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Everything You Need to Know About Emotional Relapse

Person thinking about what they need to know about emotional relapse

Did you know that there are warning signs that come before a relapse into drug or alcohol abuse? A relapse happens in stages. The first stage is known as “emotional relapse”—but what should you know about emotional relapse for addiction? As you or your loved one overcome substance abuse and complete addiction treatment programs, you’ll find that triggers for relapse can be subtle and complex to recognize. Contact Northpoint Recovery online or call 208.486.0130 today to take a closer look at what emotional relapse is, its warning signs, and the steps you can take to prevent it.

The Stages of Relapse

Addiction is a chronic and recurring disease of the brain. This means people recovering from any substance abuse disorder (SUD) have to remain constantly vigilant if they want to avoid relapsing into active drinking and drug use. Creating a personal relapse prevention plan is crucial to any successful recovery program. However, learning the stages of relapse is also essential to staying clean and sober.

Addiction relapse stages include the following:

  • Emotional relapse
  • Mental relapse
  • Physical relapse

Mental relapse occurs when you start thinking about using drugs or drinking again. Physical relapse, of course, happens once you’ve already started using substances again. Emotional relapse is the first stage that sets the stage for a full-blown physical relapse.

What You Should Know About Emotional Relapse

In this earliest stage, you have not even started to think about using or drinking. Instead, you start feeling negative emotions that cause you to act self-destructively. Even when you are sober and abstaining, some of the aspects of your disease can still impact your life.

What Are the Warning Signs of Emotional Relapse?

Some of the dangerous emotions to watch out for include:

  • Anxiety – Excessive fear, worry, or uncertainty about your sober new life
  • Depression – Overwhelming sadness, loss of appetite, no motivation
  • Intolerance – Poor cooperation with others, an uncompromising attitude, or rigid, inflexible opinions
  • Anger – Resentment or hostility that flares up whenever expectations are not met
  • Defensiveness – Intensely rejecting any criticism
  • Mood swings – An inability to control one’s feelings and reactions; unpredictable emotional volatility

Rehab aftercare programs and relapse prevention plans can help, as well as continuing support and care. Fellowship with other recovering addicts and alcoholics can be a significant source of strength and inspiration, but it can only work if someone works on it.

What Comes After Emotional Relapse?

Emotional relapse sets the stage for a mental relapse. This is when the recovering individual is torn between conflicting desires to maintain sobriety and going back to substance abuse. After mental relapse comes physical relapse, when the person actively returns to substance abuse and a pattern of dysfunctional behaviors. Physical relapse is the most dangerous stage since the person often drops out of treatment at this point. Because of the progressive nature of addiction, an untreated relapse can be fatal.

How Do You Avoid Emotional Relapse for Addiction?

A person in addiction recovery must:

  • Avoid the people, places, things, and emotions that can potentially trigger a relapse
  • Constantly monitor your thoughts, feelings, and behaviors for any potential problems
  • Create a relapse prevention plan that helps you address issues before they become significant problems
  • Likewise, create a relapse response strategy that helps you get back on the right track if you stumble

Watching out for emotional relapse is an effective prevention strategy. Being able to recognize signs of emotional relapse is an important skill to master because it helps you see red flags that could jeopardize your efforts at sobriety. There are things you can do to safeguard your sobriety.

Work on Addiction Treatment at Northpoint Recovery

Relapse is not inevitable, and it doesn’t happen immediately, with no warning. By remaining vigilant and practicing awareness, you can learn to recognize the stages of relapse and take the appropriate action to safeguard your continued sobriety. Contact Northpoint Recovery online or call 208.486.0130 to learn more about triggers for relapse and its stages.