How To Know If You Have Relapsed

relapse Feb 02, 2023

Relapse can happen at times during the process of recovery. It is defined as a return to the use of a substance or engagement in an addictive behaviour after a period of control and active choice. Relapse or "recycling” can occur when someone has completely stepped back into the mindset, behaviours, and interactions in the same or similar way prior to moving into maintenance and recovery.  

Relapse can be a difficult and perplexing experience, and it's imperative to acknowledge that it can happen within the recovery process for some people.  

It's important to recognise that a relapse does not mean that recovery is impossible, that all progress has been lost and that you’ve somehow failed the process. Instead, these moments can provide useful learning opportunities to make adjustments within your recovery plan.  

Your recovery plan can be created with your primary therapist and can be refined according to what works for you and can realistically be applied. Learning new tools by staying connected to recovery groups, forums or programs is another way to learn how you can manage a relapse. While self-directed learning through evidence-base information platforms can be useful, interactive support allows for accountability, bilateral modes of communication and multiple perspectives and positions to enhance the recovery process. Hence, it is important to create a balance in approaches to learning to develop the best set of skills after experiencing a lapse or relapse.  

If you do experience a relapse, it's important to seek assistance as soon as possible. This might involve reaching out to someone within your team (a close friend or trusted family member), attending a support group, or seeking professional treatment. Immediate considered proactive steps need to be implemented to ensure that you can get back on track as soon as you can.  

Relapse can happen at any stage of an individuals recovery process regardless of whether they are in the early stages (the first 12 months of active change) or years after they have maintained recovery. It is vital to remember that relapse can happen and it does not mean that you are broken or somehow defective. Seeking support, amending your recovery plan, and ensuring that you are continuing to practice the tools and strategies you need to stay on track means that you can overcome a relapse and continue on the path of recovery.