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Many people with substance use disorder (SUD) experience a relapse during early recovery. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), “Relapse rates for drug use are similar to rates for other chronic medical illnesses.” In addition, “If people stop following their medical treatment plan, they are likely to relapse.” Treatment programs help people establish healthy coping skills. West Coast Recovery Centers uses integrative care and personalized treatment plans to reduce the risk of relapse in early recovery. 

How Does a Relapse Affect Recovery? 

Experiencing a relapse doesn’t mean you are unable to recover from SUD. Instead, it is merely a symptom to be treated and managed. The side effects of chronic substance misuse include changes to the brain or other body systems, intense cravings, and impulsive behaviors. In some cases, these side effects cause emotional or physical relapse. Individuals in outpatient treatment programs have many support services to help them progress after a relapse. 

Relapse impacts recovery by doing the following: 

  • Reducing self-confidence
  • Causing setbacks in treatment and increasing the severity of symptoms
  • Increasing the risk of developing a co-occurring mental health disorder 
  • Causing trust issues within close relationships 
  • Increasing the risk of overdose or other serious health complications

People who experience a relapse may have difficulty trusting themselves. Clinicians at West Coast Recovery Centers collaborate with clients to find healthy ways to reduce stress and recover from a relapse. Psychoeducation, therapy, skill development, and other tools help clients recognize potential warning signs of a relapse and find healthy ways to avoid or manage them. 

The Risk of a Relapse During Outpatient Treatment 

Outpatient treatment allows clients more freedom, sometimes leading to boredom or intense triggers. The risk of relapse is not necessarily higher for individuals in outpatient care. Outpatient programs like the ones offered at West Coast Recovery Centers may reduce the risk of relapse. If clients experience an emotional or physical relapse, the care team is there to support and guide them through re-establishing sobriety. 

Some of the ways outpatient care may increase the risk of relapse for some individuals include: 

  • Less accountability than in residential treatment 
  • Fewer check-ins per week with care team 
  • Freedom to contact and visit individuals who actively misuse substances 
  • Additional social and relationship stressors 

The ability to go anywhere, contact anyone, and do anything during outpatient treatment may increase cravings for some people. Individuals with fewer social supports sometimes backslide into using unhealthy coping mechanisms if they begin to feel overwhelmed. West Coast Recovery Centers helps people reduce the risk of relapse by ensuring honest and open communication and positive social support. 

The Importance of Self-Forgiveness and Acceptance

Relapse causes some people to feel overwhelmed by shame, guilt, or regret. However, relapse is a symptom of addiction. Self-blame or other reactions to relapse don’t support long-term recovery — instead, individuals in recovery benefit from practicing self-forgiveness and positive self-talk. The care team at West Coast Recovery Centers uses psychotherapy, peer support, and alternative holistic therapies to help clients accept their circumstances and continue healing after a relapse. 

Moving Forward in Treatment at West Coast Recovery Centers

The care team works with clients to determine what level of support they need at every stage of recovery. For many people who relapse during outpatient treatment, transitioning temporarily into the detox program helps them regain stability and continue moving forward. Clients rely on clinicians to provide the best services to address their unique needs after a relapse. Some clients may feel more comfortable temporarily transferring to a residential treatment setting during recovery after a relapse. The additional accountability and social support reduce the risk of further complications. 

Relapse Prevention and Avoiding a Future Relapse

Comprehensive relapse prevention education is an essential part of every program at West Coast Recovery Centers. The care team ensures clients understand the connections between their thoughts and behaviors to improve self-awareness and reduce the risk of future relapse. According to the Yale Journal of Biology and Medicine, “The goal of treatment is to help individuals recognize the early warning signs of relapse and to develop coping skills to prevent relapse early in the process, when the chances of success are greatest.”

Relapse prevention helps clients do the following: 

  • Recognize when they are in danger of relapsing 
  • Prepare crisis management and relapse prevention strategies to cope with significant stressors
  • Ensure clients know how to identify possible triggers of relapse and healthy ways to cope with them 

The clinicians at West Coast Recovery Centers help clients find stability after a relapse. In addition, the care team guides clients through developing strategies to manage and avoid relapses. A relapse is not an indication that someone is failing at recovery. Instead, it is merely a symptom of a disease people can overcome. 

Individuals in outpatient treatment may experience a relapse or other recovery setback. However, a relapse doesn’t stop treatment programs from ensuring clients continue moving forward in their recovery. Treatment programs provide essential support, including accountability and motivation to continue healing. The care team collaborates with clients to ensure they have access to the services they need to recover successfully from substance misuse and co-occurring disorders. West Coast Recovery Centers uses evidence-based methods to help clients find healthy ways to cope with stress and avoid relapse. A relapse doesn’t have to stop you from healing. Clients who relapse are guided through the process of re-stabilization. To learn more about our programs and services, call our office today at (760) 492-6509.