Recovering from drug or alcohol addiction is a huge feat that any addict should commend themselves for overcoming. But with recovery comes the ever-looming fear of suffering relapse—becoming trapped in addiction again after struggling to break free.

In therapy and recovery programs, patients are usually taught to adopt more healthy habits and lifestyles. This is because relapse is always a possibility—with relapse rates in substance use disorder estimated to range from 40% to 60%. To prevent this, counselors may stress certain habits to help avoid relapse as much as possible.

Relapse, however, is usually not apparent to former addicts; it can sneak up on them without warning and hit harder than before. But there are signs to watch out for, and sometimes certain activities or events can trigger it.

Struggles in Personal Life

Stress has always been a common reason for addicts to turn to drugs or alcohol. But it can just as easily trigger relapse in a former addict.

Enrolling into rehab puts life at a halt, allowing for a chance to relax while also breaking bad habits. Once a person leaves and goes back into their daily routine however, past stressors can return and prompt the need for relief through drugs or alcohol once again.

There are a number of methods and practices that can reduce stress as little as possible. Some professionals recommend not dating during the first year of recovery, as well as breaking off any toxic friendships. Drinking buddies or people who do not support your sober living are among these toxic relationships. You may also even need to reconsider your job depending on how much stress it brings to your life.

Dwelling on Past Experiences

Remaining stuck in the past is another potential trigger to relapse. Perhaps you spend a lot of time thinking about your past addiction, about how it changed your life or even begin to miss positive experiences you had due to it. Maybe you miss time spent with drinking or smoking buddies and begin to long for old times again.

This is why you should avoid or even break off from friends who encourage substance abuse. Staying in these unhealthy social circles can trigger a relapse, and only make you long for a return to a life of addiction.

By romanticizing past addiction, setting up temptation with old friends, or simply dwelling on the past, this can plant the seeds of relapse. Rather than dwelling on the past, consider focusing on building up a better future.


An often neglected sign of relapse is a former addict’s tendency to isolate themselves. After being released from rehab, you may start to distance yourself from family or friends. While it is a good idea to have space and time to breathe, distancing yourself means separating yourself from a good support system.

People who tend to loiter in loneliness may also begin to romanticize substance abuse and fall back into addiction. While you shouldn’t force social interaction, considering a counselor, therapist, or support group can help keep you in check and avoid this problem.

There are many who have gone through similar experiences or understand the plights of drug and alcohol addicts. Seeking emotional support can help shoulder you through difficult times and find the strength to push past relapse.

If you or a loved one is struggling with drug or alcohol addiction, contact a local Treatment & Rehab alternative in Tennessee. You might be interested in Discovery Place’s own treatment center alternatives, such as our 30 Day Residential Addiction Recovery Program or our Long Term Recovery Program in Burns, Tennessee. Call us for a free consultation at 1-800-725-0922.


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