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Relapse Prevention – What are the stages of relapse?

If you or a loved one is struggling with addiction, help is available. Speak with a Recovery Advocate by calling (855) 602-7202 now.

The best argument for never starting down the path toward substance use is that addiction is a complicated, chronic disease. Setbacks in recovery are a reality for many people as there is no cure for addiction. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, 40 to 60 percent of substance users relapse at least once during recovery. Relapse does not mean that you have failed, but for many people, it is part of their recovery journey. Many people struggling with addiction will likely experience periods of sobriety and relapse.

The Stages of Relapse

One thing that is understood now about addiction is that there are steps leading toward relapse, just like there are steps for getting sober. In fact, relapse is not one single moment, but a series of mental and physical triggers that cause people to fall off the wagon. Learning to spot the three stages of relapse means that you may be able to seek support before the relapse occurs. Be alert for the following three signs of a pending relapse:

  1. Emotional Relapse: Emotional relapse is when you begin isolating yourself from other people and skipping recovery meetings. Look for bottled up emotions and disruption in your sleeping and eating patterns.
  2. Mental Relapse: Mental relapse comes after a long period of failing to take care of your physical and emotional health. You may start craving drugs or alcohol and feel angry and out-of-sorts. These feelings feed the urge to use again, and you may start to think more about the people and places tied to your past substance use. This may even lead to behaviors like buying a bottle of alcohol and staring at it, in a kind of planned relapse.
  3. Physical Relapse: In this final stage of relapse, you are actually using again. You may find yourself wondering how in the world you got here and feel that you let everyone down.

Recognizing Triggers

Starting down the slippery slope toward relapse occurs due to certain triggers that you may not even at first recognize. External triggers could be the people or places that you have associated with substance use. You may run into an old friend who is still using or you may be at a party and someone offers you a drink. Any of these events could start you down the relapse path. Or, a stressful situation like being fired or going out on a blind date could all be triggers that cause you to begin craving old behaviors. The important thing here is that you recognize these signs for what they are and then head them off before the relapse occurs.

More than anything else, remember this. You are not alone in feeling these things and help is just one phone call away. To learn more about admissions, contact The Recovery Village Ridgefield today.