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What Causes Relapse?

Written by O'Connor Professional Group
Published on January 4, 2021

Relapse is described in two opposing ways. First, relapse is described as an episode. Many people have recounted that their relapse happened in a flash, that they didn’t even have time to think, that they didn’t even want to relapse, but that it just happened. Second, relapse is described as process. Relapse is said to happen over time as thought processes and behavioral patterns change in such a way that the brain is triggered to crave drugs and alcohol. Many other people who have relapsed explain that they knew they “took a drink long before they took a drink” and watched the whole process unfold.

One thing and one thing only truly causes a relapse: an individual making the decision to pick up a drink or a drug again. Whatever brings them to that decisive moment is part of the relapse journey they can learn from. In recovery we often hear terminology used like “took me out” or “I relapse over that every time”. Blaming a relapse on some external circumstance is easier to do. Certainly, external circumstances can have a substantial impact on our lives and strain our sobriety to a tipping point. From the earliest stages of recovery to having decades of sobriety, anything could inspire the thinking which leads to that potentially fatal decision.

Early recovery is a fragile period as you adjust to living sober. Recovery services like sober living, transitional programming, executive coaching, or therapeutic recovery companions are suggested to help make the transition back into life after treatment easier. Taking on too much stress or too much responsibility too soon can overwhelm the brain. Until sobriety, the brain relied on drugs and alcohol to cope with stress. With only a few months of sobriety under your belt, your brain isn’t yet fully trained to cope with stress without craving drugs and alcohol. Stress management is a critical part of the treatment, therapy, and recovery process for this reason. When the brain experiences too much stress without the support of proven stress management methods for recovery, it is prone to revert to old ways of thinking: drugs and alcohol will solve this.

Drugs and alcohol, or other harmful, self-defeating behaviors, are never the solution. There is a solution. At O’Connor Professional Group, we offer concierge behavioral health services which are custom curated into a treatment plan designed specifically for you and your needs. Your recovery is waiting. Start today by calling 617.910.3940

What Causes Relapse?

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