• Scott McClure

3 Stages of a Relapse

Relapse is one of the biggest fears of recovering addicts. Whether the fear stems from a lack of faith in their own resolve or the thought that any trigger will throw them off the wagon, maintaining long-term recovery is challenging.


However, contrary to popular belief, relapse isn’t merely falling into old habits and patterns. It’s not a spur-of-the-moment kind of thing—in fact, it’s a much slower process that starts in mind; and once the beans are sowed, it doesn’t take long for the body to comply and take action—usually for the worst.


The process starts in subtle ways and gets worse with time. But that doesn’t mean it can’t be controlled.


If you’re a recovering addict and want to ensure that you don’t relapse, here are a few signs that will help you take the necessary precautionary measures to maintain sobriety.

Let’s take a look at the three stages of relapse.


Stage 1: Emotional relapse

Emotional relapse starts when a person experiences difficulty in processing emotions and feelings without the object of addiction. They get into the habit of thinking that they won’t be able to cope without the substance assisting them. Some of the warning signs may include:


· You’ve begun to bottle up emotions

· You’ve stopped attending group therapy sessions or support group meetings because you think you don’t need them anymore

· When you do attend support meetings, you’re mainly present as an observer, not a sharer

· You isolate yourself from family members, close friends, and peers who want to help you and get defensive

· You’re focusing on the problems of other people to distract yourself from your own

· You aren’t managing anxiety, stress, and other emotions in a healthy way

· You don’t take care of your physical and emotional health

· You think you won’t be able to enjoy life like the people around you without the object of addiction.


Stage 2: Mental relapse


Signs of mental relapse begin to appear when an individual doesn’t do anything to remedy the signs of emotional relapse. A mental relapse means that there’s a war waging inside your own head—one part of you wants to drink and the other doesn’t. The occasional thoughts of using or drinking again are diminishing your cognitive and physical resolve. Some of the warning signs may include:


· Your cravings and psychological urges have become intense

· You’re thinking about places and people that you associate with your old patterns

· You’re hanging out in places and around people that trigger your cravings

· You glamorize drinking and using drugs to minimize the consequences of the past

· You bargain with yourself and try to cut yourself some slack by coming up with scenarios where it’s acceptable to drink or smoke up again

· You’re lying to your loved ones about recovery

· You’re fantasizing about using and are scheming about ways to control usage.


Stage 3: Physical relapse


This stage is the final nail in the coffin. When emotional and mental relapse become too overpowering, the body no longer has the will to fight the urge and finally gives in. This stage includes the act of drinking alcohol or using drugs.



At Life Launch, we understand how hard it can be to break the patterns, identify the signs of relapse, and seek help for them. But you should know that you can muster up the strength and reach out for help—just like you did the first time.

If you think you or your loved ones are experiencing these signs of relapse, give them the treatment they deserve. Our men sober living home in Houston is one of the leading sober living communities in Houston, TX. We strive to create an environment that’s conducive to your recovery so you can maintain life-long sobriety. Get in touch with us today.

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