Relapsed After Going to Rehab? The Best Next Steps

While the goal of treatment is to help individuals abstain from their use of drugs or alcohol, the other part of it is designed to return these people to productive functioning in the family, workplace, and community. Most people who get into treatment stop using drugs, decrease their criminal activity, and improve their occupational, social, and psychological functioning. Specific treatment outcomes depend on the extent and nature of the person’s problems, and the appropriateness of treatment and related services used to address those problems, and the quality of interaction between the client and their treatment providers.

Relapse rates for addiction resemble those of other chronic diseases such as diabetes, hypertension, and asthma. Relapse is quite common for those going through treatment, but it is essential to know the difference between a slip or if you have fully relapsed.

In most cases, when relapse occurs, many may deem treatment a failure; this is not the case, as successful treatment for addiction requires continual evaluation and modification as necessary, similar to the approach used to treat other chronic diseases. While relapse is a normal part of recovery, it can be a perilous period for some drugs that can result in death.

If a person goes into using the same amount of the drug as they did before quitting, they can easily overdose because the body’s tolerance is no longer adapted to their previous drug exposure. An overdose occurs when an individual uses enough of a drug to produce uncomfortable feelings, life-threatening symptoms, or even death. Statistics indicate that 40 to 60 percent of those with substance use disorders will relapse, which is on par with hypertension (50 to 70 percent) and asthma (50 to 70 percent).

Knowing whether you should go back to a treatment center depends on how far you’ve slipped. The most crucial factor in your decision to return to rehab should always be personal health and safety. Many who relapse in the early stages of recovery can bounce back and regain control of their sobriety.

Relapse rates remain rather high, and with these staggering statistics, former drug users are encouraged to utilize aftercare support services and 12-step programs to protect their sobriety. The knowledge of how to respond to relapse is essential when it comes to maintaining long-term sobriety.

While each one of us differs in our lives, the drugs we may have consumed, among many other variables, there is no determination definitively answering if we are going to relapse. It is crucial to continue to educate yourself about the warning signs of a relapse. Relapse occurs before someone picks up a drug or drink of alcohol.

Signs Of A Relapse

There are many precursors when it comes to relapse. Researchers Terence T. Gorski and Merlene Miller identified a set of warnings signs that typically lead up to a relapse. Some of these include:

Change In Attitude

Those leaving recovery are typically in a positive mindset and very accepting of their newfound sobriety. As time moves forward outside the walls of a treatment center, the attitude toward sobriety can begin to change, which can increase the urge to use drugs or alcohol. Participating in the recovery program is not as important as it once was, and you feel that something is wrong, but you cannot identify precisely what it is.

Elevated Levels Of Stress

An increase in stress in your life can be due to a significant change in circumstances or just the little things buildings up. Returning to reality after time spent in treatment can be overwhelming, and the danger is overreacting to those situations. You must take precautions if you begin to have mood swings and exaggerated positive or negative emotions.

Reactivation Of Denial

It is not the same kind of denial that you have a drug or alcohol problem; it’s a denial that the stress is becoming overwhelming. You may try to convince yourself that everything is OK when it isn’t. You may be filled with fear or worry but dismiss the feelings and close yourself off.

Recurrence Of Withdrawal Symptoms

Anxiety, depression, sleeplessness, and memory loss can persist long after you abstain from drinking or doing drugs. These are known as post-acute withdrawal syndrome (PAWS), and the symptoms can reappear during times of stress. They are dangerous because you can be tempted to self-medicate with alcohol or drugs.

Behavior Changes

The daily routine that you developed early in sobriety may start to change, and you might begin to practice avoidance or become defensive in situations that call for an honest evaluation of your behavior.

Slip Vs. Relapse

As we discussed earlier, it’s crucial to understand the difference between a slip and a relapse. Depending on the severity of your return to substance abuse, you may need to go back to rehab. There are two general ways to evaluate whether you should go again—the length and intensity of your drug or alcohol abuse.


A slip is defined as a short-lived event—usually only a day—when a substance is used for a brief period. With a slip, the individual realizes the risk they’ve taken and stops using again before slipping back into the cracks of addiction. They take responsibility for their actions and are willing to speak to an addiction specialist to correct their treatment options to equip them for these urges better. In the event of a slip, the person can usually get back on track by going to a meeting


A relapse is a much more serious event where the person returns to a pattern of drug or alcohol abuse over days or weeks. During a relapse, the person may isolate themselves, skip their 12-step meetings, and avoid their sponsors. In the event of a relapse, it’s imperative to stop using and get immediate help.

Rehab, Round 2

If a relapse occurs, it’s vital to get into alcohol or drug rehab right away since it will cut off access to substances and help someone reclaim control over their recovery.

Programs vary in their approach and what they offer and finding a program that provides what you need will be necessary.

You must remember that going back to rehab does not mean that you have failed. In fact, you should look at this as an act of courage.

You made a mistake, but what matters is that you’ve realized the dangers of falling back into active addiction and value your life enough to make a positive change.

You’ve picked yourself up before, and you can do it again.

Experiencing prolonged sobriety will leave you feeling more determined to maintain that after a second stint in treatment. Going back to treatment after a relapse will give you your best chance at achieving lasting recovery.

Tap to GET HELP NOW: (844) 318-7500