A life of healthy, sober living does not simply begin once treatment has stopped. In most cases, the process may last years or even a lifetime. Recovering addicts must prepare themselves for a life-long struggle with drug dependency and be mentally fit to meet all the challenges they may be confronted with along the way to staying sober.

Relapse is a relatively common occurrence for patients who have completed one form or another of drug rehabilitation program. It is the term used to describe a recovering addict who resorts back to taking drugs before completing a full recovery. Certain major life changes such as a divorce, loss of employment or the death of a loved one, as well as a series of smaller, often trivial stressors, can lead to a relapse. Because no rehabilitation program can be deemed a success when an instance of relapse has taken place, the addict may be required to undergo a short or long-term treatment program all over again depending on the severity and frequency of the relapse. Still, because relapse is a relatively common obstacle on the road to complete recovery from drug addiction, it should not be regarded as a failure on the part of the addict. Whether it takes one, two, three or more tries to live a life completely free of drug dependency, the long-term goals of the rehabilitation process should not be abandoned as a result of a temporary relapse.