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Should I Go Back To Rehab After a Relapse?

should I go back to rehab after a relapse

According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, between 40-60% of people who go to substance abuse treatment relapse at least once in their lives.[1] And many people in recovery relapse several times before achieving long-term sobriety. Relapse, although disheartening, does not make you a failure. Relapse also doesn’t mean treatment failed you. It simply means one of two things: you either stopped doing something you needed to do for your recovery, or your recovery plan needs to be altered a bit to cover all of your needs fully.

If you have relapsed, you may be wondering whether or not you should go back to rehab. Not everyone has to go back to rehab after a relapse, but it certainly can’t hurt. Going back to treatment, even if it is for a short, 12-day program, can separate you from substances long enough to get you back on your feet. But how do you know if your relapse warrants a trip back to rehab or if you can handle your recovery yourself? Sometimes, it isn’t easy to decide.

Dangers of Relapsing After Rehab

Substance abuse is very problematic for anyone who struggles with substance use disorder (SUD). Even if you intend only to use drugs once, you may find that your addiction takes hold immediately and encourages you to continue using drugs as you once did before getting sober.

The problem with this is once you’ve gone through detox and treatment and have spent some time sober, your tolerance to substances has decreased greatly. While in the past, you may have been able to take 3-5 pills at once, taking such a high dose after a period of sobriety can easily lead to an overdose. Abstinence lowers your tolerance, but you may not be thinking about your tolerance when you pick up drugs or alcohol again – you may just be thinking about getting high. As a result, relapsing after rehab puts you at a very high risk for overdose.[2]

Other potential dangers and consequences of relapse include:

  • Losing the trust of friends and family
  • Going broke due to irresponsible finances
  • Inability to maintain your job
  • Feelings of guilt, shame, and embarrassment
  • Recurrence of mental health symptoms like depression and anxiety

Without help, these problems may only continue to get worse. As a result, it is always a good idea to play it safe and go back to rehab after you experience a relapse. Further addiction treatment can help you evaluate your relapse, tweak your recovery plan, and provide you with the additional resources you need.

Evaluating Your Relapse and Treatment Needs

Not all relapses are equal. Some people relapse one time, ask for help, and sober up again. A brief relapse that happens once or even twice, may be referred to as a “lapse” or a “slip.” On the other hand, some people will relapse and be unable to stop for several days, weeks, or even months. These individuals may experience consequences at work, home, or school. They may also develop a physical dependence on drugs/alcohol once again. As a result, the longer and more severe a relapse is, the more important it becomes to go back to rehab for professional help. Remember, there is no shame in having to go to rehab two or more times.

Signs You Should Go Back to Rehab After a Relapse

Depending on the severity of your relapse and your current circumstances, returning to rehab may or may not be necessary. However, it is always encouraged because further treatment cannot hurt – it can only reinforce the coping skills you have already learned and introduce you to new ways to prevent a relapse in the future. If you are on the fence regarding whether or not another trip to rehab is right for you, consider the following.

  • Can you afford rehab and/or will your health insurance cover treatment? If so, there is no excuse to avoid treatment. Rehab is an opportunity to better yourself.
  • Are you fully committed to living a life without drugs and alcohol, and are you fully capable of doing the things you need to do to stay sober? If you aren’t sure, going back to rehab can help change your thinking and help you find the motivation to stay in recovery.
  • Do you need medical detox services? If you have been using drugs and alcohol for weeks or months during your relapse, you likely need a detox. Trying to detox on your own may be unsuccessful, warranting another trip to rehab.
  • Are you able to identify what caused your relapse? Many people question why they relapsed in the first place. They blame themselves and view themselves as a failure. If you aren’t sure of why you relapsed, going back to rehab can help you find the answer.
  • Was your relapse more than just a “slip”? Sometimes, with the right motivation and support, people in recovery can overcome a slip without professional help. However, if your drug or alcohol use has become habitual, you can definitely benefit from another round of treatment.

Lastly, if you’re unsure about going back to rehab, an addictions counselor can help you determine if rehab after relapse is right for you.

going back to rehab after a relapse

Get The Care You Need and Deserve

Woburn Wellness Addiction Treatment is a leader in the addiction treatment field, with proven success in facilitating long-term recovery. Our team of top clinical & medical experts specializes in treating addiction coupled with mental illness, ensuring that each person receives individualized care. Call us – we’re available 24/day, 7 days/week.

Get The Help You Need Today

After a relapse, it isn’t always easy to determine whether or not you need to go back to rehab. Oftentimes, if your mind is clouded by the effects of drugs and alcohol, it is impossible to know exactly what you need. Instead of making the decision alone, the best thing to do after relapsing is to call a trusted friend or addiction professional for guidance.

Here at Woburn Wellness Addiction Treatment, we recognize addiction for what it is: a disease of the mind, body, and spirit. We won’t judge you for relapsing, and we won’t shame you, either. We will welcome you into our facility with compassionate, loving arms.

If you’re considering going back to substance abuse treatment after a relapse, we can help you decide which level of care is right for you. Contact us today to get started.


Inessa Maloney, MS, LMHC
Clinical Director

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