How to Handle a Cocaine Relapse?

You might think of recovery as a one-and-done process, but that’s not usually the case. This is especially true with cocaine. Cocaine is a stimulant street drug that’s highly addictive. Because it’s so addictive, a cocaine relapse is common when users try to stop using cocaine. 

A cocaine relapse happens when you go back to using the drug after a period of being sober. A relapse could be a binge or a new pattern of regular use. A single dose is usually called a slip. A slip can be the start of a relapse, but it doesn’t have to be. 

You can relapse after recovering from any drug, but cocaine relapses are especially common. A whopping 44% of recovering cocaine users re-entered treatment after a relapse in the 2.6 years after their first treatment. 

Relapsing on cocaine doesn’t have to be more than a temporary setback. Handling your relapse the right way puts you back on track for recovery. It’s important to re-frame the way you think about your relapse. It’s a learning experience, not a failure. 

Remember that most users have a relapse at some point. It doesn’t make your recovery a failure. It just means you have some work to do getting back on track. 

Here’s what you need to know about cocaine relapse: 

Are You at Risk for a Cocaine Relapse?

Some people have a higher risk for cocaine relapse than others. These risk factors include: 

  • High stress
  • Poor coping skills
  • Family history of substance abuse
  • Mental health or developmental challenges 
  • Not meeting basic needs for shelter, food, employment, etc. 

If you know you’re at a higher risk for cocaine relapse, then you can take extra care to avoid situations that might trigger a relapse. For instance, you should stay away from friends who use cocaine or places where you used to use cocaine. 

You can work on lowering risk in some cases. For instance, you can develop better coping skills in therapy or treatment. Or you can work on treating co-occurring mental health disorders, like depression or bipolar disorder. 

The Warning Signs of Cocaine Relapse

You should know the early signs of cocaine relapse if you have a substance use disorder. Your loved ones should know the signs, too. They include: 

  • Missing therapy, group, or counseling sessions
  • Connecting with friends who use cocaine or illicit drugs
  • Thinking or feeling like slipping once is acceptable
  • Having nostalgic feelings about past drug use
  • Lying about where you are, who you’re with, and what you’re doing 

Slipping and using cocaine just once can lead you back down the beaten path, making it harder to get back into recovery. If you know how to recognize the warning signs, you can make an effort to avoid relapse before it happens. 

What should you do if you think you might relapse? First, talk to your provider if you’re already in treatment. They can direct you to local resources like therapists and support groups. They might want to see you for an appointment to talk through what you’re experiencing. 

If you’re not already in treatment, then now’s the time to start. Cocaine recovery is hard enough with help, so why would you want to recover alone? The help of a treatment center can increase your chances of a successful recovery. 

How to Stop a Cocaine Relapse

If you’ve already relapsed, then the next step is to get back into recovery. Don’t waste time worrying about the fact that you relapsed. The sooner you seek help, the sooner you can say that you’re in recovery again. 

Reach Out for Help

You should have a trusted person on speed dial, and now’s the time to call them. This person should be someone who you can be honest with about your cocaine use. 

If you relapse, your first step is to call your trusted person. It can be a therapist, sibling, parent, or another loved one. Their job is to listen, provide support, and then help get you into treatment. 

Reframe Your Relapse

Next, change the way you’re thinking about your relapse. It’s common to feel like you’ve let somebody down when you relapse. You might feel like you’ve already failed at recovering, so you might be reluctant to get back into treatment. 

Let go of those negative thoughts. Instead, choose to see your relapse as a learning experience. Many recovering users who’ve relapsed say that the experience helped them commit to recovery again. 

It can be hard to change your thought patterns by yourself. When you get back into treatment, your therapist or counselor can help you find new ways to see your relapse in a positive light. 

Set Up Boundaries

Many people relapse when they end up in situations where others are using cocaine. It’s hard, but recovery might mean ending relationships with people in your life who use the drug. It also can mean ending relationships with:

  • People who don’t support your recovery
  • Anyone who use illicit drugs
  • People who hang out in places where you used to use drugs 

The best way to recover from a cocaine relapse is to stay away from the drug as much as possible. Any relationship that puts you in the path of cocaine is not good for your recovery. 

