Despite your most dedicated efforts to remain in recovery from addiction, relapse can occur. Relapse is when you resume substance use after a period of cessation and it is common. So common that it occurs for 40 to 60% of people in recovery when they leave rehab. While this may not have been in your future plan and can cause distress for you, it is important to realise that relapse features as a component of addiction. An addiction is, by definition, a chronic and relapsing disease, and several factors play a role in whether you relapse.

It’s important to remember that relapse isn’t the end. It doesn’t signify failure, and it can be overcome. The Providence Projects will help you move forward on your recovery journey and learn from the obstacles you encounter

What Is Relapse?

Relapse is not one event or outcome. Rather, it is a process that is thought to evolve over time. If you have gone into rehab and committed to yourself to abstain from substance use and then abuse that substance again, this is a relapse. Because of the changes that drug abuse causes in the brain, self-control and restraint take time to master.

In the same way, other chronic diseases flare up and then heal, addiction can go into remission and then return. The research indicates that relapse happens gradually, beginning with emotional relapse, progressing toward mental relapse, and then culminates in a physical relapse where you use the substance again.

Relapse Prevention in Addiction Rehabilitation


When it comes to relapse prevention, much is learnt during these therapy sessions. Here are some examples of what you may encounter during your therapy hours:


Understanding, managing, and avoiding your personal triggers is part of learning this process, and it is integral to your rehab programme. Triggers to abuse substances can take the form of places, people, experiences and emotions.


Another important aspect of relapse prevention that you will learn in rehab is self-care. This includes looking after your diet so it supports your healthy lifestyle, participating in regular exercise, and following a predictable and healthy sleep cycle.

Managing physical and mental health disorders

Part of your rehab process requires you to ensure that any physical and mental health disorders are managed effectively. When your body and mind are not in equilibrium, it can trigger you to relapse.


When you are in rehab you will be taught to question yourself according to the acronym HALT. This stands for hungry, angry, lonely, and tired, all of which are contributing factors to the impulse to relapse.

Meditation and mindfulness

Meditation teaches you self-awareness and it’s a skill that everyone, not just those in recovery, can benefit from. Meditation in recovery teaches you to accept cravings for substances, instead of fighting or resisting them. It calms the brain, and the body will follow suit.

Relapse Prevention Techniques

Changing your life requires recalibration and learning new techniques, hobbies and skills that gratify you and bring you joy. It’s not something you can do alone and it takes practice.

Get Support

Knowing that there are people on your team who support your recovery and do not judge you can help you to feel less alone. Join a support group, work with a sponsor, and confide in the people who support your sobriety.

Make New Friends

Resocialising can help you to feel accepted and give you an outlet during tough times. Make friends who celebrate your success.


Fill Your Life With Fun and Relaxation

We all want to feel fulfilled and inspired, and this requires us to practice activities and hobbies that we enjoy.

Set Reasonable Goals

Setting goals gives you purpose in life and helps you to remember what success means to you. If you don’t have goals, it’s difficult to acknowledge success.

Relapse is Not the End

As disappointed as you may feel about relapsing, it’s important to remember that relapse is not the end of your journey to recovery. A more helpful way to frame your response is how you respond to the event that makes the difference in your quality of life and your future recovery. Relapse prevention is all about learning how to avoid relapse and often, you can only really understand this when you make mistakes.

Long-Term Recovery and Aftercare

When you are in rehab, you are in a safe and controlled environment. Here you can explore your past and current situations and how they influenced the choices and decisions you made. You will learn coping strategies and mechanisms so that you can update your responses. Once you leave the rehab centre, you may encounter new challenges and old triggers in different contexts.

You will have set new life goals in rehab and you may need to work on your coping skills to navigate your new situation more effectively. Long term support and recovery will help you with reintegration when you leave rehab and help you polish your skills to prevent relapse.



What to Do after a Relapse?

When you have invested so much energy and resource into your recovery and you relapse, it’s natural to feel negative about it. This is why you need to reach out to discuss it with someone you trust and who has your best interests at heart. Your rehab centre, GP or counsellor need to know what has happened. Try not to focus on how they might feel and know that you will not be judged. Rather look at your desired end goal, which is recovery. Do not lose sight of your goals; keep them in focus and speak to your therapist or healthcare provider so you can modify your actions and keep working towards recovery.

Your disappointment is valid, but a professional can help you turn the hurdle into an opportunity to learn from your mistake to avoid it in the future. Secrecy is a potential trigger, but by exposing the relapse experience, you can change the way you respond.

Relapse Prevention & Aftercare Programmes at the Providence Projects

At Providence Projects our rolling relapse prevention programme has been created to empower you with the skills you need to avoid relapse. It is a comprehensive and holistic programme that we have honed over our years of experience with clients who have remained in recovery. It focuses on vital skills such as:

  • Recognising triggers to relapse
  • Learning coping mechanisms
  • Managing high risk situations
  • Identifying and correcting errors in your patterns of thinking
  • Learning how to refuse drugs and alcohol


Participating in aftercare programmes and working with a sponsor gives you better long-term relapse prevention skills as you encounter new challenges in your sober future.

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