Relapse prevention planning for addiction to alcohol and substance abuseAug 20th, 2012 | By Dr. Jeffrey Huttman Ph.D. | Category: Addiction Treatment
Let’s discuss what causes a relpase
Overcoming drug or alcohol addiction is a long process with many steps.
After stopping substance abuse or drinking alcohol, going through withdrawal and completing an addiction recovery program, you or an addict you know will need to fight against relapse. Understanding relapse and knowing how to prevent it is an essential part of addiction recovery.
The Three Stages of Addiction Recovery Relapse
Relapse isn’t a one-time event that occurs in a weak moment.
It is something that starts much, much earlier than that one moment. Many recovering addicts don’t take action until they have a physical relapse, but this stage actually takes place long after relapse starts to take over.
The first stage is emotional relapse. In this stage, you’re not thinking about drinking or using drugs, but you’re definitely in an emotional place where it’s possible. Your feelings and behaviors are creating the conditions for a relapse. During emotional relapse, you’re feeling anxious and angry. You may be experiencing mood swings and feel a bit defensive about your habits. You’re not supporting your body with proper sleeping or eating habits. In short, you’re re-visiting the emotions you had before you started abusing drugs and alcohol.
The following stage is mental relapse. At this stage, you’re fighting with yourself over using drugs and alcohol. Part of you wants to stay sober, but part of you doesn’t. You think about using more and more frequently. You’ll glamorize your past use, start hanging out with old friends, think about the places you used to go when you used – you’re setting the mental stage for a relapse.
Finally, there’s a physical relapse, the point where you actually go to get your drug of choice and use it. It’s very difficult to stop yourself from relapsing at this point because you’ve got the emotional and mental foundation for relapse. But this is the phase where most recovering addicts put their attention.
How to Stop Addiction Recovery Relapse
In order to stop addiction recovery relapse, you need to recognize and prevent the early signs of relapse. Some of the warning signs can be:
• Isolating yourself instead of asking for help.
• Avoiding relaxation techniques.
• Continuing to eat poorly and sleep poorly.
• Obsessing over the past and reliving old memories.
• Hanging out with people or going places where you used.
If find yourself slipping down the path of mental or emotional relapse, you don’t have to go all of the way to physical relapse. You can practice self care, tell someone you’re having urges to use, distract yourself with fun activities and get the support you need.
Relapse doesn’t have to be part of addiction recovery if you don’t let it. Recognize the three stages and stop yourself from reaching physical relapse by getting help.