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Recognizing the Three Stages of Relapse

jrtempleton - February 21, 2019

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When most people hear the words “addiction relapse”, they think about the physical act of using drugs or alcohol after a period of recovery. However, physical relapse is only part of a larger struggle that’s taking place. Addiction relapse actually occurs in three stages.

Stage One: Emotional Relapse

Before using again ever becomes an idea in your loved one’s mind, they begin the process of emotional relapse. Outside influences like stress in the workplace or internal factors like feelings of guilt or shame can begin breaking down a recovering addict’s defenses. Failure to take care of one’s own health can kick this process into motion as well. It’s important to maintain good nutrition, exercise regularly and get quality sleep.

You might be able to help identify some of the relapse triggers above particularly when they are accompanied by:

  • Severe mood swings
  • Angry outbursts
  • Resistance to continuing treatment, counseling or meetings

Stage Two: Mental Relapse

When you fail to address emotional relapse, conscious thoughts about using again begin to surface. Your loved one may have advanced to this stage if they are:

  • Reconnecting with friends or places associated with their addiction
  • Fondly discussing or remembering experiences connected to past drug use
  • Lying about feeling the pull of old habits

An outside observer might not be able identify this stage quite as easily, and plans to use again may have begun.

Stage Three: Physical Relapse

This is the stage of relapse everyone recognizes. It can happen during treatment, in the days or weeks that follow or even after years or decades of sobriety. Unfortunately, relapse is fairly common among those struggling with addiction. It’s important to remember that this is not a sign of personal failing or inadequate treatment necessarily. Primarily, this a testament to how difficult the process of healing from addiction can be.

A major area of concern here is the risk of overdose. Even relatively short periods of time away from alcohol or other drugs can lower a person’s tolerance. When they resume using at the levels they were previously, that can be a serious and potentially fatal shock to the system.

Learn Relapse Prevention Techniques at Footprints

Your loved one doesn’t want to pick up the bottle or turn back to a pill that almost cost them everything. When you approach the subject of relapse, do so in a way that’s comforting and reassuring. If they don’t feel able to confide in you, encourage them to reach out to a sponsor, counselor or support group.

At Footprints Beachside Recovery, we believe in providing our clients with relapse prevention training. Our program helps those in recovery identify potential relapse triggers and learn healthy ways to cope. We also work with families to educate them about addiction and how to begin repairing their lives from the damage it has caused.

Do you have questions about treatment that can reduce the risk of relapse for your loved one? Contact us now for a confidential conversation.

Call Footprints Beachside Recovery at 877-954-3908 today.