May 16, 2008, Newsletter Issue #183: What is a Relapse?

Tip of the Week

A relapse is a recovering addict's return to the substance of choice -- or, more broadly, to any other substance that comes between a person and their reality. A craving is not a relapse unless the addict gives in and consumes the substance.

Some people who enter recovery for alcohol or another drug may be able to maintain abstinence from the first attempt. Others will suffer multiple relapses.

Addicts and those close to them may be tempted to see relapse as a sign of weakness or failure. Experts say relapse is a part of the disease of addiction, and point to it as a learning process that can eventually lead to recovery. At the same time, it is important to take steps to prevent relapse as far as possible. With each relapse, the addict runs the risk of physical damage, legal entanglements, and dangerous behavior.

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