3 Stages of Alcohol Relapse and How to Come Out of Them
Relapse happens more often than you think. To tell you the truth, alcoholism is related to a high risk of relapse. It’s common for recovering addicts to relapse, not once but multiple times before they achieve lifelong sobriety. You can always come out of it again.
Difference between ‘slip’ and ‘relapse’
Slip denotes a single episode of drinking during your recovery program. You can easily overcome this. Attend meetings that offer a strong support system.
Relapse is the return to your old drinking pattern. Chances are high that you may stop attending meetings and other therapy programs.
What do experts say about this?
According to the Director of Research Institute on Addictions, relapse is associated with interpersonal conflict and negative emotions. Sometimes, it is associated with positive emotions like celebrating after a successful recovery program.
You must know your triggers and have a strategy to deal with them. However, life does not always go as predicted. There come unexpected situations that may take you off guard.
According to experts, relapse can happen at any stage of recovery. However, those in the early stage are more at risk. Yet, studies have shown that people who successfully completed their recovery programs also relapsed!
That’s why many experts are of the view that you must continue to have a strong support system after recovery. AA meetings, in this case, can prove to be helpful.
Experts also say that relapse does not happen overnight. It happens in stages. If you are alert, you can take the necessary steps in the first or second stage to avoid a complete relapse.
A study released in the Yale Journal of Biology and Medicine has outlined these stages.
- First stage: Emotional Relapse
You may get mood swings, become anxious, intolerant, angry, or want to be left alone. If you are already struggling from poor eating and sleeping patterns, this can add fuel to the fire.
It is highly likely that you stop attending meetings or other programs. If you don’t get support at this time, you will enter the next stage.
What to do:
As much as possible, continue to attend local AA meetings near you and share your problem. Even if you don’t desire to, drag yourselves to the meeting or program. This is an effective way to fight emotional relapse.
- Second stage: Mental relapse
If you fail to do the needful at the first stage, you enter the second stage. Now, you start “missing” those “good old days.” You decide to return to alcohol.
What to do:
You still have time. Talk to a therapist. Do aggressive counseling. Address your emotional issues. Act fast before it materializes into actual drinking.
- Third stage: Physical relapse
You start drinking like before. You re-visit those same places and friends where you drank.
What to do:
It’s your choice again. Remember the 12 steps and the 12 traditions of AA. Rejoin the meeting and/or a detox and recovery program.
It is possible to recover again after relapse.