Emotional & Physical Relapse in Addiction Recovery

Recovery from addiction takes a lot of hard work and consistency. The rewards are obviously incredible – better health, improved relationships, a better sense of self. Sobriety, however, is a long journey that involves lots of key choices on a daily basis. Making these choices consistently will sometimes be a struggle. In the journey of addiction recovery, relapse can be a challenging setback. It can occur in two forms: emotional and physical relapse.

Emotional relapse involves internal struggle and negative emotions that may lead to a return to addictive behaviours. Physical relapse refers to the actual act of engaging in substance use again. In this guide, we’ll look at the early warning signs, coping strategies, triggers, and prevention plans for emotional and physical relapse, emphasising the importance of seeking support and professional help. As we have been helping people who struggle with drug and alcohol addiction over the span of 25 years, we’re confident in our ability to offer guidance during challenging moments to make the journey towards sobriety a consistently rewarding one.
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Recognising the Early Warning Signs

Both emotional and physical relapse produce early symptoms both you and your loved ones can notice.

Emotional relapse may manifest as:

  • Increased irritability
  • nxiousness
  • Feelings of isolation
  • Intense mood swings
  • Breaking one’s daily routine and sleeping issues
  • Refusing assistance

The signs of physical relapse include:

  • Cravings
  • Changes in sleep patterns
  • Neglecting self-care
  • Having a false sense of control over one’s substance use (I’ll do it just once)

It is crucial to be aware of these indicators and take appropriate action immediately. Engaging in healthy coping mechanisms, such as practising self-care, attending support group meetings, or contacting a therapist, can help mitigate the risk of relapse. Early recognition and intervention are key to maintaining sobriety and achieving long-term recovery. Stay vigilant and prioritise your well-being.

Coping Strategies for Emotional Relapse

An effective way to manage the emotional strain that can lead to relapse is by practising healthy coping strategies. These strategies can help individuals in addiction recovery navigate difficult emotions and keep them from relapsing. One coping strategy is to engage in regular exercise, which can help reduce stress while improving one’s mood. Additionally, practising relaxation techniques such as deep breathing or meditation can promote emotional well-being and provide a sense of calm. Seeking support from a therapist or a support group is another valuable coping strategy, as it allows individuals to share their struggles and receive guidance from others who have been through similar experiences. Finally, engaging in activities that bring joy and fulfilment, such as hobbies or spending time with loved ones, can help distract from negative emotions and provide a sense of purpose in recovery. By implementing these coping strategies, individuals can better manage emotional relapse and maintain sobriety.

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Identifying Triggers for Physical Relapse

To identify the triggers for a physical relapse, pay close attention to your surroundings and the people you interact with on a daily basis. Triggers can vary from person to person, but some common ones include being in places associated with past substance use, being around people who actively use drugs or alcohol, and experiencing high stress levels or negative emotions. To maintain sobriety, you have to recognise these triggers and develop a plan to avoid or cope with them. This may involve changing your social circle, avoiding certain locations or events, and finding healthier ways to manage stress and emotions. It can also be helpful to seek support from a therapist or support group to navigate these challenges and stay on track in your recovery journey. At Providence Projects, we aim to tailor programmes to individual needs for the most personalised and holistic recovery.

We understand the strength required to continue making positive steps on a daily basis. All of our team members have the knowledge, empathy and passion to accompany you on that journey and help you conquer the challenges.

Developing a Relapse Prevention Plan

Developing a relapse prevention plan involves identifying personal triggers and implementing strategies to avoid or cope with them. One important aspect of developing a relapse prevention plan is recognising the emotional triggers that may lead to relapse. These triggers can include stress, negative emotions, and certain social situations. By identifying these triggers, individuals can develop strategies, including steps like stress-reducing techniques or seeking support from a therapist or support group. Having a solid support system in place, including friends, family, or a sponsor, can provide invaluable assistance in preventing relapse. While developing a relapse prevention plan can be challenging and even triggering, it’s one of the keys towards maintaining sobriety in the long run.

Seeking Support and Professional Help

At The Providence Projects, we want to stress the significance of having a strong support system to help you maintain sobriety and steer clear of relapse. Your journey to recovery is greatly aided by professionals like therapists, counsellors, and support groups who can offer guidance and effective coping strategies. Equally crucial is the unwavering support from your loved ones, who can provide emotional backing, create a secure and understanding environment, and assist in holding you accountable. Building this combined support network is key to your ongoing sobriety and minimising the risk of relapse. We’re here to help you on this journey.

Between 60% to 85% of people experience a relapse of their addiction in a year after finishing a programme at a rehabilitation centre. The challenge of remaining free from the grips of your addiction...