Recurrence of Use: What is Recurrence of Use?

Recurrence of Use in Recovery Housing > Recurrence of Use: What is Recurrence of Use?


A recovery house operator may have heard the term “relapse” or “recurrence of symptoms.” These are all phrases that are used because as the understanding of the disease of addiction advances, so does the terminology regarding different aspects of a person’s experience.

Consequently, there is a lack of consensus on many of these terms and definitions.

Each Recurrence of Use experience is different. Often these different experiences start with thoughts, behaviors and actions that occur prior to a person using substances.

A resident might experience a one-time situation that is an error in judgment due to environmental triggers or extreme situations.  Which is a completely different situation from the resident who uses substances because they are no longer interested in a recovery-oriented life-style.

Three key attributes are identified to define what Recurrence of Use is:

  • Interruption of abstinence,
  • Vulnerability to uncontrollable substance-related behavior and/or cues, and
  • A transition to potential progression or regression.

Recurrence of Use is recognized as a process. 

Recognizing recurrence of use as a process requires that we view each of these incidents using a person-centered approach with a goal of ensuring safety, reducing trauma, allowing residents to learn from the experience, and providing support to break the cycle of the recurrence of use.