Follow Your Treatment Plan

Once you’re back in treatment, you’ll talk about your relapse with a medical provider or counselor. You’ll also discuss your drug use and medical history. The conversation might include talk about: 

  • Your current and past drug use
  • Your last treatment regimen, if you were in treatment before the relapse
  • The details of your relapse and what led to it 
  • Your goals for treatment and recovery 

Addiction Treatment Options

Then, your provider will help you find a treatment plan that’s right for your needs. There’s no single treatment plan that’s right for everyone. Your plan could include a combination of: 

  • Inpatient Treatment: If your condition is complicated, you might start with inpatient treatment. Here, you can be monitored while you detox from cocaine and any other drugs you’re using. You can benefit from the healing-focused atmosphere and stay away from influences that might hurt your recovery. You must stay at the facility for the duration of your treatment.
  • Outpatient Treatment: Many patients start treatment as inpatient and move to outpatient once they’re stable. Outpatient treatment might continue for weeks or months. Some patients keep participating in treatment without an end date, while others eventually move away from treatment. 
  • Therapy: Therapy is an important part of substance abuse recovery. It can help you understand your behaviors and how to avoid relapsing. Some common types include cognitive behavioral therapy and contingency management therapy. 
  • Medication-Assisted Treatment: While medication-assisted treatment isn’t an option for cocaine abuse, it might be used to treat other addictions you have, like alcohol or opiates. 
  • Social Support: Maybe you have loved ones or friends who are close enough to support you through recovery. Whether you do or don’t, it’s a good idea to have a recovery-focused social support group, too. This could be a therapy group at your treatment center. 

Consistency is Key

It’s very important to follow your treatment plan. If your treatment is outpatient, then your doctor will have you attend regular appointments. There are expectations about these appointments. They might include: 

  • Regular Attendance: Be sure to attend all of your scheduled appointments. If you think you might miss an appointment, it’s important to call first and let the office know. 
  • Drug Testing: Testing might be random or it might be done at every appointment. Most in-office drug testing is a urine test, although some centers use hair tests. 
  • Following Treatment Recommendations: Your provider might recommend a combination of talk therapy and behavioral therapy. Make sure you follow their recommendations. 
  • Honest Disclosure About Drug Use: It’s important that you tell your provider right away if you use cocaine. If you use other illicit drugs while in recovery, you should tell your provider about that, too. 

Relapse Doesn’t Mean Failure

The most important mantra to remember is that relapse doesn’t mean failure. A vast majority of addicts relapse. Cocaine is highly addictive, so your chances of relapse are even higher. 

Recovery is more of a journey than a destination, and it’s normal to fall away from the path a few times before you learn how to stay on. 

When you relapse, you have an opportunity to recommit yourself to treatment right away. Just because you used cocaine last night doesn’t mean that you have to use it today. 

Any time is the right time to call your treatment provider and tell them you’re having a relapse. Most treatment centers treat a relapse like an emergency, and they’ll do what’s in their power to get you into care right away. 

Getting Treatment for Cocaine Abuse

There’s no shame in going back into treatment a second time after having a relapse. Or a third, fourth, or fifth time. For many people, cocaine recovery is a process, not an end goal. In fact, up to 60% of people in recovery relapse at some point.

It’s important to get help for substance abuse as soon as you relapse. Your first contact with a treatment center is usually an intake appointment. From there, you’ll receive a treatment plan that’s tailored to your needs. 

If you think you have a cocaine abuse problem, it’s time to find help now. A certified treatment center can give you the care and support you need for a happy recovery. 

  1. United States Library of Medicine: A national evaluation of treatment outcomes for cocaine dependence
  2. United States Library of Medicine: Preventing relapse to cocaine
  3. National Institute on Drug Abuse: Drugs, brains, and behavior: the science of addiction

Written by Spring Hill Recovery Editorial Team

© 2024 Spring Hill Recovery | All Rights Reserved

* This page does not provide medical advice.

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