How Long Does it Take to Recover from a Relapse?

Recovery is a difficult journey and a lifelong one at that. Many addicts have felt the same feelings and had the same fears. One of those fears is the fear of relapsing. The difficult road it took to get to sobriety can be crushed when you think there could be a moment when it all goes “down the drain.”

It is common for one to relapse at some point after getting clean. It is said that it is part of lifelong recovery and the journey. Life is a learning process, and recovery, relapse, making mistakes, and starting over are often a part of that process.  It takes time to heal from an addiction fully, and there may be hiccups along the path.


What is a Relapse While in Recovery?

By the simplest definition, a relapse is when a person returns to using drugs or alcohol after a period of sobriety. Many people recovering from addiction face a consistently high risk of relapse because chronic substance use can result in specific structural and functional brain alterations that persist well beyond the period that sobriety was first obtained.

There are two actual types of relapse, one being the more “traditional” relapse which occurs when a person knowingly uses a drink or a drug to, for example, calm themselves down from a long day at work. The second type of relapse is called “freelance” which is when someone unintentionally uses a drink or a drug. This could happen when someone is given alcohol and thinks the beverage is non-alcoholic.

According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIH):

For some drugs, a relapse can be very dangerous—even deadly. If a person stops taking drugs and then takes the amount they used before quitting, they can easily overdose. Their body is no longer used to having the same amount of the drug in its system. An overdose happens when a drug causes serious, harmful symptoms or death.

Many People Relapse and Recover Again

It can be very embarrassing and you may feel shameful about your relapse but you can’t let this stop you from moving forward. You first want to talk to your support, with people who have been through a relapse before.

Now you wonder since you slipped up, did you just throw all of your sobriety down the drain? A relapse can strengthen your recovery, revealing a weakness you may have overlooked. This is something you can learn from. There is no time frame as to when you recover from a relapse. Recovery is a way of life you work on every day in many different ways. You may want to consider some other steps after you have picked yourself up.

Picking Yourself Back Up After a Relapse

Should you go back to treatment? Whether or not you should return to treatment will depend on the severity of your lapse and the circumstances surrounding it. If the relapse consisted of a few hours or a few days, you might be able to veer back to your recovery path somewhat seamlessly. If you went on multiple week-long benders, another round of treatment might be in order. Like every addiction story is different, so is the path to recovery.

Look on the bright side. A slip may feel like the end of the world, but it’s an opportunity for growth and reinforcing basic life skills that need more work. Many people emerge from relapse with fresh motivation and strength to fight for their sobriety, as well as a deeper commitment to becoming and staying sober. This renewed motivation can help you come back from a relapse even stronger than you were before.

Overcome The Pain of a Relapse

Allure Detox can help you get back to your path of recovery. We are a comfortable, evidence-based drug and alcohol detox in West Palm Beach, Florida. We can free you or your loved one from the physical symptoms of addiction and start you on the path to recovery. We offer detox from drugs and alcohol on a medical basis so that you can safely resume the life you once lived, the life you thought was lost forever. Addicts emerge from Allure Detox healthy, sane, and prepared for a lifetime of recovery. Please contact us today if you or someone you love is suffering the pain of addiction.


  • How long does it take to recover from a relapse?

Published on: 2020-12-07
Updated on: 2024-06-19