What Happens if I Relapse in Addiction Treatment?

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Relapse is common for those struggling with addictions to drugs and alcohol. Relapse can occur at a rate of 40-60% for those in recovery. Relapse is not a sign of failure or weakness for the person going through recovery. Recovery is the process of changing habits that have occurred for long periods of time. Your brain has changed the way you process emotions and information due to the effects of different chemicals you may have taken. Your body is also affected in functioning, as addiction affects the whole-self. You may find during recovery and the initial stages of detox that you struggle with sleep, appetite, digestion, and emotions. Going back to drinking or using drugs may seem like an easy fix to these problems. You may also wonder if recovery is worth the effort when going through withdrawal. Remember that these uncomfortable feelings do not last forever! These symptoms will take time, but you will heal. However, some people relapse while in a treatment center. What happens following this depends upon the rules of the facility.

Treatment Facility’s Policies on Relapse

Some treatment facilities have strict no-tolerance relapse policies. In other words, you will be asked to leave the facility immediately for drinking or using drugs while under the care of the facility. Some facilities provide regular drug testing or breathalyzers to help keep clients accountable for their treatment. If you use substances or drink while away from or on the facility grounds at any point during your treatment you may risk discharging from your treatment program prematurely. Facilities may vary in this policy. Some believe that the “tough love” approach to relapse is helpful to those in recovery. Some facilities, however, believe that clients who relapse can deserve a second chance. These facilities do not have a hardline policy towards relapse. They take things on a case by case basis.

Case By Case Relapse Policy

Relapse is common for those in recovery and many facilities understand that clients may make mistakes while in treatment. When a facility has a “case-by-case” policy for relapse, they consider multiple factors that have led to the relapse or the circumstances involved. These facilities do not have strict “no-tolerance relapse” policies. They evaluate each relapse when they occur. Clients may still be asked to leave the facility, however, they are at least given a chance to be heard about the circumstances surrounding their relapse. Others may be allowed to continue their stay in the facility, with the understanding that they need additional support and accountability to stay clean and sober during treatment. 

In this way, the treatment center is approaching relapse in an individualized manner. Not everyone responds to the “tough love” approach toward relapse. Some clients, however, do respond to this approach of needing hardline, strict consequences. When choosing a treatment center, you may want to ask about their policy towards relapse. If you respond best to very strict policies to hold you accountable to your behaviors, no-tolerance policies may help you best. However, if you do not respond well to strict policies and are new to recovery, you may respond best to a “case-by-case” approach.

When You Are Asked to Leave

Relapse during treatment can result in being discharged early from the treatment center, whether your treatment center abides by a  “no-tolerance” or “case-by-case” relapse policy. When you are asked to leave, what happens next? You may want to ask about this prior to your stay in a treatment center. Some facilities may leave you to figure things out for yourself following a relapse. Other facilities may work with you in coming up with solutions for your next steps. When you relapse, this is not a sign that you are a failure or that recovery is not for you. Relapse means you may need additional support and accountability. Relapse may also indicate that you have care needs that are beyond the facility’s capacities. For example, if you relapse due to mental health issues, such as hearing voices or being deeply depressed, you may need help from a psychiatric center or hospital first. Recovery means looking at your whole-self and sometimes recovery centers may not be adequately staffed to support certain underlying conditions. While being asked to leave may seem harsh, you may be referred to or discharged to a facility that can better care for your needs.

Remember that relapse is not a sign of failure. Relapse is common during the recovery process, as your mind and body need time to heal from long-term afflictions. Recovery is a journey that takes time, patience, and understanding. If you relapse during your treatment, remember that this does not mean recovery is not possible for you. There is hope and you may need to address other issues first before moving forward in recovery.

Relapse during treatment may result in being asked to leave your treatment facility. Some treatment centers have very strict policies regarding relapse, to which some people may need to hold themselves accountable. Other treatment centers believe that relapse policies should be considered on a case-by-case basis, as some people may deserve a second chance. When looking for a treatment center, you know best which type of policy will best suit your needs. Everlast Recovery Centers believes that relapse is part of the recovery process. We teach our clients relapse prevention skills and do our best to help you avoid relapse. However, relapse is common and we believe that depending upon the circumstances, our clients may deserve a second chance. When we do ask clients to leave, we work with them on discharge planning and may help them find another treatment option to better suit their needs. Call us today at 866-DETOX-25 to help you or a loved struggling with addiction.

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