Recovery from addiction is a complicated and ongoing process, and the possibility of relapse is always present. Relapse occurs when a person in recovery experiences a setback and reverts to their addictive behavior. While relapse can be discouraging, you must recognize that it is a normal part of the recovery process and does not mean the person has failed.
What Are the 10 Stages of Relapse?
There are ten stages of relapse, each with its own set of warning signs and behaviors. Learn more about these stages so that you can help individuals in recovery recognize when they are at risk of relapse and take steps to prevent it.
Emotional relapse is characterized by experiencing negative emotions such as anger, anxiety, or sadness.
They may withdraw from their support system, stop attending meetings or therapy sessions, and stop practicing self-care.
At this stage, an individual begins to think about using drugs or alcohol again. They may romanticize their past substance use and start to minimize the negative consequences it had on their life.
Craving is characterized by an intense desire to use drugs or alcohol, which can be triggered by various factors such as stress, negative emotions, or environmental cues.
During this stage, the individual may actively seek out triggers or situations that could lead to relapse. This can include visiting places associated with past substance use, spending time with old-using friends, or engaging in activities previously linked to drug or alcohol use.
Here, the individual begins using drugs or alcohol again. This can be a single event or can occur over some time.
Several factors can contribute to physical relapse, including exposure to triggers or high-risk situations, lack of social support, and underlying mental health issues. Relapse does not necessarily mean treatment has failed or the individual is weak or flawed.
Loss of Control
During this stage, the individual may feel they have lost control over their substance use.
They may start to use drugs or alcohol more frequently, in larger amounts, or in situations where they had previously been able to abstain.
Continued Use Despite Negative Consequences
The individual continues to use drugs or alcohol despite adverse consequences such as legal, financial, or social problems.
During this stage, the individual may begin to rationalize their substance use, making excuses or justifying their behavior to themselves and others.
Denial is when the individual refuses to acknowledge the severity of their substance use and its negative impact on their lives and those around them.
During this stage, individuals may avoid situations or people that remind them of their substance use or trigger cravings.
The final relapse phase is the ultimate return to active substance use.
It is important to note that relapse does not mean that the person has failed in their recovery journey, but rather that they may need additional support and resources to continue their path towards sobriety.
Recognizing the warning signs of relapse and seeking help early can increase the chances of successful recovery. This can include attending support groups, therapy, or medication-assisted treatment.
It is also crucial for individuals in recovery to practice self-care, maintain a healthy support system, and have a relapse prevention plan.