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Three Phases of Relapse

stages of relapseAs with any chronic disease, relapse is a reality. In fact, roughly 40 to 60 percent of people who complete addiction treatment will relapse, especially within the first crucial year. This is why so many drug rehabs make relapse prevention a top priority. Relapse is complicated — and it can happen gradually with a lot of warning signs. For a person in recovery, this means that you must constantly monitor your thoughts, feelings and behaviors for any potential problems.

To help you better understand the warning signs, here we take a look at three phases of relapse:

Emotional Relapse: During an emotional relapse, you’re not thinking about using again. Instead, you’re experiencing oft-overwhelming emotions and behaviors that might set you up for a possible relapse in the future. This includes:

  • Restlessness
  • Irritability and discontentment
  • Anxiety
  • Intolerance
  • Anger
  • Defensiveness
  • Mood swings
  • Fatigue
  • Isolation
  • Not asking for help
  • Skipping support groups
  • Poor eating habits
  • Insomnia or other sleep issues

Mental RelapseWhen you begin to struggle with your emotions and start feeling distress, this is the beginning of mental relapse. During this stage, you’ll likely experience urges and deal with an internal tug of war between these desires and persistent thoughts and the hard work and dedication it took to get sober and work recovery. Signs of mental relapse include:

  • Hanging out with old friends and acquaintances you used to use with.
  • Feeling nostalgia for times when you used.
  • Constant thinking about past people, places and activities that centered on drug or alcohol use.
  • Thinking up discrete ways to use without family and friends finding out.
  • A constant stream of thought about using again.

Physical RelapsePhysical relapse occurs shortly after the mental relapse stage. It’s not just a slip but a return to substance use and a pattern of dysfunctional behavior. Some people refer to a physical relapse as a “slip that got out of control.” Physical relapse is the most dangerous stage and can even be fatal. That said, it doesn’t have to signify the end of recovery.

A Holistic Approach to Relapse Prevention We understand that relapse isn’t something that occurs suddenly, nor is it a moral failure. At Makana Path, our clients learn coping skills and strategies so they can bounce back after a relapse or prevent relapse altogether. To learn more about our chronic relapse program, call us today: 866-922-0776.