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When relapse happens: what to do

When relapse happens: what to do


A process of recovering from an addiction is never an easy process and, despite some obstacles on the way to recovery, they should not be seen as a defeat. Even if they are difficult to manage, the obstacles that arise and that give rise to a relapse should serve as a source of learningand be drivers of an even greater commitment in the future.

Thus, it is important to internalize that relapse can really be a reality but that, if it happens, there is a new path to follow. This path will imply a new mentality, new personal and professional support, and a new personalized treatment.

After all, what is relapse?

Relapse Therapy
© Pexels

Relapse is one of the main reasons most people seek treatment. When most people seek specialist help, they have already tried to stop on their own and go into recovery, so in the absence of success and sometimes even after several attempts, they tend to look for a solution – seeking treatment (which is in most cases times the last resort to be considered).

On the other hand, relapse is something that can happen after (apparently) successful treatment. It does not happen from one moment to the next, as some believe, but due to a set of accumulated factors that contribute to a relapse process.

Although the relapse process has different stages, all individuals during a treatment, after completion of treatment (even if successfully completed) or with a long recovery period, may experience an emotional and mental relapse during certain periods, not reaching a physical relapse. However, some are unable to “escape” and end up having a physical relapse.

Are there any signs of a possible relapse?

Yes, there are some signs that may indicate that a relapse may be imminent. Often the signs may not be immediately visible to outsiders and the recovering addict himself may choose to ignore them.

Relapse Process
© Polina Zimmerman/Pexels

A relapse process can show different signs of relapse, including:

  • Lack of clarity of thought, inability to deal with one’s feelings.
    • They can lead to feelings of shame, guilt and despair;
  • State of denial towards your thoughts and feelings;
  • Creating barriers or compulsive behaviors to ignore your own discomfort;
    • In some cases this is when depression sets in;
  • Loss of sense of reality and the real proportion of things and exacerbation of behaviors;
  • Total Relapse, also known as Physical Relapse

Although there is then a notion of relapse and return to addiction, it is still important that someone encourages a new search for professional help. The addict may come to admit the mistake, but it does not always mean that he seeks help again on his own initiative.

What is relapse treatment like?

Always personalized, treatments at VillaRamadas are supported by the Change & Grow therapeutic model. Through this model, relapse treatment seeks to establish a relapse prevention plan or to adapt a previous one to current circumstances, in order to prevent further relapses.

© Hannah Busing/Unsplash

As with any other treatment, a relapse can only be treated when the addict himself is motivated to change and to re-enter recovery, being open to making “cuts” with his past and setting new goals for the future. In addition, it is important to be open to creating new strategies to deal with potential situations that may trigger the desire to return to old habits.

At VillaRamadas, we encourage the search for new mechanisms to deal with addiction, but we also encourage regular post-treatment follow-up.

Relapse can happen after treatment, and cannot be seen as a shame, nor as a defeat for the addict. It should rather be seen as an opportunity for future improvement, and should be worked on with qualified professionals.

© Unsplash

If you feel that you may have or have had a relapse, or if you recognize someone who is not well, talk to us. At VillaRamadas we have specific treatments for cases of relapse. We can help you find new relapse prevention strategies!


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