Relapse is a process, it's not an event that starts weeks or even months before the event of actual relapse (return to use). There are four stages of relapse.
- Emotional relapse: When you relapse emotionally, the unpleasant feelings (anger, resentment, anxiety, terror, guilt) start creeping back in, and instead of using your new skills, you get stuck in them.
- Mental relapse is when you return to old ways of “stinkin’ thinkin’” including all-or-nothing thinking, self-centeredness, minimization, rationalization, justification and our old friend denial.
- Physical relapse is typically characterized by when you start using your substance or behavior of choice again. I would encourage you to also include when you fall back into those old behaviors that make you more vulnerable to emotional and mental relapse such as not getting enough sleep, eating poorly, taking on too much/burning the candle at both ends, etc.
- Social Relapse is when you go back to relying on other people to tell you you are okay. You turn on autopilot and become less mindful of what you need. Your self-esteem starts to falter. You go start hanging out with old people and romanticizing the past.
What are you doing right now to take care of your emotional self? What are you doing to encourage positive thoughts and walking the middle path, even in the face of adversity? How do you remind yourself each day of your positive qualities? Who is your healthy, helpful support system? Finally, how are you taking care of yourself physically and managing your time so you stay healthy, happy and balanced?