Why do some people relapse after drug and alcohol treatment?

Why do some people relapse after drug and alcohol treatment? drug rehabilitation and alcohol rehabilitation

So many people ask that question. It’s a simple question with a somewhat complicated answer. There are so many factors to take into consideration when determining why an individual may relapse.

Did they quit abusing drugs or alcohol by themselves on their own or did they get counseling, therapy, support groups, treatment or rehabilitation for their addiction.


If there was counseling and treatment, was it the best treatment for their needs and addiction. Some people just aren’t ready to quit yet, and others quit but not for the right reasons.


An individual’s environment has a lot to do with relapsing also. After successfully stopping the substance abuse, if there are still problems and negativity where they live, work or hang out makes a big difference too. Problems with home-life or at the work place have to be dealt with in order to stay successful. Having supportive people around you in your home-life and social life is very important. Where a person socializes and who they socialized with during the time they were abusing alcohol or drugs most of the time, has to change. If the individual is ready and getting help for all the right reasons, making these changes is a lot easier.


In many cases, there are underlying reasons people turn to drug or alcohol use in the first place. This is not an excuse, but at least knowing why can make a difference in recovery. Many people suffer from depression and use drugs or alcohol to medicate themselves for the moment. Not realizing that these substances just make matters much worse. Depression and drug and alcohol abuse is such a frequent combination that there is an actual term for it, ‘Dual Diagnosis’. If the substance abuse stops but the depression isn’t dealt with, the chances of relapse are almost inevitable.


Sometimes there was past physical or emotional abuse, again not an excuse but an underlying problem that needs to be dealt with along with the addiction in order to have a successful recovery.


Alcohol, illegal drugs and prescription drugs are very addicting substances. Many times it takes more than just saying ‘No more’. Some people go years before relapsing. Alcohol or drug abuse at one time was their way of coping with a crisis and now that they are facing another one, they choose to cope the only way they know how.


The possibility for relapse holds true with everyone. With the right people around you, the right treatment program, professional counseling and a willingness to try, can make all the difference in the world in terms of recovery. Just remember to never give up and even if there is a relapse, never stop trying.

Post Discussion

  1. Addict

    I am a full time single dad that made a choice to stop for my son. Although i did make a brave choice i had no clue what i was about to go through. I did not seek help....i tried on my own and i can't give advice on rehab.... i can tell you if you without a doubt want to quit then please do. I will not get into the hell i went through i will just tell you about the sun rising with a new found look on life. I have been in the military for 12 years now and i had to start over from scratch. My family and friends were a big part of my success. if you have family or even friends to help you, please let them know. That's KEY!!! Doing this alone is not gonna help. No rehab advice or replacement drugs but just letting you know....YOUR NOT IN THIS ALONE. I'M TRYING TO GO ON EVERY SITE AND TELL EVERYONE OF MY STORY BECAUSE I CAN HONESTLY FEEL THAT PAIN YOU HAVE IN YOUR HEART. I WAS THERE. PLEASE WHATEVER YOU HAVE TO DO....STOP! FROM ME TO YOU ALL OUT THERE GOOD LUCK! BE STRONG! BE PATIENT! BE HAPPY AGAIN! HAPPY TRAILS!

  2. Addict

    Great article for those of us dealing with the fear/problem of relapse. I am a recovering heroin/cocaine addict of 15 years. In my experience, the single most important factor in avoiding relapse is the People, Places, and Things concept. I can not stress this idea enough! I was once in a situation with an old friend who said he stopped using, so I gave him a visit. Well, after about 15 minuets of catching up, he asked me if I would drive him to the "spot"" to get some heroin. He said he would give me two bags for my trouble. It took every bit of nerve in my body to say NO, and that I had to go. I thought I had a better grip on things then that. It scared the crap out of me!

    • Addict

      Thanks for the info Mike, really helps

  3. Addict

    my boyfriend has been in jail for the first time- before then, he was doing very well because he was at an inpatient rehab then a halfway house-he came home and his brother and parents are addicts and he relapsed. hes getting released and put on parole next week and every time he goes home, he relapses. I'm terrified whats going to happen. there's no way for him to go to a halfway house he has to pay restitution -he cant afford it. and i cant take him where i live. so i don't know what to do. he said hes strong enough but its going to be hard because hes surrounded by addicts at home.

  4. Addict

    Thanks for the article. I've seen many people leave treatment so convinced that they "Got it this time". Yet they never seem to really consider how much weight outside pressure has on them. I know for myself that the reason I drank and used was directly related to all these outside factors weighing on me in the first place. Treatment is such an easy place to feel safe and really get off the drugs, but as a recovering addict the weight of the world and everything that comes along with life was a big catalyst for me having a reason to go back to drinking and using.
    Many of the traditional treatment models of group therapy don't allow a person to get to the root causes that drives them to drink and use in the first place.
    Early childhood trauma or sexual trauma seem to play big roles, many of the people who go through treatment don't get a chance to address these before they go back out.

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