What Happens if You Relapse in IOP: Managing a Relapse in Recovery

October 25, 2023

Addiction | Barbara Decker

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Key Takeaways

  • While recovering through an Intensive Outpatient Program (IOP), it’s possible to relapse. The setbacks in the way can help you adjust the recovery plans and come back stronger.
  • Call your treatment team immediately if you experience any setbacks. They can provide emotional support and tailor your treatment plan to your needs.
  • You won’t typically be kicked out or punished for relapsing. On the contrary, your treatment plan can be modified to suit you better and avoid other setbacks.

Having a relapse is a complex and emotional experience during addiction recovery. It can happen to anyone, even those in an Intensive Outpatient Program (IOP).

Today, we’ll explore how to handle a relapse in IOP with empathy and understand what happens next. We’ll discuss how your loved one can be honest with themselves and their treatment team, how to learn from the experience, and how to get back on track.

But most importantly, we’ll talk about how individuals can find the support they need to overcome this hurdle and continue their recovery journey.

Understanding IOP and the Chance of a Relapse in Addiction Recovery

An Intensive Outpatient Program is a structured approach to break the cycle of addiction. It provides hope for those dealing with drug and alcohol addiction.

Also, it offers flexibility to continue personal responsibilities while receiving education about addiction, professional supervision, therapy, and group counseling.

However, despite the best efforts, relapsing is common in the early stages of rehab. The reasons include mental health issues, environmental triggers, and brain changes due to substance abuse.

Breakdown of Intensive Outpatient Program

Let’s take a closer look at IOP. Among the key components of this addiction treatment program, we can find:

  • Therapy Sessions: They explore your loved one’s behavioral patterns related to addiction. It can help them restructure their thoughts.
  • Educational Programs: They are essential in understanding the physical effects of drug use, coping mechanisms for cravings, and triggers.
  • Sober Activities: They encourage individuals to pursue new hobbies or interests to help fill the void, promote productivity, and pursue independence from substance use.

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Contemplating Relapses in Early Recovery

For your loved one, it can be disheartening to experience a relapse despite their best efforts. It’s important to understand that this can happen to anyone.

There are reasons why it’s more likely to occur during this period. It ultimately comes down to the following:

  • Residual withdrawals: Physical withdrawal symptoms are addressed in detox. However, psychological withdrawals can persist, leading to relapse triggers like insomnia and depression.
  • Lack of coping skills: The first few days of rehabilitation can be challenging for patients. They are adjusting to their sober lifestyle, which often leads to difficulty handling high-risk situations.
  • Over-confidence: After detoxification, people can become over-confident and think they have completely overcome their addiction.

Knowing the warning signs of relapse is the first step in preventing it. But if your loved one is already using drugs or alcohol again, you might wonder if there’s any consequence. Don’t worry! They won’t typically be punished or kicked out of the support group.

What Happens When Someone Relapses in IOP?

A doctor is discussing what happens when someone relapses in IOP with a patient at a desk.

Unfortunately, relapses are common in recovery. If your loved one relapses in IOP, it doesn’t mean they’re weak; they just found a speed bump on the road. With the appropriate resources and professional help, their recovery path won’t be highly affected.

Addiction treatment aims to provide support, education, motivation in recovery, and resources to help individuals navigate challenging situations, learn from setbacks, and keep moving forward. So don’t be afraid – there’s always a way out!

Acknowledgement and Re-Engagement

Your loved one’s treatment team will guide them in recognizing and accepting the incident.

  • Confession: When experiencing a relapse, it is crucial to be honest with the treatment team to foster open communication.
  • Support: The team will provide emotional support to deal with the guilt or self-reproach that can come with relapses.

Assessment and Developing a Relapse Prevention Plan

After a relapse, the treatment plan may be adjusted to ensure personal safety. These modifications are essential to help individuals recover and avoid the risk of relapsing again.

  • Re-evaluation: The treatment team will thoroughly investigate the cause of the relapse, analyzing potential triggers and coping strategies in detail.
  • Changes in the Treatment Plan: The current treatment plan may require adjustments. Help with a licensed therapist could be added or replaced, and frequency may also be adjusted.

Even though relapsing when things are good can feel like a significant setback, remember that it is just another turn on the journey toward healing. It’s an opportunity for your loved one to redirect their efforts and take a more comprehensive approach to improve their well-being.

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Slip vs Relapse in Rehab: What Are the Differences?

During recovery, your loved one might face two obstacles: slips and relapses. It’s like walking on a wet floor. Sometimes, individuals might stumble, but they can recover their balance quickly. Other times, they might lose their balance and fall.

An Overview of Slips

When someone in recovery experiences a “slip,” they have briefly returned to old habits, including substance use. Some characteristics of this setback are:

  • Short-lived: They are brief and typically involve using or consuming something only once.
  • Quick return to recovery: Those who stumble resume drug treatment faster, and the modifications to their plan are less invasive.

Understanding Relapses

On the other hand, a full relapse represents a critical turn in the recovery journey. Some common components of a relapse are:

  • Longer duration and intensity: Relapses involve returning to substance addiction for more time, with doses similar to or exceeding initial use.
  • Returning to old habits: In relapses, old habits reappear as isolated incidents and as restored patterns of addictive behavior.

Although these two have slight differences, they represent the same – returning to drug use. They don’t mean the end of the recovery process, just an opportunity to do the right things.

Relapsing Is Not the End of a Sober Living

Two women hugging on a couch in a living room, demonstrating the importance of sober living and support.

As your loved one is recovering from addiction, they should view relapses as opportunities to build a strong approach rather than insurmountable obstacles.

It’s crucial to accept the support of friends, family, and community and be open to new approaches to addiction treatment.

Although setbacks may occur along the way, individuals shouldn’t let a relapse define them. Remember, your loved one’s strength lies in their unwavering commitment and determination to stay sober.

Frequently Asked Questions About What Happens if You Relapse in IOP

Does relapsing reset your progress?

During your journey towards recovery, experiencing a relapse does not mean you’ve lost all the progress you’ve made. The lessons you’ve learned, your resilience and the strategies you’ve developed on your path to sobriety are still valuable.

Do you have to start over if you relapse?

If you experience a relapse, it doesn’t mean all your efforts have been in vain. Instead, it’s an opportunity to revisit your recovery plan and make some adjustments. This way, you can address the gaps that may have contributed to the relapse. Remember, recovery is a journey, and setbacks can happen.

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Is it okay to relapse?

While relapsing is not ideal, you should view it as an opportunity to grow if it happens. Remember that it doesn’t make you a ‘bad’ or ‘failed’ person. Recovery can be a bumpy road, and relapses are just a part of it. Instead of seeing them as setbacks, view them as opportunities to improve your sobriety strategies.

At what stage does relapse occur?

Relapses can happen at any point during recovery, but they tend to be more common in the early stages. When someone is still adapting to new coping methods and lifestyle adjustments, it can be easier to turn to drugs or alcohol again.

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