Addiction Relapse Prevention
An essential part of drug and alcohol addiction treatment is learning the life skills and day-to-day tools needed to keep recovery going and avoid temptations and challenges that can weaken commitment to sobriety. But no one can control every moment of every day and the way people and circumstances enter our lives and affect us. Adhering to a relapse prevention program is important — for the times when life doesn’t go our way.
How Relapse Can Happen
Contrary to popular belief, addiction relapse isn’t a response to a singular event but more an escalation of emotions and responses to triggers over time. Relapse is a process that presents in a succession of stages. If you and those who care about know the signs, it can assist in stopping the progression before it goes too far.
The stages of addiction relapse are broken down into three parts: emotional, mental and physical. Although there is no set timeframe in how these develop, the order in which the stages occur is the standard sequence.
This is the first part of relapse and the characteristics are much like the reasons people turn to drug and alcohol use in the first place, before addiction sets in. These aspects are centered in feelings, can be subconscious, and exhibited in a general sense, not due to a specific event.
- Anxiousness or agitation
- Anger or resentful
- Preferring isolation
- Lack of focus or concentration
- Reverting back to unhealthy eating and sleeping habits
Once a person has experienced the emotional triggers as a prelude to relapse, the mental aspects kick in. In this phase, the emotions come to life through thoughts about life during active addiction and a desire to relive those days.
- Retracing the places and remembering the people you used with, fondly
- Wanting to reconnect with old friends that used with you
- Having the desire to revisit former hangouts where use took place
- Visualizing the use of your drug of choice
- Lying to yourself about the ability to control use
The escalation of phase two into this final phase can occur as fast as the flip of a switch. There is merit to the paraphrase ‘Thoughts become words that become action‘. The physical component of relapse is the act of doing it, again.