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Addiction, similar to other illnesses or diseases, can see a relapse. Regardless of sobriety length or type of addiction, relapsing is a common experience faced by recovering addicts and emphasizes the need for addiction to be treated as any other illness.

A relapse in addiction is the recurrence of substance abuse or behavior after a period of nonuse –known as sobriety. According to the National Institute of Drug Abuse, approximately 40 to 60 percent of people treated for substance abuse experience a relapse at some point in their recovery.

A relapse can be caused by a variety of situations. Not only can physical triggers, such as a change in medication or an accident, lead to a relapse but also the social environment a person is surrounded by. Because of this, addiction treatment needs to be all-encompassing.

Despite any negative emotions or reactions felt toward a relapse, a relapse is not a sign of failure in recovery but rather a sign of treatment needing to be adjusted for the addict’s success in sobriety.

Moving forward from a relapse can be incredibly difficult as the experience can be demoralizing and isolating. The re-introduction of the substance abuse or behavior may make the efforts toward long-term sobriety even more challenging initially. However, relapse provides a unique opportunity to reassess treatment and learn from any setbacks experienced in recovery.

If you know someone who has struggled with a relapse, it is important to remember that their addiction is not them. That a relapse in their recovery does not take away from the efforts made toward sobriety.

If you are someone who currently is or has struggled with a relapse in the past, it is necessary to continue engaged treatment and consult a professional on maintaining your path in recovery.