Following through with the decision to get substance abuse treatment in New Jersey just may save your life or the life of a loved one. But what happens after you leave that NJ rehab and re-enter the world? What’s the secret to avoiding relapse and succumbing to addiction again?

This Achieve Wellness and Recovery article takes a deep dive into what it takes to avoid relapse and falling victim to drugs and alcohol again. 

What is a Relapse?

Relapse. Slip. Setback. Recurrence of use. In recovery-speak, all of these terms mean the same thing essentially. When a person gets substance abuse treatment in NJ, or anywhere else and commits sobriety, there are no guarantees. 

Sometimes, even people who’ve received good addiction care and have the best of intentions make a mistake and pick up alcohol or drugs again. They say relapse isn’t a requirement — and that’s true. However, it is a part of the recovery journey people for many people. 

That said — you are not defenseless against relapse. There are lots of things you can do to substantially improve your odds of remaining sober and building long-term sobriety. You will find many of them in this article. 

Why Do People Relapse?

This is a big question without a simple answer, unfortunately. The causes of relapse vary from person to person — but what we do know is that there are certain constants. A slip or relapse into using or drinking again rarely happens for one simple reason. It’s usually a combination of factors that leads someone to pick up a drink or a drug after a period of sobriety. 

Emotional Turmoil in Early Recovery 

Strong emotions are frequently a factor in a recurrence of drug or alcohol use. People in early recovery often have a particularly hard time managing their emotions and controlling impulses. When the haze of drugs and alcohol is cleared, our emotions tend to return with a vengeance. Many people feel intense emotions for the first time in years. This sometimes leads to an impulse to drink or use when confronted with uncomfortable feelings.

Financial or Work Problems

When people complete an NJ addiction treatment program they often return to a life that’s still in disarray. Just because the substance is removed, doesn’t mean all of the damage done by addiction disappears. Financial problems or trouble at work or finding a new job can be an obstacle for many in early sobriety and sometimes the stress may lead to impulsively seeking out alcohol or drugs in an attempt to relieve stress. 

Family or Romantic Relationship Issues

After completing drug detox and rehab and beginning a program of recovery, a newly recovering person may encounter relationship difficulties. They may have fences to mend, trust to regain, and amends to make. Romantic relationships can also be a bit of a minefield in early recovery due to heightened emotions, old habits, or getting involved with someone else in early recovery who relapses. There is a good reason why it’s often recommended that newcomers avoid romantic entanglements for the first year of sobriety. 

Some factors that often contribute to relapse include:

  • Powerful emotions and difficulty managing them. 
  • Life challenges in early recovery, such as money or job problems. 
  • Relationship challenges

What’s the Secret to Avoiding a Relapse?

The reality is there’s no code to crack here. The real secret to avoiding relapse is to follow suggestions and immerse yourself in a program of recovery. Just because you completed a NJ PHP/IOP treatment does not mean you’re invulnerable to relapse. We must recognize that the training wheels need to stay on for a while. You might consider medication-assisted treatment, especially if you’ve been to treatment several times and have had a hard time putting more than a year together. 

The secret to avoiding relapse is to take advantage of any offers of help that come your way. Follow an aftercare plan. Attend outpatient therapy, if you can.  Find a fellowship that is a good fit for you and get in the middle — get involved, volunteer to make coffee, and gather chairs at the end of the meeting.

Connecting to other people who are serious about recovery and opening up to them is essential here too. That’s how recovery works. It’s one person helping another. If you’re going to meetings, but sitting in the back, talking to no one, don’t have a sponsor and you leave early to smoke or vape — you’re sabotaging your own recovery. 

The secret to avoiding relapse is:

  • Recognize that you need to follow instructions instead of doing things “your way”.
  • Accept all the help you can get, outpatient therapy, medication management, etc. 
  • Meaningful connections with others in recovery for support and accountability. 
  • Become willing to consider tools like MAT which may help you reach your goals.

Do Relapse Prevention Plans Really Work?

Many drug and alcohol treatment centers in New Jersey and other parts of the country offer relapse prevention plans. You might consider them the road map or blueprints for your newly minted recovery. Relapse prevention plans can absolutely be an effective tool in helping to safeguard your sobriety. 

The key is understanding that recovery is complex. No single element can make anyone invulnerable to relapse. A relapse prevention plan’s effectiveness depends on how well someone complies with it. It’s not enough to have a plan — you have to execute it with all seriousness. It’s also important to remember that the relapse prevention plan is just one part of your strategy. 

The Relapse Begins Before You Ever Pick Up

You may have heard this saying in the rooms of recovery. If not, you will sooner or later. What it means is that relapses are rarely spontaneous. There are almost always signs or conditions that precede a relapse. Avoiding relapse becomes easier if you know what those pre-conditions are and prevent them from occurring in the first place — or at least handle them better.

One of the cornerstones of recovery is honesty. A person who starts telling white lies and moves into the less harmless variety is in trouble. Someone who never becomes honest in their recovery, to begin with, is at much greater risk of relapse than someone who has embraced honesty. 

Signs and conditions that can be a prelude to relapse include:

  • Dishonesty, which may begin with ‘white lies’ but soon devolves into worse.
  • Hanging out with people who use or drink, even if you’re sober.
  • Spending time in places where alcohol or drugs are used. 
  • Becoming resentful, bitter, jealous, or especially angry toward others.

To Avoid Relapse: Talk to Someone 

As we mentioned earlier, relapse is often a part of recovery — but it is NOT a requirement or a foregone conclusion. If you feel yourself beginning to slip in your program or you see someone else in trouble — talk to someone about it. Staying quiet when trouble’s afoot helps no one. Never feel ashamed to ask for help. If you feel ashamed or embarrassed — ask anyway. 

If you or someone you love is facing a struggle with addiction or mental health — Achieve Wellness and Recovery is here to help.  Achieve Wellness and Recovery is devoted to providing a safe place where people can heal and recover from addiction.

Give Achieve Wellness and Recovery a call at (833) 680-0142

You can also click here to find out how our program can work with your insurance.

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