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For as turbulent and spirit-crushing as your addiction was, relapse is worse. Whether you haven’t relapsed, but you live with incessant fear of one happening, or you just relapsed, and you’ve discovered a new, deeper, darker rock bottom – truly, the feeling is all the same.

When a relapse occurs, the shame that floods your heart and soul is unbearable. The embarrassment you feel is equivalent to chronic anxiety. And just like that, you feel you’ve failed your family, friends, recovery mentors, and – above all – yourself.

But have you? Does relapsing mean treatment has failed?

Before we go any further, you must know that you have not failed, and your efforts in recovery were not a waste of time, money and energy.

The Stigma of Relapse Does Not Declare Your Success or Failure

There is a sincere stigma that is tightly wound around addiction and relapse. It can be near impossible for someone who isn’t an addict or doesn’t have an addicted loved one in their life to completely wrap their mind around addiction. This is where the stigma lives.

For individuals who don’t know your disease and how vigorously you’ve tried to get clean, they can judge, criticize and belittle you. If you relapse, they can be quick to condemn. But what they don’t know is that it’s far more common for recovering addicts to relapse after treatment than it is for them to stay sober.

Studies show that about half of all individuals who try to get sober return to their substance again. In fact, 70 to 90 percent of recovering addicts experience at least one mild to moderate relapse before they are able to remain sober for any extended period of time.

Ultimately, what others think and say should not decide whether you’ve passed or failed treatment. You will always feel more successful when you choose to listen to yourself rather than absorb the frequencies of those around you.

Why Relapse Isn’t a Sign of Failure

As you know all too well, your addiction has fundamentally rewired your brain. Even after recovery and in sobriety, you think differently.

You must remain on your toes, as an addiction trigger can appear at any time. You must be careful as to who you surround yourself with and the environments you choose to linger in. You must be ready to disarm your demon at a moment’s notice.

Sound easy? We know it’s not. We know how hard you worked in treatment and we know how badly you want to remain sober.

Addiction is a chronic disease that you have found yourself in the throes of. So, stigma, no stigma – statistically speaking, there’s a good chance you will fall down and relapse. You will hit lows and bumps in the road.

Instead of asking: Does relapsing mean treatment has failed?, the more important question is: How quickly will you pick yourself back up and keep fighting for your sobriety?

Your tenacity is the true sign that you and your treatment have not failed.

Reasons Why Relapse Does Not Mean You’ve Failed

You Successfully Completed Rehab

Without question, you have made reckless decisions that were directed by your emotions and your relentless need for your drug of choice and that euphoric high. And, you can probably admit that the choices you’ve made thus far have not all been meticulously planned or well thought out.

But, even if you are reading this post-relapse, you know in your heart of hearts that with the one decision that mattered most, the one decision that profoundly changed the trajectory of your life forever – the decision to commit to rehab or not – you chose right.

Do you know how much of a rarity you are?

Of the approximately 22.5 million Americans who struggle with substance abuse, only 2.6 million pursue addiction treatment.

Hard work and progress never equal failure. Never forget how far you’ve come and how much life you have yet to live.

The Majority Who Enter Rehab Will Relapse at Some Point

As noted above, the vast majority of recovering addicts experience a relapse.

Why relapse occurs is different for every individual, but the important thing to remember is that relapse is actually very common.

Some main reasons why relapse occurs is because:

  • Every individual is on a different journey and, therefore, lead a different lifestyle, have different challenges, contend with different triggers and make different choices.
  • An undiagnosed or untreated co-occurring mental health disorder is present and is damaging the progress made toward the sobriety.
  • Some addiction treatment programs don’t always place an emphasis on relapse prevention techniques.

Nothing can completely prevent relapse except for the addict themselves. If you find yourself in the majority and using again – take heart. Collect yourself and tap into what your learned in treatment. Understand why you relapsed and formulate a plan to move forward.

Use your relapse as a learning opportunity and get back on track with recovery and sobriety.

Treatment is Not Defined by Perfection. It’s Defined by Persistence

As a human, you’re imperfect and bound to make countless mistakes in life. This is true for every individual, whether they have an addiction or not.

Through treatment and into sobriety, you must welcome this truth and accept yourself even at your lowest.

If you relapse, you must embrace the letdown. But this does not mean you have failed. It simply means you can accept the fact that there are challenges in life that will test you, and you will not succeed at all of them – and that’s ok.

The goal of recovery and sobriety is not perfection, it’s persistence.

Life-Changing Addiction Treatment and Relapse Prevention at Covenant Hills

While relapse may be common, where you seek addiction rehab support can be the difference between sobriety and experiencing a relapse. When you find the right recovery facility that is focused on healing your entire being – your mind, body and soul – you will be better prepared to avoid triggers and prevent relapse.

At Covenant Hills, we take a Whole Person Approach to drug and alcohol rehab. We work with every aspect of an individual to ensure complete care and healing. Additionally, we offer our Recovery Assurance Guarantee where you can come back for a free week of stabilization if you relapse for any reason. We can’t cure your addiction, but we can arm you with the tools needed to help get you back on track and prevent relapse.

Learn about our Christian-based addiction treatment programs, or contact us for a free and confidential assessment.


Psychology Today. Why Relapse Isn’t a Sign of Failure. Accessed September 17, 2018.

The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA). Receipt of Services for Behavioral Health Problems: Results from the 2014 National Survey on Drug Use and Health. Accessed September 17, 2018.