Top 10 Reasons Addicts Relapse During Recovery

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Regression to bad habits or substance abuse after a period of recovery or abstinence is known as relapse. It is a frequent problem that people in the process of healing from addiction or mental health issues have to face. Stress, triggers, sad emotions, a lack of support, and the presence of external reminders of substance use can all be factors of relapse. Being aware of the possible causes of relapse can help those in recovery to recognize their personal prompts and create plans to control them, increasing the chances of successful long-term recovery.

Relapse Explained

Relapse refers to the recurrence of symptoms or behaviors after a period of improvement or recovery. It is a common challenge faced by individuals who have experienced a behavioral or mental health problem and can be a setback in the recovery process. Relapse is a multistage process and can occur gradually or suddenly. The stages of relapse can be described as follows:

Emotional Relapse

This stage is characterized by feelings of stress, anxiety, and irritability. Individuals may also experience a decline in their overall mood and engage in unhealthy coping mechanisms, such as substance abuse or overeating.

Mental Relapse

This stage involves thoughts and fantasies about engaging in problematic behavior. Individuals may also start to rationalize their actions and minimize the consequences of their behavior.


Physical Relapse

This stage is the actual return to the problematic behavior. Individuals may engage in behaviors such as substance abuse or gambling, despite knowing the potential consequences.

Preventing relapse requires a combination of continuous treatment, support, and self-awareness. By understanding these stages of relapse, individuals can identify early warning signs and take proactive steps to maintain their progress in recovery.

Top 10 Reasons Addicts Relapse During Recovery

The following are the top ten reasons why individuals in recovery may experience relapse. It’s important to note that relapse is not a failure, but rather a common challenge in the recovery process. Addressing these factors can help individuals maintain their progress in recovery and reduce the risk of relapse.

1. Stress

Although an inevitable part of life, stress can have serious consequences if left unchecked. High levels of stress can lead to difficulty concentrating, increased irritability, and can even trigger cravings for substances. Stress management is a key aspect of relapse prevention, as it can help prevent a return to substance abuse. Therefore, it’s important to recognize the signs of stress and to have coping mechanisms in place that allow you to manage these feelings in a healthy way.

2. Lack of Support

Individuals in recovery often face a lack of support from friends and family, leaving them feeling isolated. This can be especially difficult during periods of difficulty or stress, when this lack of support can increase the risk of relapse. It is important for individuals in recovery to have access to resources such as support groups and professional counseling to help them maintain their sobriety. Additionally, they should strive to find social outlets and activities that provide positive reinforcement and meaningful connections with others in the recovery community.

3. Unresolved Trauma

Unresolved trauma from past traumatic events can be a significant factor in relapse for those recovering from substance abuse. This is because it may resurface and cause feelings of distress or anxiety which may lead to a return to substance abuse as a coping mechanism. In order to stay on the path to long-term recovery, it is important to address unresolved trauma and find healthy ways to cope with it.

4. Mental Health Issues

Mental health issues such as anxiety and depression can have a large impact on someone’s life and recovery. When left untreated, these issues can lead to an increased risk of relapse, making it all the more important to seek professional help if one notices any of these symptoms or if they are struggling with their mental health. It is important to remember that seeking help is not a sign of weakness but simply a step towards improving one’s mental well-being and achieving success in their recovery journey.

5. Lack of Structure

The lack of any sort of routine or structure in daily life can lead to boredom and have severe consequences. Boredom, if not managed properly, can be a factor that leads an individual to return to substance abuse as a coping mechanism. It is imperative to have meaningful activities in one’s life to help cope with boredom and reduce the likelihood of relapse into substance abuse. Having a solid structure in one’s daily life is an important part of sustaining recovery and avoiding falling back on any form of substance abuse.

6. Negativity

Negative emotions like anger, frustration, and sadness should be addressed in order to reduce the risk of relapse. People with substance abuse problems are more likely to give in to cravings if they are feeling overwhelmed. It is important for individuals to develop emotional regulation skills so that they can manage their negative emotions in a healthy way. Practicing relaxation techniques, such as deep breathing, can help minimize the urge to self-medicate with substances. Taking time to process and express negative emotions can help people stay on track toward recovery.

7. Peer Pressure

Being around individuals who engage in substance abuse can increase the risk of relapse. This is because peer pressure plays a vital role in influencing individuals to indulge in such activities. It can be incredibly difficult to stay away from substances when surrounded by peers who are abusing them. Being aware of this risk and avoiding such situations is paramount for individuals recovering from any form of substance abuse, as it can help to prevent any potential relapse.

8. Easy Access to Substances

Having easy access to substances such as drugs or alcohol can make it easier for someone recovering from addiction to relapse. This is why it is so important for those in recovery to avoid environments and situations which may provide them with access to these substances. Furthermore, having a strong support system of friends and family who understand the struggle is incredibly beneficial for those in recovery, as it provides them with an outlet to discuss their cravings and concerns. Access to substances can often be the factor that makes all the difference in the fight against addiction.

9. Lack of Coping Skills

Individuals in recovery may lack the necessary coping skills to deal with stress or negative emotions, placing them at greater risk of relapse. It is essential to provide individuals with the skills and resources to cope with negative thoughts and emotions in a healthy manner. Learning how to regulate emotions and manage stress is a key component of long-term recovery, as it gives individuals the ability to effectively handle triggers and difficult situations without turning to addictive behaviors.

