Addiction Treatment: Important Things To Know About The Cycle Of Relapse & Recovery

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Unfortunately, many people suffer from the issues of addiction in their lifetimes. In fact, an estimated 20.7 million people per year need help with addiction treatment, which is a truly staggering number. Addiction comes in all shapes and forms, while treatment options vary also. 

Whether you’re dealing with addiction yourself or looking out for someone who is, there is so much to understand. In this article, you will learn about the cycle of relapse and recovery. Read on to get some tips and advice from professionals from within the field of recovery, relapse, and addiction treatment. 

What Is Addiction?

As mentioned, addiction comes in many shapes and forms. Someone could be addicted to anything from physical activity to a range of drugs. Some of the most common forms of addiction come from substances such as nicotine, alcohol, and stimulating drugs. 

With these addictions, the body and/or mind become dependent on these substances. This causes a person to act differently, think differently, and sometimes behave like a totally different person. Often, this is due to the substance’s grip on the body, creating a need to take, drink, or smoke more of it, and a willingness to do whatever it takes to get the next hit.


These addiction signs are often easy to see, as they can be clearly physical and emotional. However, when people are recovering they may also change. From sickness and physical changes to various relapse warning signs, there are plenty of issues during the phase of recovery, too. Knowing what to look for in your friend or family member during the recovery process is also essential. 

Recovery is considered the process of abstaining from whatever addictive substance or behavior has controlled a person. In many cases, people consider themselves in recovery for the rest of their lives. Often, medical help, counseling, or other kinds of group therapy are used to help people recover – more on that later.


Sadly, not all recovery goes smoothly. As mentioned, there are those who happen to relapse. A relapse is a slip back into previous behavior – whether that’s taking drugs, drinking, or participating in whichever activity has been deemed harmful. This, in itself, is part of the recovery process for many people. It does not need to happen to create a successful recovery period, but many people learn even more from a relapse. 

The Cycle

For many people, a cycle of recovery and relapse becomes the norm. Of course, this is not ideal, but it is something that needs to be monitored and managed. If you are concerned about someone you love, thinking they may have relapsed, just understand that this is normal. They can recover again, with help.

For many addicts, the cycle of relapse and recovery is caused by various triggers. Stress, for example, can be a huge factor in causing a relapse. Stress, emotion, or other painful experiences can lead a recovering addict back to damaging behaviors. 

What Can Help?

For starters, a solid support network is key for helping addicts avoid relapse. There are thousands of triggers that can make someone want to relapse. Having someone to call in those moments, whether that’s a sponsor from a treatment program or simply a trusted friend, these people can help remind recovering addicts that relapse isn’t the only route. Many relapses occur in those early on their recovery journey or those without strong support. 

Aside from the support of friends and family, there are many treatment options for recovering addicts. Addiction should be treated as a medical problem. So, just like when suffering from a disease or an illness, addicts should seek professional help. 

Types of Treatment

Recovery centers – often referred to simply as ‘rehab’ – are one of the best treatment options. These centers combine proven medical help, detox under supervision, and a mixture of therapies to help create a perfect environment for the early days of recovery. They can be quite costly depending on where they are and how long a patient stays.

If recovery centers are too expensive or not an option, then there are recovery groups across the world. Alcoholics Anonymous, for example, is a shining example of how people can help each other through recovery, relapse, and more. If you think someone needs free help, look for your nearest meetings of groups like AA.

Relapse is, then, part of the recovery cycle. However, with proper support, treatment, and knowledge, it can be quickly treated or avoided altogether. Seek advice from local groups or medical professionals if you or someone you love are dealing with a relapse.