What Surprising Environmental Factors Can Influence a Relapse?

Relapse occurs when somebody who is in recovery for substance abuse decides to use drugs or alcohol again. Relapse is sometimes called a “slip” because once a substance is used again, the person in recovery can end up back in the same lifestyle they fought to leave. Not everyone experiences relapses, but they can happen to anyone for a variety of reasons.

When Do People “Slip”?

People can relapse during any time in their recovery. There is no magical number of months or years that will prevent someone from relapsing on drugs or alcohol. To prevent relapse, honesty is crucial.

Recovery can mean different things to different people. Anonymous support groups, medication and spiritual programs are just some of the ways that many people find helpful when getting off drugs or alcohol. Regardless of the method, a support network can help when fighting against a relapse.

What Causes A Relapse?

Commonly assumed relapse factors include:
-job loss
-death of a loved one
-serious illness

While all of these problems can trigger someone in recovery to relapse, there are several surprising factors that are also common. These include life changes that are positive in nature like weddings or promotions.

Good things can cause a person to relapse for multiple reasons.
1.) You don’t deserve what’s happening. Many people in recovery believe they do not deserve good things in their life. There may be guilt or shame still attached to the behavior that was demonstrated while on drugs or alcohol. People in recovery may also not believe that a good outcome will last. While using drugs or alcohol, getting used to a good situation may have been risky as it could always disappear just as fast as the next time a substance is used.

2.) The excitement doesn’t last. A job promotion or a wedding can come with an immense amount of excitement and enthusiasm. It might even mimic the types of feelings drugs or alcohol provided. When a particularly good event is over, the need for it to keep going can be similar to substance abuse. Rather than easing back into life before the positive change, relapse can seem like an option to keep the enthusiasm going.

3.) It isn’t enough. Sometimes people can experience disappointment at a monumental life event. If you have been building up your wedding day for dozens of years, when it finally gets here, it may not feel as great as you’d dreamed it would. This can be especially true if a positive life event happens early in recovery. Many people who have abused substances or alcohol for an extended period of time experience a drought in serotonin. It may take awhile to get back to feeling emotions the way they were originally felt.

Hanging Out With Friends

Seeing old friends can be a wonderful experience, but it can create enormous tension if they still use drugs or alcohol. This is especially difficult if these are friends you’ve known for a long time. Many old friends can feel like family and to cut them off completely can feel cruel and unjust.

Spending time with people who use substances will make it easier for most people in recovery to relapse. The proximity to the substance as well as the familiar situation can create nostalgia and temptation.

If you decide to continue to see old friends that still use substances, it’s wise to meet them in public. Having a strong support network can also help. By allowing someone in recovery to help hold you accountable, substance cravings may lessen over time.

New friends can encourage new behaviors. This may seem anxiety provoking at first, but it can lead to a much easier social life. By finding new ways to socialize, substance abuse cravings can diminish leaving replacement activities that are healthy and long-lasting. While some people may feel that it is more difficult to find friends as an adult, the recovery community is often ideal for this.


Relapse is a serious problem in substance abuse recovery. While some people are able to find their way back to recovery, others may stay in active addiction for years. By connecting to others and creating a specific recovery plan, the likelihood of relapse decreases. For more information, please call us at 772-266-5320.

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