Is Relapse a Part of Recovery?

addiction relapse

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Addiction recovery is a journey worth celebrating. Winning the battle against substance use disorder is no easy feat. So, individuals who successfully complete addiction treatment should certainly be proud!

However, it is important to note that the road to recovery can be strewed with challenging experiences. While going through treatment and after completing it, recovering individuals are likely to encounter hindrances and obstacles. They may even relapse.

While it isn’t easy to come to grips with this possibility, it is imperative that recovering individuals know what to do after a relapse. If relapse does occur on the road to recovery, knowing how to make a comeback can make all the difference in the world.

Emotional Relapse

This stage of relapse occurs when a recovering person experiences some of the same emotions they had when they were using drugs or alcohol. They may not be thinking about returning to substance use. But, they may begin to show signs of emotional decline. The signs of emotional relapse may include mood swings, irritability, poor self-care, and isolation. Individuals experiencing an emotional relapse may even stop attending recovery meetings and therapy.

Mental Relapse

In this second stage of addiction relapse, thoughts of using alcohol or drugs may present themselves. People may begin to fantasize about substance use. While these thoughts are not uncommon in early recovery, it is important to avoid acting on these thoughts. However, mental relapse may lead people to spend time with old friends who use drugs or abuse alcohol. Other signs of mental relapse may include dishonesty about one’s whereabouts, physical cravings for drugs or alcohol, and even planning opportunities to use substances.

Physical Relapse

Physical relapse is the stage of addiction relapse with which most people are familiar. During this phase of relapse, people finally revert to substance use. They actively seek out drugs or alcohol and begin using them again.

Combatting the Guilt of Relapse

Firstly, it is necessary to answer the following question: Is relapse a part of recovery? In a word, yes. Often, even the most dedicated recovering individuals suffer from some stage of relapse. Relapse happens. So, those who are striving to end addiction in their lives should never succumb to the feelings of guilt and regret that might occur after a relapse occurs. Instead, it is crucial to learn what to do after a relapse in order to get back on track.

Is relapse a part of recovery

Seek Support

In most cases, emotional and mental relapse may cause people to stop attending their regular support group meetings. These two stages of relapse often lead to physical relapse. When this occurs, it is imperative that individuals seek the support they have likely not been receiving.

People can get the support they need by doing the following:

  • Returning to support group meetings
  • Speaking with a therapist, one-on-one
  • Talking to trustworthy friends or relatives

Having the support of people who truly care can help people turn things around in their lives.

Change Your Habits

Mental relapse can cause harmful habits to resurface. Things like hanging out with old friends, speaking negatively about oneself, entertaining thoughts of substance use, and more can become habitual. These actions and behaviors can only lead to negative consequences, including physical relapse. When it comes to knowing what to do after a relapse occurs, habit changes are definitely in order.

Some positive habits to introduce after a relapse may include:

  • Physical exercise
  • Healthy eating habits
  • Spending time with positive influences
  • Talking about emotions rather than bottling them up
  • Art (painting, drawing, pottery, music, etc.)
  • Counseling (attending therapy regularly)
  • Journaling

Introducing positive habits into a person’s life can help the individual get back on track after a relapse occurs.

Be Realistic

Setting realistic expectations in recovery can be challenging. It can be difficult to know what to expect while working to overcome a substance use disorder. Remaining realistic after a relapse happens can be just as complex. However, setting realistic goals and expectations is going to be absolutely essential in getting back on the right path.

Those in recovery must be realistic about their strengths and weaknesses. They must keep in mind the triggers that might cause them to stumble. Remaining realistic about these matters can be incredibly helpful as people recover from a relapse.

Create a Plan

A relapse prevention plan is absolutely crucial when it comes to recovering from addiction. This sort of plan can, of course, provide support and guidance to help people avoid relapse. But, on the other hand, it can also provide a plan regarding what to do after a relapse.

what to do after a relapse

Consider Going Back to Treatment

A person who has relapsed might consider going back to treatment. While intensive treatment programs may not be necessary, outpatient care might be in order. It is best, however, to speak with the team of professionals at the rehabilitation center. They can provide guidance regarding the best course of action.

If treatment is necessary, it is not a sign of failure. Instead, it is a sign of strength and wisdom. After all, admitting the need for help is difficult. But, when it comes to recovery, it is best to seek assistance and support.

Returning to treatment can be exactly what a person needs as they seek to recover from a relapse. Since relapse is often a part of recovery, a good addiction treatment facility will be able to help those who are returning for treatment. Here at Jaywalker, we know exactly how to help!

Receiving Treatment at Jaywalker

If you have been struggling with addiction or you are experiencing a relapse, you are not alone. Many people have experienced the same struggles and bounced back. With help from our addiction treatment center in Colorado, you can do the same!

The Landing

First, you may go through the first phase of treatment here at our facility. The Landing provides our new clients with an introduction to our continuum of care. While in this program, you can experience the benefits of accountability and encouragement. This program lasts for 3-21 days, depending on your unique and specific needs. Our team of specialists will provide you with the guidance you need as you work through this initial stage of treatment. You will be in an environment that is genuinely conducive to your recovery.

The Lodge

Once you complete this phase of treatment, you can continue on to the 90-day program we offer, The Lodge! This program truly engages you in addiction recovery, equipping you with the skills you will need to move forward on your journey. While the rigorous treatment process can be challenging, you will find that The Lodge offers you a real chance at sobriety and freedom. With a combination of mountain-based activities, therapy, and community involvement, this program is a one-of-a-kind approach to addiction rehabilitation!


Our Solutions program is a 90-day transitional program that helps prepare you for the next stage of your recovery. We tailor it to address your unique journey and the needs you have along the way. While in the Solutions program, you will experience the implementation of a sober lifestyle program that resembles independent living. The program focuses on your personal story, equipping you with the tools, skills, and resources you will need as you move forward.

Outpatient Services

Our outpatient program involves a combination of therapeutic approaches, educational resources, and group activities. This can help you as you work to fully recover from alcohol and drug abuse. Through our outpatient rehabilitation program, you will be able to leave substance use disorder behind you!

This program invites participants to attend two evening group therapy sessions per week. Individuals will also have a weekly individual therapy session. These group and individual therapy meetings will help solidify and establish those working to recover from substance misuse.

Jaywalker is Here for You!

Located in Carbondale, Colorado, Jaywalker is here to help those who are suffering and struggling with alcoholism and drug addiction. Our mission is to pave the way for people to overcome addiction, once and for all. So, if you have recently experienced a relapse, there is hope!

It is easy for guilt and shame to sink in once a relapse occurs. Not knowing what to do after a relapse can cause people to be derailed for years. But, once you seek help here at Jaywalker, you will receive the resources and support you need to get back on your feet.

For more information about our programs or to begin your journey to an addiction-free life, just contact us today. We are here to help you!

author avatar
Stefan Bate, MA, LAC, CCTP Chief Clinical Officer
Stefan Bate, BA, MA, LAC holds a Master's Degree in Applied Psychology from Regis University and is a Licensed Addiction Counselor in the state of Colorado. Stefan has wide-ranging experience in the field of addiction recovery including: working as a recovery coach, therapist, and program director.

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