How to own your recovery.

Recovery is a journey that commonly sees relapse. It’s so common that many regard relapse as a part of the recovery process rather than singular mistake. Though everyone’s journey is unique, three stages of relapse have been identified. This blog takes a look at those stages.

Emotional Relapse

Relapse isn’t always ignited by a craving. The first stage of relapse—an emotional relapse—is triggered by strong feelings of anxiety, depression or anger.¹ Your addiction was an all-consuming part of your routine, and suddenly breaking that will bring on overwhelming emotions. In addition, you may find yourself losing sleep, or experiencing a change in eating habits (either not eating at all, or binge eating). All this can send your emotions into overdrive, causing you to turn to your addiction, which you may believe will provide the routine or sense of security you long for.

Mental Relapse

The second stage of relapse tugs on your memories and patterns of drug use. People in this stage recall using with strong, often comforting memories: who they used with, the euphoric feelings, how they used and the rhythmic steps in this all too familiar process. These memories are incredibly vivid, and can soon turn to thoughts of, “Just one more time, then I’m done for good.” In this stage, justification and bargaining come out in a big way. People rationalize, “I’ve had a stressful week, I need to take the edge off.² This one time won’t change anything.” You’re not alone if these thoughts echo your own. Everyone has these thoughts in the mental relapse stage, but not fixating on them is the key to not giving in.

Physical Relapse

Drug use resumes in the third stage of relapse. In this stage, people actively take steps to procure drugs and use again. Physical relapse begins the second someone calls or texts a dealer. This stage can feel like a freight train barreling down the tracks—there’s no stopping it, but this isn’t true. Even if you use again, know that physical relapse is a moment which you can look back on to recognize the signs. What made you pick up the phone in the first place? Retrace your steps and be aware of what you were feeling and experiencing so that next time, you can stop yourself.

Preparation and Perseverance

Knowing what to expect on your road to recovery will help you own it and prepare you to recognize the stages of relapse. There’s something else to remember too: accidental opioid overdose can happen anywhere, to you, or a friend who’s also in recovery. Be ready for this. Carry Kloxxado,® a nasally-administered form of naloxone, trusted by healthcare providers for reversing the effects of opioid overdose as a bridge to emergency medical care.³



  1. Alcohol Rehab Guide website. Available at: Accessed July 15, 2022.
  2. The Freedom Center Addiction Treatment website. Available at: Accessed July 15, 2022.
  3. Kloxxado® Available at: Accessed July 15, 2022.