Inpatient rehab is the most effective treatment plan out there, to work through whilst battling an addiction. Whilst success rates are high, relapse is part and parcel of the long-term recovery process.

Relapse is a sensitive subject, viewed as the worst-case scenario for recovering addicts. It is understandable why relapse is viewed as a failure. Relapse is however a misunderstood response, which has many different stages, severities, and impacts. It can also be reversed and worked through, to regain control and to continue a sober journey.

Although expected, it is very important to be mindful and aware of relapse triggers and prepared for their appearance. Addiction relapse can be managed and worked through, viewed more as a lesson, rather than a permanent consequence. Yet without preventive steps and a range of coping mechanisms, an emotional relapse can turn into a physical relapse, commonly with some consequence.

Here’s how to avoid relapse when leaving inpatient rehab, along with some preventive tips and plans promoted here at Asana Lodge.


What Causes A Relapse?

An addiction relapse reflects regress throughout the recovery process. It will indicate some form of vulnerability, decreasing personal control and tolerance. Such vulnerability can be anything from a lack of awareness and planning to limited support.

Although relapse can result in further drug and alcohol abuse and can unravel some of the progress made through inpatient rehab, it is a lesson. It is an opportunity to make some changes and to increase personal focus and control over habits.

The risk of relapse is high through the below causes, some of which are internal and some which are external influences. Managing and avoiding each will be possible with preventive tools, coping mechanisms and full awareness.

Poor mental health and chronic stress: Mental health issues are co-existing alongside substance use disorders. If untreated, they can continue to influence cravings and the abuse of drugs/alcohol. If symptoms are new, in unmanageable cases, an escape may be longed for, resulting in a drug/alcohol relapse. Chronic stress can also throw a recovering addict off track, increasing anxiety and reducing commitment.

Unbearable withdrawal symptoms: For some people, relapse may occur straight after inpatient rehab. Withdrawal symptoms can be unbearable and difficult to pass by, resulting in immediate abuse.

Personal triggers: A lack of awareness and control over personal triggers can cause a relapse. Post-inpatient rehab, awareness of high-risk situations and stimuli is necessary, in order to remain sober.

High-risk situations: Anything from an influential environment to an associate can increase the risk of relapse. Recovering addicts with low awareness may be faced with a high-risk obstacle.

Lack of support: Going it alone, post-rehab, can be tough. Those who lack a support system will be at greater risk of addiction relapse.

Complacence: Whilst it is good to be confident, complacence is common throughout the addiction recovery process. By lowering the barriers and taking your eye off the ball, becoming complacent can increase vulnerabilities to relapse.

Lack of routine and planning: Recovering addicts will thrive off a routine. It’s important to follow a balanced, feasible lifestyle, which helps you remain sober. A lack of routine can trigger a relapse. Planning for life after inpatient rehab is a must.

A relapse is a sensitive and personal response. It can be triggered for a multitude of reasons, can materialise in many ways, and can be controlled through various coping mechanisms. To become aware of how to avoid release when leaving inpatient rehab, it is important to be mindful of this and educated on the stages of relapse.


Stages Of Relapse

There are three different stages to a relapse, which can either surface with intent or by accident. Either can be triggered, impacting emotional wellbeing, mental control, or physical actions. By understanding each stage of relapse, signs can be gauged and prepared for whilst leaving inpatient rehab.

Emotional relapse

An emotional relapse will display through a lack of mental stability and coping. Bottling up emotions and failing to act on them can trigger a relapse. Whilst drug and alcohol consumption and the idea of it, will be miles apart at this point, poor mental health and emotional vulnerabilities can increase the future risk of relapse.


Mental relapse

A mental relapse holds the conflict between sober intentions and the desire to consume drugs/alcohol. Someone who is experiencing a mental relapse will justify consumption, will downplay the negative consequences of consumption, and will see consumption as a way to cope through emotions.


Physical relapse

A physical relapse surrounds the act of drug/alcohol consumption. Consumption can range from a single drink to a wide range of habit-like behaviours. Someone who’s experiencing a physical relapse will lack control and may require additional inpatient rehab addiction treatment.

A relapse can be stopped, prevented, and avoided across each stage. Planning, preparation, and mindful actions will help through the next phase of recovery.


How To Prevent And Avoid Relapse

Relapse is especially common through early recovery, as sobriety and the lifestyle that it carries will take some time to adjust to. Yet relapse risks will be present across long-term recovery, requiring a routine, a relapse prevention plan, and a number of daily steps to reduce the risk. Here’s how to avoid relapse when leaving inpatient rehab, standing as the most challenging transition.


