Three Steps to Relapse

shutterstock_262025006After recovering from a serious drug addiction, the last thing you want to do is consider going through that ordeal again. Once you’re done, you want to be done with that forever, right? Unfortunately, the nature of addiction is complex and frustrating and you will have to fight off temptations and relapse triggers for some time.  


A good way to anticipate these challenges as you set out into your new life of recovery and health, is to recognize the three major steps toward relapse.  They are the emotional phase, the mental phase, and the physical phase.

Emotional Relapse

Addiction is a very intimate and emotional experience. Your own body is almost forcing you to seek out the one thing it can’t get enough of, to the point that your health and wellbeing are put at serious risk.  These impulses first crop up in your emotions. Stress, anxiety, depression… these things lead you to feel urges to pacify them or make the pain go away. An emotional impulse to reach for drugs when you’re feeling low, or feeling like you deserve it, is a subtle thing to recognize but it’s the beginning of a slippery slope.

Mental Relapse

Mental or Psychological Relapse is when you start thinking about using again.  Those feelings or emotional cravings make their way into your thoughts and you start to entertain fantasies of the high or memories of the good old days when drugs were a part of your life.  Your inner monologue kicks in and starts running a broadcast of reasons why it’s alright to try it just once, how you can handle it, that it’s not that big of a deal anymore, you’re cured.  These thoughts of relapsing and using again, if left unchecked and uninterrupted, are sure to culminate in the final phase.

Physical Relapse

After feeling it and then rationalizing it, the only thing left to do is to indulge in the urge to use, gratify the feeling and the logical argument. Actually slipping back into using again is where we tend to think the relapse happens but in reality it has already happened hours or days or weeks ago in the emotions and in the mind.


Focus your discipline during recovery on the first 2 phases of relapse, rather than the final culmination. If you can cut the process off before it gains any momentum, you have a better shot of avoiding the slip.


Addiction is a nasty foe, treat it with respect and stay vigilant every day on your recovery and self betterment.