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Top Reasons People Relapse in Long Term Recovery

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Top Reasons People Relapse in Long Term Recovery

Yeah! You admitted you had a problem, you sought help and went through treatment. You’re probably thinking: I am never having a beer again. Or you might be thinking: I am not touching a single pill ever. I get it, and I think it’s awesome that you’re disciplining yourself and teaching yourself a better lifestyle. You’re fully aware of what happens when you relapse, as you’ve probably had your fair share of them already. Now that you’re in recovery and living a better lifestyle, your ambition to stay clean is secure. So now, years have gone by… you’re 1 year sober, then 5 years sober, then comes 15 years sober and you’re still rockin’ it. But the feeling of what if’s come back. You experienced your relapses and grew out of them, right? But maybe you’re going through a challenging time, or maybe you’re just bored. What’s one glass?

Top Reasons People Relapse

Lack of Support

You might have had a great support system in your early recovery, but it’s harder to stay connected as you get older. The friends you met at your meeting, your sponsor, or any friends you have could no longer be around. People move all the time, life happens and you lose friends in life. So now that you are older, and your friends from meetings aren’t around as much, it’s more likely for you to go down the wrong path again. Who’s going to stop you, anyways?

Revisiting Addiction

When we are in early recovery, we try our best to avoid any places that encouraged our addiction. We also dropped all the friends we had during addiction in return for sober friends. While this is a great idea in the beginning, over time triggers can change. You might feel okay going back to the places and connecting with those people again. You might think it’s going to be okay and you won’t be pressured to take a hit. But then you change your mind, as you talk about the old times with your old drug friends. They give you a laugh and smirk and offer some dope as a “one last goodbye”. And this time you think, it’s just one time.

Fallout From Support

When you’re in recovery, it’s best to dismiss your old friends and old life. But to some people, their old friends and old life is the only thing they have. If you don’t have any supportive friends, you’re going to be miserable after you make peace with your old friends. You’ll need some kind of support, or your recovery won’t make it as long as you’d hoped.


As you get older, you might experience different celebrations. Your daughter’s graduation, your son’s wedding, your first grandchild or the passing of someone close. Life events like this can include drinking and hanging out with others. This can cause a relapse because at the moment, you can either be really happy or really sad, and when others are drinking you might be inclined to have a beer with them.

The risk of relapse declines drastically after 5 years of sobriety.

The Dangers Relapse in Long Term Recovery

top reasons people relapse

  • Higher chance of overdose or poisoning

    After you’ve been sober for so long, your body adjusts to its clean slate again. When you relapse after a given time, your body isn’t used to it. Sometimes after having a long sobriety and relapsing, it results to poisoning or overdosing.

  • Less willing to go into recovery again

    If you’ve spent several years clean and accidentally had a slip up, you might get the feeling of giving up right then and there. Detox and treatment take a lot of dedication and power, and by relapsing, you could lose all the motivation to stay clean.

  • Recovery after relapse isn’t guaranteed

    After relapsing, you could end up dead. Relapsing is not something to take lightly, because you have people who love and support you. And by taking the chance to relapse again because you wanted your last hit with your friends, it’s not going to be worth it. You might not ever have a chance for recovery after relapsing.

  • The trust is gone

    If you’ve been in recovery for quite a while, it can come as a serious shock when your family/friends find out you relapsed. They might not be able to support you, or trust you again. It could take some time for them to fully put you in their life again.

Relapse is scary and can happen to anyone. There can be many reasons for a relapse, but these are the top reasons people relapse. We want to help in any way we can.

If you or someone you know is struggling, please call 855-737-7363. New Start can help you find the right recovery program for you. Call us for a free and confidential assessment and let us help you get back on track.

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