Rehab 4 Addiction

In the UK, cannabis is one of the most widely abused substances with many people seeking professional help for addiction treatment every day.

Through this blog post, we want to offer our support and help you to avoid future consumption and situations in which cannabis relapse seems impossible.

What is a relapse and why does it happen?

A relapse occurs when an individual engages in addictive behaviour and consumes a substance from which they were actively abstaining.

Many things influence the likelihood of relapses such as high levels of stress from work or home life, money troubles, mental health issues, or relationship problems. The overall reasons for relapses are very personal and hard to break down into one root cause. [1]

Relapse triggers aren’t always related to environmental issues but sometimes social, meaning certain people with who you used to be friends can cause you to want to consume cannabis again.

When you relapse, it can feel impossible to think of abstaining again in the future. Many people also feel as though they have failed but this simply isn’t true.

Relapses are very common in the recovery journey and instead indicate that changes in your treatment and aftercare must be implemented.

residential rehab

What are the warning signs of a cannabis relapse?

Maintaining sobriety can feel difficult, especially if you have just finished treatment at a rehabilitation centre or outpatient programme.

You may feel a lot of pressure to perform well and re-adjust back into home life. For some people, this pressure can be too much and cause a relapse to occur.

Usually, with cannabis addictions, users believe that they can just have ‘one hit’ to alleviate cravings.

What starts as a small consumption can quickly turn into repeat usage, causing the cycle of addiction to begin again. Usually, an individual will consume more of the substance they are addicted to due to feelings of self-hatred and guilt.

Whilst many people think a relapse is a single event of consumption, it is more helpful to break it down into 3 separate stages: emotional, mental, and physical.

Emotional relapse is usually the first step in the relapse process. It involves an individual feeling intense emotions such as anger, anxiety, and sadness.

They may also struggle to eat or sleep properly. The desire for continued sobriety often begins to waver during this time as the support system seems out of reach.

These are often the beginning signs of a cannabis relapse and they often occur very quickly without the individual even noticing a relapse could occur.

If you notice these signs in a friend or loved one, it is important you intervene or offer your support before the second stage of a relapse takes place.

The second stage is the mental relapse stage. It is an internal struggle in which an individual debates consuming cannabis again. They may believe they can smoke it or ingest just a small amount to make themselves feel better.

The part of them that wants to use substances again is very common in recovery which is why addiction is categorised as a chronic condition in which a user has a loss of control.

When these feelings become too difficult to overcome, the individual may set a time or place for when to physically relapse. Once this has been decided, it is often hard to dissuade them.

The third stage is the physical relapse stage. This is the process most people think of when they hear the word relapse. A physical relapse takes place the moment an individual consumes cannabis again.

Smoking, vaping, or ingesting cannabis can cause intense feelings to rush back resulting in strong cravings and even psychosis. [2] Once a physical relapse takes place, it is important to seek support from a treatment centre as soon as possible.

How does an individual recover from a cannabis relapse?

The best way to recover from a cannabis relapse is to re-enter treatment. Most residential treatment centres offer re-admission within the first year of your sobriety. This is because the first 12 months of recovery are when the chance of relapsing is at its highest.

During your time in treatment, staff will work to re-address your needs and devise an amended treatment plan suited to help you deal with withdrawals and your relapse. During this time, you may be given a dual diagnosis.

A dual diagnosis is given to patients who present both a substance use disorder and a co-occurring mental health disorder. Often, undiagnosed mental health disorders can be a contributing factor to why individuals relapse.

Cannabis withdrawals can be dangerous, so it is important to treat them immediately to avoid future relapses. [3]

Other ways to recover include identifying triggers and creating a thorough relapse prevention plan. Exploring what situations, people, or objects are likely to trigger cannabis cravings can help you as you move on in your recovery journey.

Relapse prevention plans are often created in treatment and can help you should another relapse present in the future.

A relapse prevention plan is a written document that contains your coping mechanisms and triggers, as well as your goals for treatment and information about your support network.

Avoiding long-term relapses can be a possibility for all. Ensuring you make lifestyle changes can help this to become a reality. This means re-evaluating your relationships with friends and people in your life who may pose a threat to your sobriety.

How can I avoid a cannabis relapse?

If you are still in contact with people who supply, sell, or consume cannabis, they could be placing your health in danger. Whilst they may understand your aim to manage your newfound sobriety, they still pose a risk to the hard work you have achieved.

Ensuring you socialise in places that are very unlikely to result in cannabis consumption is a good way of avoiding it entirely. This may include places that sell alcohol and tobacco too.

If the people you used to socialise with are unwavering in their approach to cannabis consumption, it will certainly be in your best interest to make new friends or take up a new hobby.

Knowing when to leave a situation when you are uncomfortable is very important. Staying in a situation where the threat of cannabis usage is high can cause a relapse to occur very quickly.

Attending a local support group or 12-step meeting can also help you to form new friendships with peers who are invested in staying sober. Here, inspiring stories can be shared amongst your group.

Reach out to Rehab 4 Addiction

At Rehab 4 Addiction, we understand that recovery isn’t linear. Whilst you may excel in treatment, returning home can pose a different kind of threat to your sobriety.

If you have previously sought treatment for cannabis addiction but believe you would benefit from re-entering a facility, call us today to discuss your options.

Alternatively, if you have been debating seeking help for your cannabis consumption but don’t know where to begin, speak to a member of our friendly team. No question is too big or small, reach out today.


[1] The recovery paradigm: A model of hope and change for alcohol and drug addiction

[2] Association Between Continued Cannabis Use and Risk of Relapse in First-Episode Psychosis

[3] Cannabis withdrawal is real and likely to lead to relapse




Boris is our editor-in-chief at Rehab 4 Addiction. Boris is an addiction expert with more than 20 years in the field.  His expertise covers a broad of topics relating to addiction, rehab and recovery. Boris is an addiction therapist and assists in the alcohol detox and rehab process. Boris has been featured on a variety of websites, including the BBC, Verywell Mind and Healthline.