Did you know that 1 in 10 Americans struggle with a substance abuse problem at some point in their life?
Overcoming addiction and finding the road to sobriety can be a challenging journey. It can take an addict many attempts before they truly get their life back on track.
By recognizing the stages of relapse, you can help yourself, or a loved one get back onto the right path and continue with recovery. Our guide shows you the warning signs and helps you identify when someone is struggling.
Read on to learn about the stages of relapse.
What Is Relapse?
Put simply, a relapse is when someone in recovery stops maintaining their recovery goals.
This happens when they stop reducing or abstaining from drug or alcohol use and return to the same level of substance abuse they were previously suffering from. Relapse is often an important feature of recovery.
A variety of factors can cause relapse. Usually, there’s a clear link between addiction to alcohol or other drugs and personal difficulties. But what are the stages of relapse?
Emotional problems characterize the first stage of relapse. During this stage, the person is not actively considering using drugs or alcohol. However, they will begin to experience emotional ‘triggers’ which could lead to relapse down the line.
Common signs of emotional relapse include:
- Bottling up feelings and emotions
- Defensive behaviors
- Poor self-care
- The outward projection of emotions
- Not asking for help
While the recovery process is emotionally taxing by nature, when these emotions become all-consuming, the risk of further relapse is further increased.
Failing to address or act on the signs of emotional relapse can lead to mental relapse. Mental relapse is when a person begins actively thinking about using again. This stage involves conflicted feelings towards substance abuse.
Mental relapse is characterized by:
- Intense cravings
- A sense of hopelessness
- Rationalizing substance use
- Fantasizing about using
- Glamorizing past drug or alcohol use
The mental stage of relapse is a difficult and pivotal time for a recovering addict. Reaching out at this stage can mean a turning point in the process.
Physical relapse is when a person abandons their recovery goals and uses drugs or alcohol again. This is the final stage of relapse.
Physical relapse is defined by:
- Using drugs and alcohol
- Acceptance of addiction
- Re-associating with other addicts
- Rejecting intervention
- Feelings of self-loathing
Support during recovery is crucial. By reaching out and addressing relapse at the early stages, people have a much better chance of staying sober and achieving their recovery goals.
Stages of Relapse Explained
So, that’s the three stages of relapse explained.
It is important to recognize when someone is at risk of relapse. That way, positive practices can be implemented to guide them back onto the road to recovery.
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