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What Is Relapse? A Guide for Recovery and Beyond

man wondering what is relapse

A relapse is defined as a period of deterioration that happens after a pattern of improvement. In treatment for substance use disorder, relapse occurs when someone in recovery drinks or uses substances again. Consequently, relapse is not an indicator of failure, but it is a serious bump in the road to recovery. At The Right Step, our goal is to help you through all stages of your recovery, which includes relapse. Our substance abuse treatment programs are designed to help you overcome all stages of addiction so you can continue to live the sober life you have always dreamed of.

What Causes Relapse?

Relapse takes place in stages when someone strays from their learned recovery behaviors. Eventually, resolve weakens because it is not actively being boosted. As a result, cravings and the desire to use may reappear. Unfortunately, most people who enter the stages of relapse eventually succumb, but this does not mean they cannot get back on the right path through a relapse prevention therapy program.

Stage One: Emotional Relapse

To ward off the first stage of relapse, maintain strong ties with the recovery community through an alumni program, and actively work on your recovery plan. Generally, emotional relapse begins when you stop doing those activities that empower you as someone in recovery. Symptoms include:

  • Attending meetings but not sharing or mingling with others
  • Skipping meetings altogether
  • Allowing yourself to get run down, bored, overly stressed, or tired
  • Cutting ties with your mentor or sponsor
  • Isolating yourself
  • Not taking time to have sober fun
  • Refusing to reach out for help

Stage Two: Mental Relapse

Those who ignore or cannot recognize the signs of emotional relapse may progress into mental relapse as a result. In this stage, there is a war going on inside your mind. You want to use substances again but you do not. For example, signs of mental relapse include:

  • Re-establishing relationships with negative influences from the past
  • Remembering the old party days fondly
  • Bargaining with yourself to have just one drink or use just one time
  • The return of cravings
  • Minimizing the impact of past drug or alcohol abuse

Stage Three: Physical Relapse

Someone who enters stage three uses substances again. They take that first drink or pop that first pill and are then immediately helpless to stop. At this stage, it is imperative to ask for help to stop the entire cycle from repeating.

Can You Come Back From Relapse?

You can absolutely pull yourself out of relapse, but it usually takes professional intervention and help from an addiction treatment center to do so. Therefore, contact a drug and alcohol treatment center right away to enter back into treatment. Consequently, there is no shame in relapsing. It happens to many people every day. If it happens to you, ask The Right Step for help. We can help you form a relapse prevention plan for full recovery.

Contact The Right Step

In general, the only way to avoid relapsing is to work your recovery behaviors every day. For example, manage your stress, take good care of yourself, and surround yourself with positive and inspirational influences. Important tasks include:

  • Eating well
  • Getting enough sleep each night
  • Managing your stress in healthy ways
  • Attending meetings faithfully and actively participating
  • Keeping your counseling appointments
  • Staying in close touch with mentors and sponsors
  • Avoiding people and places that act as triggers

As someone in recovery, relapse a condition you must constantly guard against. Additionally, you must actively work toward recovery. Every day, every hour, for the rest of your life. And if you need help, call The Right Step today at 17135283709.

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