The 3 Stages of Relapse
A relapse typically doesn’t occur as a spur-of-the-moment event. In most cases, there are three main stages of relapsing. Understanding these stages, and what to do when they occur, can help stop a relapse before it takes effect.
The 3 stages of relapse include:
1. Emotional Relapse
During an emotional relapse, a person is not consciously thinking about drinking. However, their emotions and behaviors are setting the stage for a relapse.
During this stage, denial plays a big role. Many of the signs that occur during emotional relapse are also symptoms of post-acute withdrawal (PAWS). To help minimize the risk of relapse, it is important to recognize that many of the uncomfortable feelings you experience in early addiction recovery could be symptoms of PAWS.
Symptoms of PAWS include:
Foggy thinking/trouble remembering
Urges and cravings
Irritability or hostility
Sleep disturbances, such as insomnia or vivid dreams
Issues with fine motor coordination
Anxiety or panic
Lack of initiative
Impaired ability to focus
Emotional relapse warning signs include:
Anger and irritability
Bottling up emotions
Isolation and not asking for help
Not attending support groups (or attending and not sharing)
Poor self-care (not eating, sleeping, or practicing good personal hygiene)