What Are the Most Common Causes of Addiction Relapse?

What is a Relapse?

Recovery from drug and alcohol addiction is a lifelong process. When a person in recovery returns to using drugs or alcohol, this is called a relapse. Addiction is a powerful disease that affects both the mind and body.

Benefits of Outpatient Drug and Alcohol Treatment

Unfortunately relapse is part of addiction and occurs more often than not.

Is Relapse a Normal Part of Addiction?

Yes, relapse is unfortunately a normal part of addiction. Recovery from drug and alcohol addiction is a lifelong process that requires work and willingness to change. If an individual is unable to make their recovery a top priority, they may be susceptible to a relapse. People recovering from drug and alcohol addiction often have one or more relapses. While relapse may be a normal part of addiction, it can have fatal consequences. Individuals who relapse and are later able to achieve recovery from addiction are extremely fortunate. Many addicts never get a second chance. A relapse after a period of sobriety increases the likelihood of an accidental overdose. This brings up a commonly asked question, what are the most common causes of addiction relapse?


Stress is one of the main causes of addiction relapse. Most addicts have been self-medicating with drugs and alcohol. Learning to live life without the mind-altering effects of drugs and alcohol takes time. Experiencing everyday life stressors can be extremely overwhelming for someone in recovery, especially for someone in early recovery. It is important for a person in recovery to develop effective tools to deal with stress and reach out to others in the program for guidance and support.

People or Places Associated with Addiction

For an addict in recovery, seeing people or places associated with their addiction can be a trigger for relapse. It is highly recommended that people in recovery refrain from visiting people or places that were involved in their addiction. While it may seem comforting to frequent old hangouts with old friends, the temptation may be too much for someone in early recovery and may lead to the decision to relapse.

Negative or Difficult Emotions

Negative and difficult emotions are a normal part of life. For a person in early recovery, negative emotions can lead to relapse. Anger, loneliness, depression, anxiety and resentment are all negative emotions that can increase the likelihood of relapse. It is important for an individual in recovery to be able to effectively identify and manage these emotions. Romantic relationships can be extremely detrimental in early recovery due to potential overwhelming emotions involved. It is often suggested that people in early recovery refrain from romantic relationships. A romantic relationship should only begin once a person in recovery is able to effectively manage their emotions and expectations.


Not all relapses stem from negative situations. Celebrations and social gatherings where drugs and alcohol are present are one of the most common instances where relapse occurs. For people in early recovery, attending a social gathering where others are drinking or using drugs is often too much for them to handle. In situations where drugs and alcohol will be present it is highly suggested that a person in recovery bring a sober friend for additional support.

Concerned About Yourself or a Loved One?

Relapse is a normal part of addiction but can have fatal consequences. A period of sobriety results in the body becoming less tolerant of drugs and alcohol. If an addict chooses to engage in the same drinking and using they had prior to sobriety, the health risks may be severe and can result in death. Relapse is part of the disease of addiction and so is accidental overdoses and death. People in recovery should do anything within their power to avoid relapse, for they may not be fortunate enough to get a second chance. If you wish to learn more about our outpatient programs, drug counseling in general or about the disease of addiction, please do not hesitate to call us at (877)799-1985 or simply click on the banner below to visit our contact page. We are waiting to hear from you!

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What Are the Most Common Causes of Addiction Relapse?