Relapse Definition: Part of the Addiction Cycle?

relapse from recovery - woman drinking unhappily
relapse from recovery - woman drinking unhappily

Relapse is a common and often disheartening part of the addiction recovery journey. For many, the emotions and triggers that lead to relapse can feel overwhelming and insurmountable. Feelings of shame, guilt, frustration, and hopelessness can creep in, making it difficult to stay on track. Understanding what relapse is and recognizing the emotional and psychological triggers can help individuals better navigate these challenging moments. Whether it’s stress, loneliness, or environmental cues, identifying these triggers is the first step towards developing effective coping strategies and maintaining long-term sobriety.

The Relapse Definition

The “Relapse” definition is commonly explained as using a drug after a period of sobriety, or the continued use of a substance despite it having been previously stopped.  Falling back into the addictive behaviors of drug or alcohol addiction means you will have to begin the addiction treatment process again. Relapse prevention and coping skills skill can improved upon with time, effort, and relapse and training. This article will go into more detail about these coping strategies.

Is Relapse Part of the Addiction Cycle?

Relapse is a common part of addiction recovery, but is it an expected part of the addiction cycle? According to statistics, anyone who has recovered from substance use disorders will likely have a relapse. Most relapses in addiction occur in the first year. People in recovery must be aware of the most common triggers for relapse. 

How many people in the United States relapse after drug addiction treatment? A recent survey concluded that 35.8% of people who had received treatment for their drug addiction reported having used again while in early recovery, or within one year of quitting. One-third of those who return to active addiction was able to stay sober for only 90 days. But there are ways that we might be able to reduce the numbers and help addicts.

Relapse Triggers

Reviewing the possible triggers that may lead to relapse will help a person avoid those triggers and prevent a relapse into unhealthy behavior. Regression usually occurs because of one or more of the following reasons:

  1. Withdrawal symptoms
  2. Underlying mental health issues
  3. Keeping in the company of drug users
  4. Poor self-care
  5. Boredom and isolation
  6. Uncomfortable emotions

Stages of Relapse

The relapse process is a cyclical one; if you are not educated about the stages of relapse, you will not be aware of the warning signs and find yourself giving into cravings eventually. There are three stages through which drug addicts usually go through when they relapse. These stages vary from addict to addict, but there are common factors present in all of them.

depressed-woman-with-whiskey-glass-crying-at-home

Emotional Relapse

Emotional relapse usually occurs when you remember your first relapse as a drug and alcohol user. The SUD to drugs and alcohol is immediately triggered by a memory of using the substance for the first time in a particular environment or situation. It usually happens with recovering addicts who use drugs and alcohol in social situations, such as family, friends, parties, etc. 

Signs of Emotional Relapse Include:

  1. Suppressing emotions
  2. Attending meetings but not engaging
  3. Skipping meetings or group therapy sessions
  4. Focusing on other’s problems
  5. Isolation
  6. Over or undersleeping 
  7. Eating problems

Knowing how to avoid emotional relapse is the best way to stay successful after rehab. Recovery from drug or alcohol abuse is nearly impossible unless you know how to prevent emotional relapse and keep your body safe from addiction. 

Mental Relapse

Mental relapse is a war within the mind. One side wants to eliminate negative emotions by using drugs and alcohol, while the other side doesn’t want to relapse. Resisting addiction relapse at this stage becomes more and more difficult as the sufferer retreats deeper into denial and isolation from their loved ones, mimicking relapse definition.

Signs of Mental Relapse Include:

  1. Reminiscing about past drug and alcohol use and addict lifestyle
  2. Craving drugs and alcohol
  3. Lying or bargaining
  4. Thinking of ways to control drug and alcohol use
  5. Seeking out opportunities to relapse
  6. Planning a relapse

Mental relapse is the most challenging time in recovery for the addict. They go through feelings of hopelessness and depression. It appears like they have lost everything. This is the time when they are at their most vulnerable and will need the support of their family and friends to help them get back on track.

hands breaking free of chains

Physical Relapse

Physical relapse is the act of returning to drug-seeking behaviors and may be accompanied by compulsively using drugs regardless of consequences. The ability to resist the compulsion can be impaired from prolonged drug abuse, repeated relapses, and episodes of being sober. 

The most obvious form of physical relapse is a return to drug use, but in some cases, it may occur in the form of a process not directly related to obtaining drugs. Experts say that physical progression is much more likely to happen if you “forget” to take your medications or otherwise get off your treatment program. This is often called “slipping” or going to “another level.”

Breaking the Cycle of Addiction

The road to recovery is not an easy one, but it is possible. And one day at a time, you’ll begin living a life you may never have thought possible. Deconditioning oneself from an addictive behavior requires commitment, motivation, and inner strength. Breaking the cycle of addiction is a tough job, but it can be done. The important thing to remember is that heroin addiction is not just a physical problem; it’s also an emotional one. It’s not unusual for someone who has become addicted to heroin to want to get clean and stay clean, yet find themselves unable to do so because they haven’t first dealt with all of their problems with love and support from family members and friends.

If you are struggling with substance abuse or just considering whether treatment is right for you, it’s important to understand the benefits of choosing help. The risks of not getting treatment can be devastating – financially, morally, socially, and even physically. Anchored Tides Recovery offers support groups that focus on relapse definition and prevention. Please contact us today at 1-866-524-6014 and get on the road to recovery. Our program will help you, or your loved one, find alternatives to replace unhealthy behaviors and learn life skills to maintain long-term sobriety.

OUR MISSION

Helping Women Recover

Anchored Tides Recovery’s goal is to provide comprehensive therapeutic and educational services to adult women in recovery from drug and alcohol addiction, mental health issues, and past trauma. We aim to help women learn to foster health, happiness, longevity, and self-reliance. Our goal is to provide an environment where women can achieve and sustain long-term recovery and become positive, thriving members of their communities.

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