The Various Stages of Relapse

relapseAre you new to recovery? Have you been recovered from addiction for more than ten years? Twenty years? No matter how far along you are in life without addiction, you're still at risk for relapse. It can happen to anyone at any time. It doesn't matter who or how. Our substance abuse treatment centers have seen even the most seasoned recovering addicts relapse without warning - or so it seemed. However, there are signs and symptoms of reverting back to using drugs or alcohol, before it actually happens.

Relapse is a potential part of all individuals who enter recovery for addiction. No matter how committed you are to living life sober, there's still a possibility that you'll have the urge to start using again. Following that, you might fall victim to the triggers that cause thoughts of using. Unfortunately, triggers will be all around you for the rest of your life; even when you least expect

Different Stages of Relapse

There are three stages to relapse. In today's article, we are going to talk about the different phases and how they can affect you. Learning about each stage might help you or someone you love recognize what's going on. That way, you can get help when it's needed, before it's too late.

Stage One of Relapse - Emotional

There are several symptoms and signs that go along with the first stage of relapse. An emotional phase will consist of the following behaviors:

  • Sudden lifestyle changes
  • Skipping after-care meetings
  • Seclusion
  • Refraining from asking for help
  • Poor sleep routines
  • Poor eating habits
  • Mood swings
  • Intolerance
  • Inability to cope with feelings
  • Frustration
  • Emotionally overwhelmed
  • Defensiveness
  • Constant stress
  • Anxiety
  • Anger

This stage of relapse might come after a night out with friends. It might start during an argument with family or a bad day at work.Whatever the trigger is, we begin to feel trapped.

While it's only in the emotional stage, using is still there, in the back of our minds. It might haunt us until we enter the next stage.

If you're experiencing frustration, stress and anger, consider getting help. After-care is available for anyone who's suffered from addiction, no matter how long they've been recovered. Don't make the mistake of missing out on getting help during this first stage. If you do choose to fight this phase, you'll rule out any danger of moving into the second phase.

Stage Two of Relapse - Mental

The second phase of relapse comes after you give in to the emotional stage. You're stressed, tired, eating poorly or angry for having to deal with these emotions. You refuse to go to a meeting because you're either mad at yourself, embarrassed by your feelings or both. The mental part of relapse comes when you actually think about using drugs or alcohol. When this happens, you're very close to entering into the final stage. The following symptoms and signs come with the second stage of relapse:

  • Thinking about the places you frequented when using
  • Thinking about relapsing and whether or not you will give in
  • Starting to hang out with old friends that helped feed your addiction
  • Planning out how you could use without anyone knowing
  • Lying to yourself
  • Lying to others
  • Idealizing your past use of drugs or alcohol
  • Daydreaming about using drugs or alcohol to relax

We know that anxiety and stress play a major part in this stage. Remember your therapy sessions during this time. Remember what it's like to fight stress and emotions. You can cope with them still. You just have to look past the urge to use drugs. During this time, it's essential you stay far away from triggers, if possible. Talk to your friends and family. Tell them what you're dealing with. Don't be ashamed. You'll be able to fight harder with a great support team behind you.

If you fail to fight the mental thoughts of using, it's likely you'll quickly enter into the final stage of relapse. To get a head-start on steering clear or relapse in any stage, consider leaning on substance abuse treatment centers for help.

Third Stage of Relapse - Physical

The physical relapse phase involves surrendering to the stress and anxiety, thoughts of drug use and inability to overcome the urge to use drugs. In addition, using drugs again becomes a reality. It’s no longer a thought in the back of your mind. The urge that you’re trying to fight becomes reality. You're now physically using drugs or alcohol. This is a new problem that must be considered in a different light.

Even if you only use one time, you're vulnerable again. Addiction becomes more of an obsession than anything. The first time you use drugs or alcohol after recovery you'll be hooked quicker than before. Your body will remember the feeling.

One of the biggest steps of recovery is learning to deal with feelings and emotions that might have led you to drug or alcohol use in the first place. These things are most likely stemming from an actual problem you’re having in life. Remember the techniques and tools you learned in recovery. Fight your problems. Face them, head-on. Don't let a stressful job or family argument throw you back into using. It's not worth losing everything you've gained so far.

It's important to learn about the various stages of relapse so that you might catch a problem before it starts. Relapse doesn't mean we have to continue on into another addiction. Even if you've only used a couple of times, you can still get help. Just as we did when we decided to enter recovery for addiction, we have a choice to stop using a second time, and recommit to recovery. Using drugs during recovery is a serious problem, but it’s not something that we can’t overcome. It’s not a predetermination that we must be an addict for life.

Substance Abuse Treatment Centers in NC and OH

If you’re suffering from an addiction and need help, consider contacting our substance abuse treatment centers in NC and OH. Addiction isn’t something that can be beaten easily. Often it requires extensive rehab and support. Legacy Freedom is here to offer both to you, when you’re ready. Addiction can leave you feeling sad, lonely, and angry. You are not alone. Legacy Freedom is here to help you get back on track to a happier, healthy, drug free life. Contact us to learn more.

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