What Causes Relapse and Keeping Sober After Rehab

Last Updated: Sep 20th 2019

Reviewed by Brittany Polansky

Once someone comes home after a stint in a South Florida rehab center to treat their drug or alcohol addiction, they will need to continue working with their family and the community they live in the make sure that they do not return to a life of alcohol and drug addiction. Regardless of what you may have seen online, staying sober after a substance addiction takes a whole lot more than just simply willing oneself through it – whether people want to believe it or not, addiction is a chronic illness. And not unlike many other chronic health problems, addiction can go into remission but may reemerge at a later time. Because of that, addiction treatment can be a lifelong process to help an addict keep away from drugs or alcohol.

Services for rehab, relapse management, and detox have come a long way over recent years, especially in the wake of the now decades-long opioid epidemic. Here in Florida, opiates – both prescription and illicit – have become increasingly visible as more and more of our population is stricken with addictions to these dangerous drugs. The same could be said for the country as a whole.

Still, because of the surge in drug addiction in Florida, the government has been able to locate problems regarding our laws and how they relate to the pharmaceutical industry, which means we should see better systems in place to help prevent addiction before it occurs in the first place. But with most things as far as the government is concerned, it feels like those kinds of things are taking forever to be implemented. Either way, the public is more aware than ever of the dangers of opioid and drug abuse, and insurance companies are becoming more inclusive when it comes to drug addiction treatment services that they offer through their coverage.

Relapse Triggers and Addiction Treatment After Rehab

The idea of relapse can be frightening, especially after finishing time spent in an inpatient addiction rehab setting, but those are not the only people who are at risk of relapse. Anyone who was ever subjected to addiction could find themselves relapsing back into substance abuse, and it can sneak up on someone rather easily.

Although people who have gone through rehab are cognitive of the fact that they have the capacity to not use drugs for an extended period of time considering they’d done so during their treatment, the unconscious signals their bodies send them can make relapse no more than one bad day, if not one single bad moment, away. It can feel like the substance still has control of them, and that can lead to a ton of anxiety or self doubt. Taking into consideration just how many people who suffer from drug or alcohol addiction are in a scenario where a dual diagnosis (when someone both has an addiction and a mental illness) is in play, those anxious feelings can quickly lead to triggering both their cravings and increasing the symptoms of the mental illness. In turn, this can make relapse seem unavoidable.

However, it should be noted that having worries about relapsing can be a good thing. It means that the addict is mindful of the dangers of their addiction and that they would prefer to live a life of sobriety. Likewise, when someone relapses, they aren’t likely to be thinking about just how long they had gone without using that substance before they’d returned to it – they are generally too busy thinking about the relapse itself and whatever triggered it. Where this can get especially dangerous is when people turn back to whatever they’d been addicted to, they often end up taking however much they used to take. However, since they had gone so long without using that substance, relapse can often lead to overdose deaths as their bodies are no longer conditioned to it anymore. Even if some people can build a tolerance quickly to large amounts of drugs, their first time back after achieving sobriety could mean losing their life over the cravings. They may tell themselves that they are only going to take one hit and be done with it, but that almost never ends up being the case. Instead, they often wind up hospitalized, dead, or more addicted than ever before. That doesn’t mean there is not hope, though – many people who live through their relapses end up solidifying their desire for sobriety stronger than ever before.

Still, there is one way that people can help stay away from the substance addiction that has plagued them, and that is through sticking to the aftercare treatment they agreed upon near the end of their time in a rehab center.

There are a variety of addiction treatment methods that previous addicts can use to prevent relapse after rehab. These include various therapy sessions and group meetings like Alcoholics Anonymous. By sticking to these treatment options, they continue to grow their arsenal against relapse, especially when it comes to dealing with the triggers that might have otherwise led to using drugs or alcohol again. Furthermore, having an outlet in one of these settings can show someone who has gone through rehab that they have a support system in place and that they can live a full life of sobriety. There is no such thing as having too many people on your team when it comes to getting help with an addiction, and that support should be embraced with open arms – even for those who feel like they are strong, independent, or introverted.

Those who are looking for a drug rehab center in South Florida have a large number of facilities to choose from, but that does not necessarily mean that every one of those locations is going to be right for each addict. First Step’s experienced professional staff is ready to help you or a loved one get through your addiction and finally end the substance abuse that probably feels like it has taken over your life.

Contact us today to get on – or back on in the case of a relapse – a path to sobriety with a support system that can offer the best ways to deal with your cravings and how to best deal with the triggers that may have otherwise led to a relapse.

Reviewed for Medical & Clinical Accuracy by Brittany Polansky

Brittany PolanskyBrittany has been working in behavioral health since 2012 and is a Primary Clinician at our facility. She is an LCSW and holds a master’s degree in social work. She has great experience with chemical dependency and co-occurring mental health diagnoses as well as various therapeutic techniques. Brittany is passionate about treating all clients with dignity and respect, and providing a safe environment where clients can begin their healing journey in recovery.