You worked hard to reach recovery. But being sober does not mean that your journey is over. You’re proud that you were able to heal from your addiction to drugs or alcohol. But every once in a while, there’s a thought that gives you pause:
“What if I relapse?”
Whether it’s extra stress or getting pulled into an old routine, the thought of using again is happening more often. You start isolating yourself more and more as negative thoughts and crippling self-doubt take over. Luckily, there is a way to keep yourself from going further down this path towards relapse.
Did you know that before someone relapses, there are definite warning signs? Relapse happens in stages. And we’re going to explain everything you need to know about the first stage called, “emotional relapse”.
What is Emotional Relapse?
Think of emotional relapse as the behind-the-scenes trigger to destructive behavior. In this stage, you haven’t actually started thinking about using drugs or alcohol again. It’s just a resurfacing of negative emotions and stress that eventually lead you to contemplate drinking or using drugs again.
You might be thinking, “if it’s not using drugs or alcohol, why is this such a big deal?” The truth is, relapse can become a problem before any substances are taken. During emotional relapse, your negative thoughts start to erode many of the healthy behaviors and coping strategies you worked on in recovery. In fact, that’s why being able to recognize the signs of emotional relapse is such a key skill. If you can spot these red flags before they pick up momentum, you can lower your risk of relapse.
The Warning Signs of Emotional Relapse
To spot a red flag in your behavior or thought process, you have to know what to look for. The majority of warning signs for emotional relapse can be broken down into two categories: They are emotional conditions and dysfunctional behaviors. Let’s take a look at examples of each:
Warning Signs of Emotional Relapse
- Depression: Feeling a loss of motivation and an overwhelming sense of hopelessness.
- Anxiety: Intense worry, fear and uncertainty about your sobriety.
- Mood Swings: You have a hard time controlling your feelings and often go from one extreme to the other.
- Anger: You’re more likely to lose your temper, even over little things that you used to be able to brush off.
Behavioral Warning Signs of Emotional Relapse
- Isolation: You’re avoiding spending time with family or friends and prefer to be alone.
- Breaking Routine: You had a set routine for your sobriety, but you haven’t been following your routine or only do it when it’s convenient.
- Trouble Sleeping: You have trouble falling asleep and might even suffer from insomnia, nightmares or waking up frequently.
- Refusing help: You don’t want to get help for anything. You’re determined to do everything yourself even if it means failing as a result.
How to Deal with Emotional Triggers
Emotional triggers are one of the most dangerous parts of the first stage of relapse. But what can you do to help limit the impact these feelings have on you?
During your recovery, you probably were told to avoid your triggers. That could mean staying clear of certain people, situations or places that are linked to your addiction. Remember that having these negative emotions is okay. It’s not a failure to feel these emotions. The real challenge of recovery is finding healthy ways to resolve them.
Think back to what you learned in recovery. Don’t ignore the negative emotions that arise; acknowledge them and find a positive way to move forward.
Three Ways to Prevent Emotional Relapse
While sinking back into the negative emotions that once contributed to your addiction can be hard to manage, there are ways to avoid emotional relapse:
One of the first things to take a hit from emotional relapse is self-care. It’s important to stay on top of your physical, mental and emotional wellness. Activities like exercise and getting enough sleep can go a long way.
2. Use Your Support System
You worked hard to put a support system is place, so be sure to use it. Sobriety is not something you have to go through alone. Don’t be afraid to ask for help.
3. Actively Acknowledge Your Feelings
Try not to suppress your thoughts or feelings. Work towards practicing higher self-awareness through activities like journaling or meditation.
Silver Maple Recovery Can Help Support Your Journey to Lasting Sobriety
Silver Maple Recovery is an expert addiction rehab facility in Lorain, Ohio. Our team has an average of 24 years of local experience and can help you no matter where you are in your recovery journey. With an evidence-based approach, we’re dedicated to helping clients and their families reach their recovery goals.
If you are struggling with your sobriety or have experienced a relapse, we can help. We have professional caregivers ready to talk to you 24 hours a day. Lasting recovery is within your reach, so contact us today.