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Relapse Prevention
with John Leadem, LCSW & Shawn Leadem, LCSW

Relapse is Not Part of Recovery

Relapse silhouetteActually, relapse by definition is a return to active addiction. Active addiction is not part of recovery. That makes no sense. The two are mutually exclusive.

It is a very dangerous sinkhole left open if you believe that a relapse is normal and to be expected.

You may get confused when you see other members of addiction recovery groups whom you have come to admire relapsing, but make no mistake, the hardship others face with relapse does not mean that it is normal or to be expected.

We are well aware that many still espouse the notion that relapse is a part of recovery. We adamantly disagree. We have found that those who preach that relapse is a part of the recovery process, and as such is an example of a low point or setback in recovery, have probably never freely climbed out of the wreckage left by an active addiction. We who have known the shame, the prevailing sense of indecency, the insanity of the broken promises, and shattered dreams of active addiction would never describe relapse as an expected aspect of recovery in the normal course of things.

So no, relapse is not a stage or an aspect of the recovery process. Relapse is the eventual outcome for someone who has languished in the process of relapse without intervening or accepting help.

We use the word process, because relapse is always a process, never an event. For most, a relapse begins long before we first reintroduce our drug of choice. This is good news. Since relapse is a process, it is therefore preventable. Our job is to become well versed in that process. To learn about the process and to develop the appropriate interventions that work for each of us individually when we are faced with the various challenges that we all will face along the way.

In our upcoming blogs we will highlight some immediate recovery interventions that will be necessary if you want to avoid the imminent threats to your abstinence and sobriety.

If you have read this far, you know what we think. Now we want to hear about your experience. Feel free to >>CLICK HERE<< to leave a comment with your own experiences or questions.


Relapse is Not Part of Recovery

John Leadem, MSW, LCSW and Shawn Leadem, MSW, LCSW

Both John and Shawn Leadem are Licensed Clinical Social Workers in private practice in Toms River, New Jersey.

John has recently celebrated his 45th year in recovery and believes that “service to others is the cornerstone of spiritual maturity.” His professional service to addicted individuals and their families has included the development and direction of addiction treatment services in a full array of modalities from half-way houses to large residential treatment facilities over the past 44 years.

Shawn's lifelong exposure to the recovery culture and his personal recovery experience has left him with a deep personal empathy for the social and emotional suffering endured by others and a strong faith in a person’s ability to change. He has received his certification as a Sexual Addiction Therapist and as a Multiple Addictions Therapist by the International Institute for Trauma & Addiction Professionals.

Together, John and Shawn have co-authored and brought their unique treatment model of relapse prevention, An Ounce of Prevention: A Course in Relapse Prevention, to residential treatment centers across the United States, they have trained therapists at numerous national and international conferences, and most recently have trained many EAP programs associated with many State Unions.

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APA Reference
Shawn Leadem, J. (2017). Relapse is Not Part of Recovery. Psych Central. Retrieved on March 23, 2019, from


Last updated: 22 Jun 2017
Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 22 Jun 2017
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