Recovery from addiction can be a lifelong journey and sobriety is not always guaranteed even after years of treatment and sobriety. The reality is that people can relapse even after they have been through treatment and lived sober for years, even decades. The risk for relapsing may drop significantly after five years of sobriety but relapse is always a possibility in recovery, and those who acknowledge relapse as a part of recovery can take steps to prevent it.
When someone relapses after a long period of sobriety it often is due to changes in their habits. They may have stopped doing the activities and engaging in the regular routine that kept them sober. It is said that complacency sets in, even if all things are going well. Part of the problem with straying from your sober routine is that the same triggers are always there and people can still cave in during moments of vulnerability.
People can still have the risk for relapse after many years often because they may become less active in their recovery. Some former addicts may think that after many years of sobriety, their habits have changed and that they are more in control.
The good news is that if someone relapses even after years of sobriety, they can still get back on track. When relapse occurs it is important to start going back to support groups and AA meetings as soon as possible. With relapsing, returning to rehab will be the best way to get healthy and sober so that you can minimize the damage and prevent things from progressing.
Even if you have not relapsed but feel the need to recommit and make recovery a priority in your life, returning to treatment is the best solution to continue your recovery journey.