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What Is the Difference Between a Lapse and a Relapse?

It is easy to get caught up in the world around you and forget to manage your triggers. Also, it can be difficult to juggle all of life’s responsibilities. Maybe you even find yourself questioning your commitment to your recovery. Recovering from substance use disorder (SUD) is a process, and lapses and relapses can sometimes happen. Perhaps you don’t know the difference between a lapse and a relapse. It’s important to know the difference between the two so you can take the appropriate steps to get back on track in recovery.

This article will explore the differences between lapses and relapses, how the brain shifts between the two, and how The Guest House can offer you support as an alumnus.

What Is the Difference Between a Lapse and a Relapse?

After the primary addiction treatment ends, most people continue to seek some form of treatment to prevent relapse from occurring. However, you may not know when you might be having a lapse or a true relapse. There is an important difference between the two. One is easier to bounce back from than the other.

Relapse is the more commonly known term in addiction circles. A relapse is defined as a sustained return to the addiction, which continues for some time. Also, it is important to note that experiencing a relapse does not make you a failure. Instead, a relapse creates a learning opportunity.

What Exactly Is a Lapse?

A lapse refers to a short-term return back to your addiction of choice. The key word is short-term. This is the main difference between lapse and relapse. It is no secret that you will be tempted to return to your drug of choice. However, this does not make you a bad person. It simply makes you a human being.

There will be times when you struggle with your thought processes. You may start thinking that it’s okay to have a little of your chosen addictive substance. That’s the time to remind yourself of the difference between healthy and unhealthy coping skills.

The Difference Between Healthy and Unhealthy Coping Skills

You probably know what your healthy coping skills are and how they can help with your treatment. Sometimes it is easy to forget everything you’ve learned because you get busy with life. However, when a lapse or relapse is threatening your recovery, it is important to revisit the difference between healthy and unhealthy coping skills.

Healthy coping skills are anything that you engage in that brings out the best in you and your recovery. The following are several examples of healthy coping skills:

Unhealthy coping skills are the opposite: They bring out the worst in you. Perhaps you can even call them triggers for unhealthy behaviors. These behaviors may be warning signs that you should pay extra close attention to. For example, you may struggle to stay on a routine or find yourself at a bar due to an emotional reaction. Unhealthy coping skills can be the difference between a lapse and a relapse.

How Brain Changes Lead to Lapses and Relapses

The brain is the most complex part of the human body, and it’s involved in every aspect of your life. Addictive substances interfere with how the brain reacts to situations. Some substances can activate neurons to release large amounts of neurotransmitters like dopamine. When this happens, a person feels a reward from the drug, but the behaviors that formerly were pleasurable suddenly don’t produce pleasure anymore. The prefrontal cortex, which is involved in planning and decision-making, is also negatively affected by addictive substances. All of these changes can lead to lapses and relapses.

Also, the more drugs that are taken, the more the brain changes its functioning. Eventually, this leads to permanent changes. NIH News in Health mentions that much of addiction’s power “lies in its ability to hijack and even destroy key brain regions that are meant to help us survive.”

How Can The Guest House Help Me?

Recovery is not an easy path to endure. Just like a roller coaster, there will be ups and downs, and you have to try to buckle up and enjoy the ride. The hardest part of the journey is showing up. You are doing that, so you are exactly where you need to be. You took that first step to seek help, and that is courageous.

Understanding the difference between a lapse, which is temporary, and a relapse, which is more sustaining, is important. When you know what is happening to you, you will be more motivated to seek the help you deserve. If you have had a lapse or a relapse, there is nothing to be ashamed of. Relapse is a part of the journey.

Getting You Back on Track

To get you back on track, many programs at The Guest House can be beneficial for you. We offer equine therapy, which allows you to spend time with horses and find a connection with nature. Additionally, we have an array of other therapeutic offerings that you are more than welcome to participate in.

At The Guest House, we have helped and assisted thousands of people get back to sobriety. You can do it too. We are here with you every step of the way. After all, this is about you and what you want in your life.

If you or someone you know is struggling, The Guest House is here to help through our alumni program. We are delighted to be of service to you and will meet you with unconditional positive regard.

Understanding the difference between a lapse and a relapse is essential and could even save your life. Part of the journey is taking time to focus on yourself and all that you have accomplished. Just because a lapse or relapse has happened doesn’t mean it is the end of your recovery. A relapse is simply a pause, which creates a chance to get back on track with your recovery. Relapses can truly happen to anyone. If you or someone you know is struggling with a lapse or relapse, please do not hesitate and give us a call. We have a variety of resources that can be the missing piece in creating lasting recovery. Contact us at (855) 483-7800