Why Do I Keep Relapsing?

The idea of sobriety sounds both challenging and relieving. The challenge can come from the overwhelming feeling of stopping a behavior that has been so consistent in your life up until now. The relief can come from releasing the obsession with substances and the benefits and growth you can see in health, interpersonal relationships, work and sense of self. But what if you have tried sobriety- and relapsed? Maybe once, or twice, or three times. There is stress, anxiety and fear that can come from relapsing and it leaves the individual thinking: “What is wrong with me? Why do I keep relapsing?” The answer is- there is nothing wrong with you, but there may be something wrong with your recovery program. Take a look at the list below for 5 reasons you are struggling with the question “Why do I keep relapsing” and ways to help your recovery journey.

So, let’s get to the heart of why you might be relapsing:

  1. You’re not addressing underlying mental health conditions. For some people struggling with substance abuse, they are really trying to mask an underlying mental health disorder that has been undiagnosed and thus untreated. Finding a treatment center or recovery program that is equipped to help with both mental health diagnosis and substance abuse could be the answer.
  2. You’re not addressing your underlying thoughts and feelings. If we only take away the numbing of the feelings- then we are still left with the feelings! It’s important to make sure you are identifying and addressing any underlying feelings of hurt, guilt, shame, embarrassment, pain and/or frustration.
  3. You haven’t found healthy replacement behaviors. We can’t just stop a coping behavior and not have a replacement. What can you do instead when uncomfortable thoughts and feelings come up? What are other activities to do with friends or family that don’t involve substances?
  4. You’re trying to do it all on your own. Sobriety and recovery are hard enough- you don’t need to do it alone. Finding a treatment center, a mentor, a sponsor, even a family member or friend can help you get started.
  5. You aren’t using the community. Community support is imperative and essential to your recovery from substance abuse. Having the accountability, support and validation of a group setting can help make this journey feel less lonely and open a dialogue about related struggles.


If you find yourself in relapse mode over and over again- and you’re wondering why you keep relapsing- maybe you need to change your approach and your support system. You are not alone. And there is hope for you in your recovery journey.



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