Does Relapse Mean Failure?


Open Door


 Q: Does relapse mean failure?

A. No

Since addiction/alcoholism is a chronic relapsing disease, relapse does not mean failure. For many men and women, recovery can be a pattern of two steps forward, one step back. Relapse, in a way, just confirms that the person does indeed have a problem.

As crazy as this may sound, I would say to almost anyone: Consider that relapse might happen, and then plan what to do if or when it does. After a relapse, the person should call a friend who is also in recovery and get right back to doing what is needed to avoid it in the future. Learn from it.

The recovering person should ask, Why did this relapse happen? He needs to be honest. What triggered the event? Was it planned out? What events may have led up to it? Then be honest about what to do in order to ensure that it doesn’t happen again.

“. . .taking a step backward
after taking a step forward is not a disaster,
it’s a cha-cha
—Robert Brault


Phone Counseling for Families Dealing with Substance Abuse

Why Don't They Just Quit? What families and friends need to know about addiction and recovery.This “Q & A, Does Relapse Mean Failure?,with Joe Herzanek” is excerpted from Part 5 of “Why Don’t They Just Quit? What families and friends need to know about addiction and recovery.

> Paperback
> Audio Book CD (Listen in the car)
> Kindle
> Audible Audio Download  (LISTEN TO 4 MIN. SAMPLE)

> Relapse. It Happens.
~by Joe Herzanek
Read about Al-Anon: The Critical Role of Al-Anon in Family Addiction Recovery
> Relapse Explained: “Slips and Human Nature.”
> Addicts Don’t Want to Die
> We can’t afford treatment. What now?

Recovery Resources for Friends, Families and Employers

> If someone can stop using drugs or alcohol for weeks at a time, they “aren’t an addict—correct?
> Chronic Pain Management & Pain Pill Addiction: What to do?
> How can I know if my addicted friend or loved one is telling the truth?
> “I need help because I’m not able to deal with my live-in Fiance’s need to get drunk every night.”

> Should my husband “back off?”
> Gambling vs. Drug Addiction? What is your opinion?
> How can I tell if someone is an addict/alcoholic or just a heavy user?
> What is Methadone? What is Harm Reduction?

> Self-Tests: Codependence
> Self-Tests: Alcohol and Drug Addiction

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6 thoughts on “Does Relapse Mean Failure?

  1. Pingback: Gambling vs. drug addiction? What is your opinion? | Changing Lives Foundation Blog

  2. Pingback: Should my husband "back off?" | Changing Lives Foundation Blog

  3. Pingback: Addicts Don't Want To Die | Changing Lives Foundation Blog

  4. Jonathan Lederman

    This is a question that comes up many times and the answer is that relapse is part of the process. Many times it takes the addict several times before they find the fortitude to stick to the commitment to become clean and sober.
    If you are a mother of an addict that has relapsed please visit and join this free online community where you can share with out shame and find strength to remember that you are special.
    In celebration of National Recovery Month The Addict’s Mom is selecting a person of the day to honor for their commitment to getting and staying clean.

  5. Gail Texidor

    Relapse is absolutely NOT a failure. In fact, most addiction experts I’ve talked to and read from say that it’s expected. If anything, people should think of it as a learning experience rather than a failure. It’s nearly inevitable, and it’s crucial to make the most of it.

    Have you heard about Post Acute Withdrawal Syndrome? – a lot of doctors say that it’s the number one cause of relapse among recovering addicts. Now that I think back to my days in rehab, I definitely see that I was suffering from some of the symptoms, and that they may have contributed to the slip-ups I had in the first few years of my recovery.

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