What Is Relapse?
It can sometimes be difficult for someone with an addiction to understand or accept that they might be going through the process of a relapse.
Addiction is like a chronic condition. Conditions flare up over time and relapse is exactly like this – the addiction may flare up again. For some people, this may be part of the recovery process, with overcoming relapse or urges to relapse becoming another step in recovery and treatment. It is important here to remember that a relapse is not the end of recovery!
Stages of Relapse
Something that not many people may realise, is that addiction relapse doesn’t often just suddenly happen overnight. Relapse, much like recovery, is an extended process that may happen over days or even months.
Before what is known as a physical relapse, which would lead someone back to the addictive substance, there is something that is known as a spiritual or emotional relapse, which would come first. This emotional relapse may look different depending on the person, but there is generally a noticeable difference to those around you.
Although it’s not the same for every person, a spiritual relapse may occur after a period of time where you feel disconnected, isolated, or generally not quite right. Over time these feelings may result in resentment or other emotions and behaviours that may remind you of your past or previous addictions.
This change can happen quite quickly, but when a person engages in these behaviours or emotions they are considered to have already relapsed at a spiritual or emotional level. This may then lead to a physical relapse, especially if combined with other triggers.
How to Find Out if You Have Relapsed
It may be more noticeable to your support system that you have relapsed, especially during the emotional stages of spiritual relapse, which is another reason that having a good support system around you is so important during recovery.
Your loved ones may often be able to act as a second pair of ears and eyes that can be vital to your continuing recovery. If there have been some changes in your behaviour or emotions, these may be signs to those around you of emotional relapse.
Triggers can include any kind of anniversary, birthday, or event that may have happened in your life previously and negatively affected you. It may be that one of these past events was the beginning of your addiction!
If you feel you have noticed changes or have experienced a trigger point and are in relapse, whether emotional or physical relapse, talk to those around you and stay connected to your support network.
What to Do if This Is the Case
There are a few things that you can do to try and help kickstart your recovery process again if you are in a relapse period.
Stay connected to those around you. This may be loved ones, friends, or a support group you attend, but it is important to surround yourself with positivity!
Taking part in activities with others can also be a way to occupy your mind in other ways. Going for a walk with a friend or taking part in a class of some kind may be beneficial to you.
It is also important to be open-minded to treatment and the recovery process again. This may mean taking time away from the world in a rehabilitation centre for example.
This Is Not Failure!
Relapse is not a sign of failure!
This is a flare-up in your recovery process, and it might bring about feelings of guilt and shame, but this is your opportunity to admit your relapse and take time to reflect. Learn more about what your triggers may be and how you can try to avoid these in the future. It is also an opportunity to re-evaluate your treatment support.