According to studies conducted by the National Institute on Drug Abuse, men experience relapses more frequently than women do after completing treatment programs for drug addiction. The main reason for this difference seems to be that women are more likely to seek outside assistance in the form of group counseling. Relapse happens and its OK! Whether you are dealing with drug or alcohol relapse prevention, staying sober is not something you do alone.You may be feeling isolated by the disease process itself, it is essential that you interact on a regular basis with other people who are able to recognize issues and offer support. It is very common to go to treatment more than once before you stay sober.

If you are struggling to stay sober but don’t feel you need treatment again. Call today. We can get you into detox and a sober living home.

How can I tell if I’m going to relapse:

The Stages of Relapse

Relapse is a process, it’s not an event. Relapse starts weeks or even months before the physical event of relapse.

There are three stages of relapse:

  • Emotional relapse
  • Mental relapse
  • Physical relapse

Emotional Relapse

In emotional relapse, you’re not necessarily thinking about using again. But your emotions and behaviors are setting you up for the possibility in the future.

Signs of emotional relapse are:

  • Anxiety
  • Intolerance
  • Anger
  •  Defensiveness
  • Mood swings
  • Isolation
  •  Not asking for help
  • Not having accountability
  • Poor eating habits
  • Poor sleep habits
  • Selfishness

This stage of relapse is easiest to pull back from if you catch it.

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Prevention at this stage:

Relapse prevention at this stage is as simple as recognizing that you’re in emotional relapse and changing your behavior. Recognize that you’ve isolated yourself and remind yourself to ask for help. Recognize that you’ve become anxious and practice relaxation. Recognize that your sleeping and eating habits are off and practice self-care.

If you don’t change your behavior at this stage you’ll become exhausted, and when you’re exhausted you will want to escape. This leads to the Mental Relapse.

Mental Relapse

In mental relapse there’s a war going on in your mind. You wants to use, but you don’t want to use. In the early phase of mental relapse you’re seldom thinking about using. But in the later phase, you’ve come close to the decision or have made the decistion to use again.

Signs of mental relapse are:

  • Thinking about people, places, and things you have used with
  • Glamorizing your past use
  • Lying
  • Hanging out with old friends who are using
  • Fantasizing about using
  • Thinking about relapsing
  • Planning your relapse

It gets harder to make the right choices as the pull of addiction gets stronger.

Prevention at at this stage:

Play the tape through! When you think about using, the fantasy is that you’ll be able to control your use this time. You’ll just have one drink. You’ll take just one pill. You’ll only do it once because you are in control! But play the tape through. One drink leads to more drinks. One pill leads to more pills. You know this, now believe it. The next day you will be disappointed in yourself. Then you will feel the guilt. You wont like these feelings and in order to escape them, you will use again. It may not be the next day but it will be very soon. Now you’re caught in the vicious cycle all over again. When you play that tape through to its logical conclusion, using won’t seem so appealing.

A common lie we tell ourselves is that we can get away with using, because no one will know if you relapse. That’s when your addiction will try to convince your problem isn’t that big, and that you’re really only sober to please your family. Play the tape through. Remember the negative consequences you’ve already suffered, and the negative consequences you will suffer if you relapse again. If you could control your use, you would have done it by now. You cannot control your use, what you can control is your sobriety! Don’t lose your sobriety!

Don’t be embarrassed if you are at this stage. Be proud that you have recognized this. Call a friend or someone in recovery. Share with them what you’re going through. The magic of sharing is that the minute you start to talk about what you’re thinking and feeling, your urges begin to disappear. Once you tell someone about these things,they tend to lose their power over you!

When you think about using, do something to occupy yourself. The urges WILL go away. If you just sit there with your urge and don’t do anything, you’re giving your mental relapse room to grow.

Most urges only last for less than 15 to 30 minutes, longer only if you don’t distract yourself. Yes, these urges feel like an eternity. But if you can keep yourself busy, it will quickly be gone.

If you sit in these urges we and allow them to grow you will then make it to the physical relapse.

Physical Relapse

The physical relapse. You are now driving to meet your dealer, or driving to the liquor store. You have made the decision. It is very hard to stop relapse at this point.  If you recognize the early warning signs of relapse, you can catch yourself before it’s too late.

Remember this though, addiction treatment is a growing process. If you have made it to the physical relapse it’s OK. You are not alone. You are not the only one. You did not fail. You tripped and its time to keep walking.

A half way house or sober livinghouse is a great way to stay sober! It helps you find that accountability that you so desperately need right now. Just remember that you are sick and sick people need help. Relapse is OK and you can and will get through this!

If you are struggling with addiction relapse prevention and need to talk to someone, call today for your options!