Causes and Effects of Relapse

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Some may think that drug and alcohol recovery is a quick, one-time process when in actuality, it is a lifelong journey. It is estimated that nearly 50 to 70% of people who struggle with addiction will experience relapse within the first year following treatment.

There are various reasons people relapse, from ignoring mental and emotional signs to being exposed to multiple triggers. However, there are also a number of interpersonal and intrapersonal determinants to relapse.

Here are other factors that may cause someone to relapse:

Intrapersonal Factors

The term intrapersonal refers to communication or skills that happen exclusively within yourself. Intrapersonal communication is also recognized as self-awareness and introspection.

So how does intrapersonal communication relate to relapse? Many intrapersonal skills like self-efficacy, emotional states, motivation, and coping can cause relapse.


Self-efficacy is defined as a person’s belief in their ability to succeed in a particular situation. It can also be compared to one’s confidence within themselves to perform a certain behavior. Studies have shown that higher self-efficacy scores are correlated with longer intervals for relapse. Alternatively, individuals who report having lower self-efficacy have higher rates of relapse.


Motivation is the conscious or unconscious effort and action towards a goal that gives purpose to behavior. Motivation relates to relapse in multiple ways — the motivation for positive behavior change and the motivation to engage in problematic behaviors. Those who are positively motivated to change their behavior are less likely to relapse.


Having effective coping strategies is extremely effective in relapse prevention. If you do not utilize the proper skills and techniques to manage stress in high-risk situations, you are also at a higher risk for relapse. Treatment centers are designed to educate clients on skills and techniques to help them cope positively. People who cope successfully are also assumed to have higher rates of self-efficacy.

Interpersonal Factors

When something is interpersonal, it is referring to the exchange between two or more people. Interpersonal relationships can highly impact someone struggling with addiction, as who they surround themselves with is crucial to their success in recovery. Interpersonal relationships can often be linked to intrapersonal factors as they go hand in hand.

Family Relationships

Addiction not only affects the person struggling with substance abuse but the people immediately surrounding them as well. Families are often impacted by addiction and find it challenging to navigate. However, negative family behavior has been linked to high rates of relapse.

That is why it is important for families to educate themselves on repairing relationships with their loved ones and learning how they can effectively help without enabling someone who may be struggling with addiction. Individuals that have families that are reassuring, understanding, and supportive have been known to have improved treatment outcomes.

Hope Begins at Decision Point Center

Decision Point Center works with each individual to teach them the skills they need to improve both intrapersonal and interpersonal determinants. With our relapse prevention program and family therapy options, we are committed to your wellness. Call (844) 292-5010 to speak with our addiction specialists today.

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