Emotional relapse is often the first stage of relapse, and it occurs before someone in recovery even begins to consider using again. The individual usually starts to experience negative emotional responses, such as anger, moodiness and anxious feelings. They also may begin to experience erratic eating and sleeping habits, and their desire for recovery often wanes due to a lack of using their support systems. These are the initial warning signs that a person in recovery could be entering the process of relapse, and it is important to recognize them as quickly as possible. This stage occurs before a person is even aware that they could be in danger of relapse, and intervening now before they enter mental relapse can prevent the issue from taking hold.
Mental relapse is the second stage of the process. This is often a time of internal struggle for a person in recovery, as part of them wants to remain on the road to long-term sobriety; however, that part of them is embattled in a tug-of-war of sorts with another side that wants to return to using. There may always a part of a person that wants to use again, which is why addiction is considered to be a chronic condition. As this phase of the relapse process progresses, direct thoughts about using eventually arise, and at this point, it’s very difficult to stop the process. When someone dealing with addiction decides they are going to use, it’ usually just a matter of time until they do it.
Enjoy! xoxo Lynn