Emotional Relapse
addiction, Relapse Prevention

Emotional Relapse

Emotional Relapse

Sobriety and recovery is about paying attention to your health in all aspects, especially emotional relapse.

Of course you want to focus on nutrition and exercise, because that will help your body maintain satiation and not crave outside of that…but you also have to pay close attention to your mental and emotional health as well. This is where loop holes are found in recovery. Taking care of yourself on all levels has proven sustainability in abstinence and recovery efforts.

Many people lose sight of having awareness of their emotions and thought patterns. It’s easy to notice when you are thinking about using drugs, but it is not so easy to recognize thoughts that leads to thinking about using drugs. 

What I mean by that is, there is always a thought or emotion that precedes physical relapse. It is called emotional relapse. That is the first stage in the 3 stages of relapse, the second is mental relapse and third is the physical relapse. 

I like to make sure my clients are aware of these stages, because it can be what saves them from relapsing. The most important to be aware of is the emotional relapse stage, because it is where you will be able to control what happens next or lose control of what happens next.

“Coping skills!”

Emotions are key to how we respond to our environment. Knowing what and who makes you tick is a valuable resource to managing triggers. If you know this about yourself you become vulnerable to mental and physical relapse. Other people in your environment already know this about you and some uses it to their advantage to manipulate your thinking and your feelings. Guilt, shame, anger, self-esteem, and confidence are the most common manipulative feelings that arise in recovery, early or latter. There are also miner feelings that come about that are less noticeable, such as irritability, anxiousness, stress, and agitation to name a few. 

Knowing and understanding what brings about these feelings and emotions will help you become aware of when they are happening and have a strategy of how to manage them, “coping skills” if you will. Your ability to use the necessary coping skills will be what stops you from moving on to mental relapse. 

Some coping skills strategies that could help:

Teach your wife/husband what to look for with emotional relapse: Often times the person around you the most will notice this before you do.

Make a list of who pushes your buttons and why: This can help you remove yourself from being around this person or help you be on guard for when something unpleasant is said or done. Have a plan to address this person or counter the action with your own positive thoughts/affirmations.

Take breaks: Sometimes you have to take a time out from people. I like to call them “mini-vacations,” where you can just take a 5-10 minutes to calm your nerves with positive self-talk or talking to someone that can change your mood.

Remind yourself that not everyone is nice, but that’s their problem, not yours: Sometimes people are miserable and have to take their issues out on others, but don’t let them make that your issue by allowing them to bring you down.

Recovery is manageable if you have the tools. Surround yourself with positivity and don’t allow negativity of others or your past poison your current recovery mind-set. Emotions are a part of our everyday life, there is no getting around it. The problem is when these emotions get away from our reality and stuck in what you believe about yourself and situations that you encounter.

You have to combat that with the positive changes you have made, no matter how big or how small. Not everything will be a cake-walk, especially in early recovery, because there’s a lot of life fixing to do moving forward; however, the changes you’ve made and every resistance you show is something to be celebrated.

Know your emotions, control your recovery.



Ashley M Dais


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