What makes so many people think that relapse is the unavoidable, predictable outcome for every person with substance use disorder? Is it true that “relapse is part of recovery”? While it is true that the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) reports that 40 to 60% of people treated for substance use disorders relapse, that doesn’t mean that a relapse has to be part of your story or that it’s an inescapable fact that you’re destined to face. While it is an unfortunately common occurrence, knowing some of the red flags that lead to relapse can help you avoid it.
Get to Know The Three Stages of Relapse
Once you know your triggers for relapse, the next thing you might want to learn about is the 3 stages of relapse. That’s because when most people in recovery are triggered, they initially fight to keep sober until they eventually succumb to their temptations.
Phase One: Emotional Relapse
During this phase, drug addicts are in denial, yet do not have thoughts of using yet. They may instead be holding back their emotions, living in isolation, avoiding their recovery meetings, projecting their negative feelings on others, and displaying self-sabotaging behaviors. For these reasons, it’s important for recovering addicts experiencing emotional relapses to identify their denial and focus on self-improvement.
Phase Two: Mental Relapse
Mental relapse involves justification between wanting to use while at the same time knowing that you shouldn’t. You may underestimate the dangers of your external triggers and think you’ll use “just once” and give yourself permission to try a substance in a way you think is controlled, but then continue upping the frequency of your use until you’ve had a full-blown relapse. If you are in therapy, you can discuss your coping mechanisms with your therapist to manage your cravings and talk through these thoughts during a mental relapse.
Signs of mental relapse include:
- Intense cravings for substances
- External triggers becoming overwhelming
- Rationalizing how you will control your substance use
Phase Three: Physical Relapse
The culmination of an emotional and mental relapse: This is when you actually have begun using your substance of choice again. Physical relapses are the most challenging phase to overcome, because you have become physically and psychologically addicted once again, and likely have falsely justified in your mind that your substance use will cause no lingering harm.
What Do I Do if I’m in One of the Phases of a Relapse?
If you’ve fallen back into your old patterns, you might need to go back to a drug and alcohol rehab program, whether you’re in the first, second, or third phase of relapse. That way, you can get a deeper emphasis on intensive therapy so you can learn new behavioral responses to your distorted thought processes previously mentioned in this blog. Once you complete treatment, you can continue to use the strategies you learn in rehab to maintain your sobriety and keep your internal and external triggers at bay so you can cope with your negative feelings in a more productive, healthy way.
Seek Help: Contact Us at Mount Sinai Wellness Center Today.
If you’re struggling with cravings or have already had a full-blown relapse, don’t despair. Plenty of recovering addicts before you have been in your shoes and have maintained lasting sobriety after they got their high the last time. You can be our next success story at Mount Sinai Wellness Center. We are eager to help you get clean and find meaning in a brighter future.
To contact Mount Sinai Wellness Center, call (800) 353-4673 or reach out online and we’ll be in touch ASAP.