By BrightView
Published: September 11, 2023
Updated: February 21, 2024

You Can Prevent a Return to Substance or Alcohol Use

Protecting yourself from a return to substance or alcohol use is one of the first things a patient learns in treatment. This is because it is an all-too-common symptom of the disease known as addiction.

Research shows up to 60 percent of people in treatment will relapse. However, understanding the key factors that can cause a return to substance or alcohol use can help you avoid it.

Counselors Guide You

Counselors assess patients when they begin treatment to identify what triggers their use disorder and how likely they will be exposed to these triggers. This allows them to build a treatment program specific to each patient’s challenges and needs.

Counseling gives you new coping mechanisms that don’t involve substance or alcohol use. You learn how to recognize and avoid their triggers and how to replace the bad habits or feelings associated with them.

Patients must be active participants in their recovery since their counselors can’t be with them 24/7. So here are the top three factors to look for that signal you’re risking a return to a substance use disorder (SUD) or alcohol use disorder (AUD).

  1. Experiencing a Life-Changing, Stressful Event

The impact of someone’s SUD/AUD doesn’t necessarily stop when recovery begins. Losing a job, falling behind on bills, getting evicted – these are just a few of the stressful events that can confront patients as they work on a new life.

Stressful events upset the consistency in your life and threaten your stability. This can make you feel like life is out of control. You’re now expected to manage and process these events without drugs or alcohol. So having a plan in place for when the unexpected happens is critical.

Up to 60% of SUD patients will relapse according to the NIDA

  1. Keeping the Same Company

The people in a patient’s life can expose them to drug or alcohol use. Even their living arrangements might prove triggering. To avoid this, many patients cut these people out of their lives.

This can cause isolation and loneliness. If you find yourself spending time with people who can trigger your use of drugs or alcohol, you are risking a return to use. If your living arrangements put you in harm’s way, work with your counselor and case manager to find alternative options.

  1. Participating Less in a Treatment Program

While recovery finds patients experiencing a range of emotions, you might not assume overconfidence is one of them. Patients can assume they have everything under control and participate less in their treatment program as a result.

This may seem ironic considering the progress you’re making with a program leads to these assumptions. But consider the milestones you reach early in recovery.

  • Freedom: No longer having to plan your life around drugs or alcohol comes with newfound freedom and even free time.
  • Disposable Income: Without spending money on drugs or alcohol, you will have more disposable income.
  • Clear Thinking: Without drugs or alcohol to cloud your thinking, you’ll have clear thoughts for the first time in recent memory.

Three of the riskiest words spoken in recovery are, “I’ve got this”. Slowly dipping out of recovery meetings, support groups, or any medical and behavioral health appointments makes you more likely to return to drug or alcohol use. Putting the work in and sticking to a program will ensure things keep working for you.

Remember the goal is progress…not perfection.

Every path to recovery has bumps in it and is different. A return to use while in recovery is not uncommon. But it’s also not inevitable. Regardless of whether you experience a return to use or not, remember the goal is progress…not perfection.

Find Your Path to Recovery with BrightView

If you or someone you know is currently dealing with a substance use disorder, BrightView can help you start on the road to recovery. Addiction is a chronic disease, and recovery is possible with the right treatment and support.

Learn more about our proven outpatient treatment program and how our comprehensive approach to treatment helps people change their lives. Contact us today at 833-510-4357 or schedule an appointment at one of our treatment centers.