Relapse Prevention: The 3 Stages of Relapse

Posted on: August 28, 2020 by in Addiction
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Substance abuse relapse is common among people recovering from addiction. It is important to note that the chances of success are greatest during the early stages of relapse. It is important to become familiar with the warning signs in order to develop coping skills to prevent relapse as early as possible.

The Stages of Relapse

There are 3 main stages of relapse:

  1. Emotional
  2. Mental
  3. Physical

Emotional Relapse

During an emotional relapse, a person will remember their last relapse and not want to repeat it. However, their emotions and behaviors are gearing them up for a relapse in the future. Since they are not considering abusing a substance during this phase, they will experience strong feelings of denial.

Signs of an emotional relapse:

  • Suppressed emotions
  • Self-isolating
  • Not attending meetings or other support groups
  • Attending meetings or other support groups but not participating
  • Focusing on other people
  • Poor eating and/or sleeping habits

Mental Relapse

During a mental relapse, a person feels like a war is happing inside his or her own mind where they want to use but, at the same time, does not want to use.

Signs of a mental relapse:

  • Craving the substances they have abused in the past
  • Thinking about the things associated with past use like people, places, or things
  • Minimizing the consequences of past use
  • Bargaining
  • Lying
  • Scheming of ways to better control their substance abuse
  • Actively looking for opportunities to relapse
  • Planning to relapse

Physical Relapse

A physical relapse occurs when an individual begins abusing substances again. Most physical relapses occur because of a moment of opportunity when the person believes they have a window in which they will not get caught.

Relapse Prevention

Relapse is a gradual process. Know that if you or a loved one are experiencing emotional, mental, or physical relapse there is hope for recovery. Seek out a trusted person or medical professional to get the help you need today.

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