If you’ve been through treatment for a substance use disorder, you know that addiction is a chronic disease. The risk of addiction relapse is significant—studies show that the addiction relapse rate hovers between 40 and 60 percent.1

For successful long-term recovery, it’s important to separate the truth about addiction relapse from the fiction. In this post, we’ll look at some of the most common myths and about addiction relapse.

Myth #1: An addiction relapse sends you right back to square one

One major misconception about addiction relapse is that it’s some sort of defeat. One relapse doesn’t mean that you’ve undone all your hard work in recovery.

The National Institute on Drug Abuse compares addiction relapse to other chronic conditions such as hypertension and diabetes.2 If a person with diabetes continues to experience high blood sugar with their treatment regimen, they don’t give up and decide their situation is hopeless. Instead, they recognize that their treatment needs to be adjusted. The same philosophy can be applied to addiction treatment, with a relapse indicating that the current strategy needs to be modified.

Myth #2: An addiction relapse is a sign of failure

Many people make the mistake of equating a relapse with failure—a personal failure, a failure of their treatment program or a failure of their support system. This way of thinking is harmful to everyone involved, and none of these ideas are true.

Addiction relapse is a routine part of recovery, and it’s nothing more than a sign that you need to go back into treatment or modify your current treatment plan. By making the right changes to your treatment strategy, you’re boosting your chances of successfully preventing addiction relapse in the future.

Myth #3: If so many people struggle with addiction relapse, then treatment must not work

Addiction relapse is common among people who have battled substance use disorders. Trying to quit drugs or alcohol on your own is rarely successful. Professional treatment helps you stop drinking or using in a safe manner, and it equips you with the skills you need to navigate life in recovery. As long as a person is willing to return to treatment if they experience an addiction relapse, the chances are good that they can sustain long-term recovery.

Myths and misconceptions about addiction relapse can be damaging to people who struggle with addiction, and getting the facts straight is essential. With a solid understanding of addiction as a chronic, relapsing condition, you can make the right choices for yourself that put you on the path to long-term recovery.


  1. https://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/drugs-brains-behavior-science-addiction/treatment-recovery
  2. https://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/principles-drug-addiction-treatment-research-based-guide-third-edition/frequently-asked-questions/how-effective-drug-addiction-treatment

Suggested Links