Be educated and aware

It’s essential to be educated and aware of relapse signs and triggers. It’s also important to know the different stages of a relapse, as most people associate it with physical consumption. With knowledge comes the chance to remain one step ahead of a progressive relapse.


Manage personal triggers

You’ll have some personal triggers which influence your negative thought patterns, habits, and behaviours. Whether that is an experience, a person, or an environment, you should again be aware of your triggers, with the opportunity to manage them. For example, if a certain environment influences your drug and alcohol cravings, staying away from such an environment will be wise as you leave inpatient rehab.


Develop some effective coping mechanisms

Leaving inpatient rehab may be tough, as you’ll be leaving a safe and controlled setting, to slowly revert to everyday life. To confidently work through this transition, developing some effective coping mechanisms will be beneficial. Your coping skill could be exercise, it could be deep breathing techniques, or it could be opening up to someone you trust.


Rely on support groups

There will be many other people in your shoes, hoping to maintain sobriety post-rehab. Those people will attend support groups, which you can also rely on. Peer support is beneficial as it increases motivation and accountability, offers a community feel, provides a safe place for advice, and also fits into aftercare.

Aftercare will be offered as a follow-on once you’ve completed inpatient rehab. Making the most of local meetings will be wise.


Prioritise self-care

Once you’ve been discharged from inpatient rehab, this will be the time to prioritise yourself. Self-care should become a part of your routine, from considering your physical wellbeing to your mental health. Positive and healthy choices, outlooks and activities will help to reduce the risks and help you avoid relapse.


Access support in high-risk situations

If you spot the signs of relapse or find yourself in a high-risk situation that may trigger substance abuse, accessing support will be essential. Professional support will be available to you through aftercare, where you’ll have the chance to complete one-to-one therapy sessions and regular check-ins.

It’s also recommended to have a list of emergency contacts, on hand, to contact in the event of relapse.


Prepare through relapse prevention planning

Relapse prevention planning will be focused on throughout inpatient rehab. Alongside a dedicated team, you will have the opportunity to prepare a relapse prevention plan.

Your plan will be personalised to your lifestyle, goals, and triggers. You’ll prepare some coping mechanisms, and you’ll have a plan of action in place to follow if you find yourself feeling low or in a compromised position.

Making use of your plan will help to avoid relapse and its development.


Prioritise sobriety

Early recovery should be about prioritising sobriety and the life that it takes to remain sober. Once you leave inpatient rehab, your choices, routines, and actions should support a sober life. You may need to make some changes in order to ease your sobriety. Those changes will be worthwhile, by helping you prevent relapse.


Continue with treatment

Addiction treatment can be accessed as and when needed. If you feel any form of vulnerability, treatment can continue. Regular support groups are beneficial and can significantly reduce the development of relapse.

Support is available to help you through both early and long-term recovery.


What Happens If I Relapse?

If you do relapse, be reassured that you can work back to a state of sobriety and go on to lead a fulfilled life. A relapse will indicate some form of vulnerability, which can be strengthened through preventive measures and action plans.

As soon as you relapse, reaching out for professional support will be recommended. The extent of your relapse can be gauged, to assess whether you require further treatment via inpatient rehab, or whether self-help will be enough.

Many relapse risks can be dealt with independently, yet in some cases, additional treatment will be beneficial. With professional support, the most effective course of action can then be followed to help you withdraw from drugs and alcohol and overcome their emotional effects.

At Asana Lodge, we can help you through inpatient rehab, the preparational steps and any risks of relapse. For further advice on how to avoid relapse when leaving inpatient rehab, or for support throughout addiction recovery, contact our team.


John Gillen - Author - Last Updated: 28 January 2022

John has travelled extensively around the world, culminating in 19 years’ experience looking at different models. He is the European pioneer of Nad+ (Nicotinamide Adenine Dinucleotide) treatment to Europe in 2010; and recently back from the USA bringing state of the art Virtual Reality Relapse Prevention and stress reduction therapy. his passion extends to other metabolic disturbances and neurodegenerative diseases.

The journey continues, in recent times john has travelled to Russia to study and research into a new therapy photobiomudulation or systemic laser therapy working with Nad+ scientists and the very best of the medical profession in the UK and the USA, together with Nadcell, Bionad Clinics own select Doctors, nurses, dieticians and therapists, Johns’ passion continues to endeavour to bring to the UK and Europe new developments with Nad+ therapy in preventive and restorative medicine and Wellness. In 2017 John Gillen was made a visiting Professor at the John Naisbitt university in Belgrade Serbia.

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