Did you know that your brain is wired to repeat activities that it considers satisfying? The human body instinctively looks for pleasure. After years of repeating something, again and again, it is easy to fall back into that pattern at some point.
This is part of the reason that relapse is so common in drug abuse. Your body begins to rely on that substance and will cause strong cravings to use again.
If you’re coming out of rehab or have recently been sober, it can be hard to resist the urge to use. The good news is that one slip-up does not mean you’ve relapsed. You can still get your life back and avoid falling into the same old habits if you get help now.
Keep reading to learn more about the difference between lapse vs relapse, and how you can help someone who is struggling to stay sober.
What Is Relapse?
In addiction treatment, relapsing is when you regularly use drugs again after you have been sober for a time.
It is important to note that one slip-up is not a relapse. Just because you made a mistake and used once or twice does not mean that you’ve relapsed back into drug use. If you take the right steps you can stay sober.
According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, relapse does not mean that treatment has failed. Relapse is a common part of addiction.
While relapse is common in recovery, it can also be very dangerous and lead to overdose, specifically when a person returns to drug use after an extended period of sobriety.
People who relapse after an extended period of sobriety often find that their tolerance has weakened. That means that they are more at risk for overdose if they resume use with the same amount of the drug they used before.
Some people simply don’t recognize that using more of the drug after having stopped will have a greater effect. An overdose occurs when you take so much of a certain drug that you experience troublesome symptoms or even die.
When someone relapses, it can be a scary situation for both the person in recovery and his or her loved ones. It’s important to understand that relapse isn’t a failure of treatment – it’s an opportunity to learn what went wrong and address it.
That said, when relapse occurs, you need to take immediate action. Talk to a doctor or treatment professional right away, to figure out what happened and how you can prevent a relapse from happening in the future.
What Is a Lapse?
Many people assume that a slip or a lapse is just a part of a relapse, but in reality, there is a difference between the two. A lapse does not necessarily lead to a relapse.
A lapse is a temporary failure of memory or judgment. The keyword being temporary. To be a true relapse, you need to decide to fully return to regular drug use.
Recovering from alcoholism or drug addiction is not easy. It takes time, effort, and perseverance. However, having a lapse in recovery doesn’t mean you’re weak or that you’ve failed. As long as you learned something from the lapse and keep on moving forward, it will not define who you are.
What Happens If You Experience a Lapse or Relapse?
While many people experience a lapse or relapse at some point during recovery, not everyone does. Some people may just have a short lapse and get right back on track, and others may struggle more. It’s important to remember that everyone’s recovery experience is unique.
If you do experience a relapse or a lapse, look at it as a chance to find out what happened and what you can do in the future to prevent it from happening again. You may realize that there are warning behaviors and triggers that could be handled better with support or coping skills, to help you maintain positive changes and stay on track.
Understanding and managing cravings, developing a healthy lifestyle, learning coping strategies, and getting help when you need it can make a major difference and help you to stay focused on your goal to stay sober.
Also, always remember that you can reach out to get professional addiction support if you need help with relapse prevention on your road to addiction recovery.
Lapse vs. Relapse: How to Help a Loved One
There are some unfortunate misconceptions regarding relapse, so it’s important to know how to help a person in such a situation.
The first thing we want to stress is that it’s never too late to come back from a relapse. It is important for someone who has relapsed to realize that recovery is possible. They can still return to sobriety and become successful at it. The sooner someone can stop using again, the better chances they have at minimizing the damage.
When someone relapses, it is important to encourage them to get back into treatment and get help as soon as possible.
The goal after an addiction relapse is to get back on track. In order to achieve that, ignoring the situation and quickly blaming the person will not help. Instead, treat the person with compassion and remain non-judgmental.
Remember, addiction is a disease. You’re not alone if you or a loved one has relapsed. Be that person who encourages others to keep fighting and get help again. There will be lots of ups and downs along the way, but with determination, support, and a strong relapse action plan, your loved one can take control of their life again.
Get Help for a Relapse Today
If you or someone you love is experiencing a lapse or relapse, don’t wait until it’s too late to take action. Contact The Ohana today to learn more about lapse vs relapse and the best ways to prevent and treat relapse. Our trained addiction professionals can help get you back on track toward a successful long-term recovery.