Relapsing From Alcohol or Drugs

When a person, who stopped using alcohol or drugs, slips because of feeling bad, it is called a relapse. After the periods of sobriety, relapses occur with many people, and it is considered to be normal. Trying to quit drug or alcohol addiction looks like an attempt to follow a diet to lose excessive weight. Both processes require practice to learn to do things in a new way, and mistakes are inevitable. Usually, a person experiences one or two relapses as a result of temporary weaknesses and provoking factors. They can include a lack of support system, failing to make sobriety a priority, and not being prepared for the life after quitting substance abuse (Sliedrecht et al., 2019). In addition, relapse may be stimulated by social and economic factors, such as unemployment, low income, living in a disadvantaged neighborhood, and so on.

To prevent a relapse, a person should be able to recognize the signs that predict it. The first measure to avoid relapses is self-care, namely, balanced nutrition and physical activity. By eating, training, and sleeping properly, the person trying to quit drug use prepares his or her body for difficult times. The practise of mindfulness is the second strategy that implies acceptance, patience, meditation, praying, and other ways to work with cravings. Also, the awareness of personal triggering factors and grounding techniques reduced the risk of relapses. For example, deep breathing or other coping techniques can be used to overcome obsessive thoughts. The emergency list that was prepared in advance may be helpful to call a counselor or friend and seek help. In combination, the above measures equip a person with various options to avoid relapses from alcohol or drugs.


Sliedrecht, W., de Waart, R., Witkiewitz, K., & Roozen, H. G. (2019). Alcohol use disorder relapse factors: A systematic review. Psychiatry Research, 278, 97-115.

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