The Three Stages of Relapse
Recovery is an active process, and it requires a daily commitment. While relapse may seem spontaneous, there are stages leading up to the event.
Emotional relapse is the beginning phase of relapse that occurs when a person is not actively working on their sobriety. A person experiencing emotional relapse may not be attending to or managing their emotions, which puts them at risk of a mental and physical relapse. Examples of emotional relapse can include:
- Not attending or sharing at meetings
- Not reaching out to support systems
- Poor self-care
Mental relapse is the second phase, which can occur when one’s emotions are not being regulated in a healthy way. It is when someone is considering using alcohol or drugs. Signs of a mental relapse include but are not limited to:
- Glamorizing past drug use
- Hanging out with individuals who use
- Having cravings
- Planning situations in which it is acceptable to use
- Looking for situations to relapse
If a person fails to confront and deal with their mental and emotional relapse symptoms, their risk of a physical relapse increases. A physical relapse is the intentional act of using drugs or alcohol. If this occurs, it does not mean recovery has irreversibly failed. You can seek treatment before the relapse becomes unmanageable, or even immediately after the point of physical relapse.