10. Expectations

Having expectations that relapse is a natural part of recovery may lead to the individual being more lenient on themselves due to their belief that it’s okay to relapse. This makes it more likely that they will slip up, as they are not taking the necessary steps to ensure their full sobriety. It is important to understand that although relapse can occur, it does not mean that it must or should happen. With the right motivation and dedication, individuals in recovery can strive for and maintain sobriety over time.

Misconceptions About Relapse

Misconceptions about relapse can lead to misunderstandings and cause many to have a negative attitude toward it. A widely-held false belief is that relapse is a sign of personal weakness, which can lead to feelings of embarrassment and regret. However, it is a conventional part of the recovery process and can affect anyone, regardless of the amount of strength or resolve they have.

Additionally, people often think that relapse means recovery is not achievable; however, this is not the case, rather, it may just need more treatment and support. Many also view relapse as an event that only happens at the beginning of recovery, while in actuality, it can happen at any stage, even after long periods of sobriety. Additionally, some consider relapse as a single occurrence, yet it is often a cycle that can repeat multiple times before a person is able to stay sober.

In conclusion, relapse is not only relevant for individuals dealing with addiction, it can arise in diverse psychological and behavioral issues such as eating disorders, wagering, and despondency. By having an idea of the truth of relapse and dispelling the misconceptions, those in recovery can be better prepared to withstand difficulties and preserve their development in the healing process.

Relapse Prevention in Los Angeles

At Launch Centers, we understand the complex nature of addiction and mental health recovery, and we are dedicated to providing the support and resources needed to help individuals overcome their challenges. If you or someone you know is struggling with addiction or a mental health issue, we encourage you to reach out to us.

Our team of experienced professionals is here to help guide you through the recovery process, and we are committed to helping you achieve your goals and maintain lasting recovery. Whether you are seeking support for the first time or struggling with a relapse, Launch Centers is here to provide you with the care and compassion you need to overcome your challenges and begin a new chapter in your life.

About Our Founder

Jose Hernandez, for over a decade, has been involved in alcohol and addiction recovery helping people succeed in overcoming substance abuse and regaining control of their lives. He has experience in all aspects of the recovery world, from facilitating entry into treatment as an intervention specialist to counseling and case management at rehabilitation facilities. Jose has worked one-on-one with individuals as a sober companion and with groups as a resident counselor at addiction treatment centers and is certified by the California Association of Alcoholism and Drug Abuse Counselors (CAADAC) to practice as a substance abuse counselor.

Through his professional experiences in crisis intervention, drug and alcohol detoxification, substance abuse counseling, and relapse prevention, Jose has developed a unique plan for case management that bridges the gap between a person’s painful past of substance abuse and a future of sobriety.

At Riviera Recovery, a sober living facility with multiple locations, clients continue their transition from the supportive environment of a treatment center to living well and happily in the “real” world. The program he designed at Riviera Recovery personalizes treatment plans that enable clients, including those with a single or dual-diagnosed mental health disorder, to embrace a satisfying life.

His greatest endeavor has been establishing LAUNCH, a Los Angeles-based life skills intensive outpatient program for young adults. LAUNCH works with recovering men and women to establish personal vocational and educational goals and develop the tools to successfully meet them. His mission is to ensure that no one stands alone in his or her recovery.

Meet Our Clinical Team

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Jess Beck, LCSW

Clinical Director

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Eric Chaghouri, MD


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Chloe Kruskol, LCSW

Family Program Manager

Our Testimonials

Clients and Professionals Share Their Experience

  • HO

    Launch provided care on multiple levels. The highly skilled therapist coupled with the focus on purpose and long-term goals refocused my recovery from what previous treatment centers pushed onto me. I went from believing that I needed years of treatment to believing I needed years happiness and success. I began to focus on what I wanted to accomplish with my life. I came to realize all the things my addiction and mental illness had taken from me, and I used my future goals as a reason to never pick up again. Due to the passion that Launch instilled in me, I have pursued my future with excitement and dedication.

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    This place changed my life! I’ve had good laughs, good cries, shared a lot of heart to heart moments and grew a loving bond with everyone at Launch Centers. I will always be grateful!!! I really do miss it time to time. I highly recommend Launch Centers!

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  • Ben

    This treatment facility has changed my life. I have always struggled with my mental health and this young adult program provided me with the necessary skills to launch to adulthood. I commend anyone who struggles with mental health or substance use (which was not me) to try this program out. It will change your life.

  • Conner

    Launch Centers Treatment was a major help to me. The therapists and staff genuinely cared about me and truly helped me to make a plan for my future. My personal therapists helped me to discover where some of my deeper issues came from. All of the staff worked tirelessly with me to talk through my issues, or just about life, and offered realistic solutions to my current problems and situation. All of the staff went above and beyond and advocated relentlessly for me. I am very grateful that I was able to have such a wonderful experience with Launch.

  • Adam

    In no uncertain terms Launch Centers changed my life. The staff at Launch are professional, knowledgable and relatable. They keep the format diverse and interesting which kept me engaged in the process. The greatest thing we can do in life is seek to improve ourselves. Launch gave me a skill set I consider to be invaluable in the journey of becoming the best version of myself. I would implore anybody considering Launch to step outside their comfort zone and go, you will not regret it.


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