What is a relapse? If I have an addiction relapse, do I need to go back to treatment?

Treatment for addiction is very important. The right treatment can make the difference between overcoming an addiction and failing to do so. In some cases, multiple efforts at treatment may be necessary. This is because it can take several tries to unlearn destructive habits and patterns. A single effort at rehabilitation may not be enough to erase years or even decades of destructive habits. Some people may also take longer to overcome addictive behavior because of other factors such as a pre-existing medical conditions or uncontrollable forces and prior commitments such as childcare and job duties, which make it difficult to focus on the process of recovery.

People may have what is known as an addiction relapse. An addiction relapse is when a person resorts to their old habits and patterns. Someone who has coped with alcoholism may find himself or herself relapsing into prior patterns of hoarding alcohol and drinking alone or binge drinking in social situations. Someone who has struggled with drug addiction may find himself or herself using drugs again even after they have completed the initial course of treatment and left the treatment facility.

This kind of behavior is not uncommon. Many people will have addiction relapses. They may need to complete more than one effort at treatment and at truly confronting their addictions and changing their behaviors. This is true for people of all age groups and all socioeconomic backgrounds, as well as both genders.

The effort at rehab can be an arduous one, often requiring an entire examination of the person’s entire approach to life. It may require one to adopt completely new patterns of living and ways of coping with problems. This is a hard task and one that may take a long period of time to fully confront.

Whether or not someone will need to go back to treatment depends on a variety of factors, such as any prior efforts at rehab, the person’s age and the extent of their addiction relapse. Many relapses are fairly minor. Drinking a single beverage will not necessarily mean that a person needs to immediately head back to a treatment center. However, if the person engages in a serious bout of drinking, one where he or she experiences a blackout or other serious physical effect, then an additional effort at treatment is a rational decision.

Other factors also depend on the person’s age and their prior efforts attending rehab. In some instances, it may be clear that a short course of treatment has not been effective. The person may have attended a few outpatient classes and worked on a few counterproductive habits, but this kind of course may not be sufficient to help them overcome their basic problem. In that case, experts often recommend that people return to a more supervised setting. The patient may need a serious course of inpatient treatment where they can get the more intensive help that is necessary to emerge sober and functional in their world.

A young person may be particularly vulnerable to having a relapse. Many young people need multiple attempts to develop the kind of judgment necessary to overcome addictive behaviors, and emerging empowered to be free of addiction.

In all cases of suspected addiction relapse, the individual should consult with a medical professional. The professional can direct their attention to the resources necessary to find additional help as needed.

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