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A relapse is defined as a period of worsening that happens after a pattern of improvement. In treatment for substance abuse, relapse occurs when someone who is in recovery drinks or uses substances again. Consequently, one's relapse is not an indicator of failure, but it is a serious bump in the road to recovery. At the best rehab centres in India, programs are often designed to help people overcome all stages of addiction so that they can continue to live the sober life that was previously just a dream for them.

Relapse is like a bump in the road to recovery. It's more of an indication that you need to regroup, adapt and approach things from a different perspective than a total failure on your part. The very best substance abuse treatment programs available at the best de-addiction centres in India are designed to help you overcome all stages of addiction so you can move towards a healthy, sober life.

The key to relapse prevention is to understand that relapse happens gradually. Gorski has broken relapse into 11 phases. [1]

It begins weeks and sometimes months before an individual picks up a drink or drug. The goal of treatment is to help individuals recognize the early warning signs of relapse and to develop coping skills to prevent relapse early in the process when the chances of success are greatest. This has been shown to significantly reduce the risk of relapse. [2]

It is helpful to think in terms of three stages of relapse: emotional, mental, and physical. [3]

Stage One: Emotional Relapse

To avoid relapsing, maintain strong ties with the recovery community through an alumni program, and work on your recovery plan every day. One way to resist relapse is to turn back to self-care practices that enable you as someone in remission. Reaching out for support, setting personal boundaries, avoiding isolation, and not exposing yourself to triggers.

Stage Two: Mental Relapse

Those who ignore or do not recognize the warning signs of mental relapse may transition into a mental relapse as a result. In this stage, you are fighting a war of emotions. You know you don’t want to use drugs/alcohol again but have an increased desire to do so nevertheless. Warning signs include: reconnecting with old friends who used to be partiers prior to your sobriety; reminiscing about past drug and alcohol abuse without necessarily feeling any sort of guilt or shame; craving drugs/alcohol once again; minimizing or making excuses for past occurrences; trusting people in your life who may lean on substances heavily themselves.

Stage Three: Physical Relapse

Someone who enters stage three falls off his or her wagon in a bad way. They go from making progress to taking that first drink or popping the first pill, and it's all over from there. At this stage, it is imperative to get help from a rehab centre in India in stopping the cycle from repeating.

Is it possible to get back on track after a relapse?

When relapsing happens it hampers your chance of staying sober completely, which is why we recommend getting back into treatment at rehab in India as soon as possible. After all, nobody is perfect and methods for staying sober will often evolve over time. Often, the continued support that you can receive from an addiction recovery program at the best rehab centre in India or one-on-one counseling will help you become well equipped in order to deal with stressors and problems more effectively should they arise again in the future.

In general, the only way to not relapse is to continue striving towards your recovery goals every day. For example, by managing stress and staying healthy, surrounding yourself with positive people, working on your sobriety at meetings and keeping in touch with your sponsor and others in the community, and keeping triggers at bay.

Experience has shown that most relapses can be explained in terms of a few basic rules. Teaching clients these simple rules help them understand that recovery is not complicated or beyond their control. It is based on a few simple rules that are easy to remember: 1) change your life; 2) be completely honest; 3) ask for help; 4) practice self-care; and 5) don’t bend the rules. [4]

As someone in recovery, relapse is one thing that you must keep constantly in the back of your mind. You must also be willing to fight for it by continuously creating and nurturing healthy habits. Multiple times every day, every week, for the rest of your life. And if you need help creating and maintaining these healthy habits or want help stopping yourself from relapsing back into undesirable situations (because we all slip up at times sadly), visit resources available on

  1. 1. Gorski TT, Miller M. Counseling for Relapse Prevention. Independence, MO: Herald House/Independence Press; 1982.
  2. 2. Bennett GA, Withers J, Thomas PW, Higgins DS, Bailey J, Parry L. et al. A randomised trial of early warning signs relapse prevention training in the treatment of alcohol dependence. Addict Behav. 2005;30(6):1111–1124. DOI: 10.1016/j.addbeh.2004.10.008
  3. 3. Melemis SM. I Want to Change My Life: How to Overcome Anxiety, Depression, and Addiction. Toronto: Modern Therapies; 2010.
  4. 4. Melemis SM. Relapse Prevention and the Five Rules of Recovery. Yale J Biol Med. 2015;88(3):325-332. Published 2015 Sep 3.

AUTHOR- Dr. Niharika Singh (MBBS, MD Psychiatry, MIPS)

Dr. Niharika Singh received her MBBS degree from Kurukshetra University, following which she went on to complete MD Psychiatry from Rajiv Gandhi University of Health Sciences, Bangalore. During her residency program, she pursued her thesis on psychosocial factors and personality profiles of early and late-onset alcohol dependence syndrome. With a view to stay up-to-date with the latest developments in the field of mental health, she then continued to train regularly with premier institutes such as Harvard Medical School - McLean Hospital (USA) in Mind-Body Medicine, Beck Institute (USA) in Cognitive Behavior Therapy, NIMHANS (Bangalore) in Addiction Psychiatry, Behaviour Medicine, Clinical Neurophysiology and Non-Invasive Brain Stimulation and has completed Fellowship in Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation from Duke University (USA). After post-graduation, she decided to pursue her passion for writing and has a mission to inform the public about addiction issues. Her primary goal is to help those in need of treatment find the best option for them.

REVIEWED BY- Gauri Kapoor (Addiction Recovery Counselor)

Gauri Kapoor embarked on her journey into sobriety 7 years ago, which led her to her current career path as a Certified Professional Addiction Recovery Coach in Delhi, India. She works closely with facilities that provide residential addiction treatment such as 12-Step programs and other nonprofits to help individuals deal with their addiction.

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