Why do Addicts Relapse When Things are Good?

Recovery from addiction is a challenging journey marked with ups and downs. Sobriety is to be celebrated and commended; those who reach this goal have the well-earned respect of friends and family. Science tells us, however, that addiction is a chronic disease—one to be managed and not cured. Like other chronic diseases, addiction relapse rate is cause for concern, so why do addicts relapse when things are good?

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6 Reasons for Why Do Addicts Relapse When Things are Good? 

Recovery begins with great hope and the resolve to live a sober and rewarding life. It is unimaginable that the disease of addiction could raise its ugly head once again after reaching sobriety. Unfortunately, relapse remains a perpetual possibility for the addict. Learning the reasons can help with prevention. Here are six reasons addicts relapse.

  1. Stress. Stress is a part of life before and after recovery and often triggers relapse. Some tension in life is predictable, such as dealing with people at work. But unforeseeable stress, such as a sudden medical problem, can undo all the effort spent in recovery. This makes finding healthy ways to cope with stress an essential life skill for those in recovery. The addict is more vulnerable to cravings and drug-seeking without this ability.
  2. Interpersonal conflict. Addiction often damages good relationships and births unhealthy ones. Once you begin recovery, you likely have toxic relationships that may trigger a relapse. Whether it’s the intensity of marital conflict, the pressure of peers, or the anger of family, you must be aware of the tendency to make bad decisions and relapse.
  3. Emotions. Many people abuse alcohol and drugs to help manage emotions, such as anxiety, resentment, and depression. Negative thinking, such as always discounting the positives, assuming the worst will happen, and thinking you are flawed, can result in emotions that trigger a relapse. 
  4. Withdrawal. Relapse is common during the first week of total abstinence to avoid withdrawal distress. Several factors affect relapsing due to withdrawal, such as the substance being abused, the substance’s withdrawal effects, and the duration of addiction. 
  5. Confidence. A healthy dose of self-confidence is essential to achieve sobriety. Unfortunately, too much confidence can lead addicts to forget that addiction is to be managed daily—not a disease with a cure. Times of celebration, in particular, pose a unique threat to sobriety for the overconfident person who may think themselves strong enough to take the one drink that results in relapse.
  6. People and Places. Some addicts already struggle with nostalgic thoughts about their life of addiction. Seeing people or visiting certain places can evoke these thoughts and feelings. It is important to develop a plan to deal with these temptations. Strategies such as having a sober friend to call or an activity such as exercising can help keep the addict on their sobriety journey.

Consider Myrtle Beach Recovery

Myrtle Beach Recovery is certified by the South Carolina Alliance for Recovery Residences as a Level III program. Contact us to learn more about our ideal environment to achieve sobriety and acquire the tools to remain sober.