recovery journey. However, those who have suffered from these kinds of life-changing habits know that completing treatment at a behavioral health center does not mean the end goal was achieved on the journey to recovery. Instead, it is the beginning of a lifelong process that can be challenging at times.  Understanding what a relapse is can go a long way in helping to prevent one from occurring in the first place.

Click here to speak with a treatment specialist today or call us anytime 24/7 at (888) 534-2295

Those with direct experience on this kind of journey understand the risk of relapse always remains present. The best action to implement involves recognizing that fact and working hard every day to avoid people, places, and situations that could serve as triggers for relapse.

So what is a relapse, and why is it so dangerous? Whether you have suffered from drug or alcohol dependency in the past or are concerned about someone you love, understanding the dangers of relapse, and working to prevent one could save a life.

What Is Relapse?

In the world of medicine, the term relapse refers to the return of a previous condition. Doctors may talk about this in medical terms, and they may say a patient who had previously been cured of a disease has relapsed when the situation reappears.

Drug and alcohol abuse are also diseases, and the term relapse can accurately be used in that regard as well. When an individual who had previously overcome a drug or alcohol addiction begins to use drugs or drink again, they have suffered from a relapse.

Why Is Relapse So Dangerous?

Returning to drug use or problem drinking is a setback, and there are multiple reasons why it can be incredibly dangerous. During the physical detoxification process, the body is cleared of toxic substances, giving the user a new lease on life and making the recovery process more manageable. But at the same time, this process lowers resistance to those same toxic substances, and if they begin to use again, they are at a greater risk of overdose.

Without the tolerance they had previously built up, newly sober individuals are at a unique risk of death from overdose. This risk is especially acute among former opioid addicts, who may turn to heroin that has been altered with even more powerful and deadly substances.

What Are Some Common Triggers for Relapse?

Whether you are struggling to maintain your sobriety or worried about someone in your family or circle of friends, it is vital to recognize the most common relapse triggers. Several factors can make a return to drug use more likely, and recognizing the early warning signs of relapse could save your life or the life of someone you love.

There are many common relapse triggers, including a return to the places frequented while using. If someone you care about begins hanging out at their old haunts, it may be time to intervene.

Other relapse triggers include the “H.A.L.T” risk factors. For those with a history of addiction, being Hungry, Angry, Lonely, or Tired could trigger a dangerous relapse, and it is essential to recognize and blunt those triggers. It could be as simple as grabbing a quick snack, taking a nap, meditating to calm down, or seeking the company of those they love, and these early interventions can make a world of difference.

A Sudden Illness

Anything that saps your strength can make a relapse more likely, so taking care of your physical health and mental well-being will be vital moving forward. But if you fall ill, you may need to work extra hard to maintain your sobriety, work with your doctors, and allow your loved ones to care for you while you get better.

It is essential for your caregivers, including your family doctor, to know about your medical history, including your past substance abuse. This knowledge will help these medical professionals tailor a treatment plan just for you, one that addresses your physical illness without triggering a dangerous relapse.

Preventing relapse is a key part of addiction recovery and a critical requirement for a lifetime of sobriety and a more successful life. Recognizing the danger of relapse and actively working to avoid its risks are important for anyone struggling with addiction, and it could save lives.


If you or someone you love are struggling with substance abuse or are at risk of a relapse, call Legacy Healing Center today to learn how our holistic patient centered treatment can help.  Call 888.534.2295 anytime 24/7.  Calls are completely confidential.