Your Ultimate Guide to Analyzing Your Latest Relapse

woman frowning on couch


A 2015 study published in the Yale Journal of Biology and Medicine expressed 4 main ideas in relapse prevention:

  • Relapse as a gradual process with distinct stages
  • Recovery is a process of personal growth with developmental milestones
  • The main tools of relapse prevention are mind-body relaxation
  • That most relapses can be explained in terms of a few basic rules

Relapse, also known as a “slip”, is the recurrence of a person’s addictive behaviors; relapses often begin with a series of small, noticeable signs that build up over a period of time until the individual eventually uses substances to relieve the feelings of pain or discomfort. If you’ve recently experienced a relapse, recognize that you have not failed in your journey to recovery. As mentioned from the study above, relapse is a step in your journey, a path towards understanding and added strength. Below are some key elements to analyzing your relapse, much of which you should do with a psychologist or leader in your recovery program:

  1. Write out the emotions and experiences you felt leading up to the relapse. For the past week leading up to it, did you feel stressed? Sad? Upset? Angry? Can you pinpoint when those feelings escalated? Did certain thoughts make those feelings more exaggerated? Be very meticulous in this process and approach it with curiosity rather than shame – this is key to learning and moving forward.
  2. Explore what actions you took (or didn’t take) to help you work through the feelings you encountered leading up to your relapse. Did you practice any of the tools you learned in your recovery? Write those down. This may help you identify certain techniques that need to be reinforced or altered if they didn’t work very well for you in preventing your relapse.
  3. Identify what steps you could take next time that perhaps you didn’t take. Is there a certain person you could have reached out to, an activity that you could have engaged in or something else that would have helped you work through those emotions before acting on them?
  4. Record any situations, people, places, or feelings that triggered you that perhaps you didn’t realize at the time. This a new opportunity for growth – you are learning of a new trigger that you didn’t’ know of before.
  5. Forgive yourself and move forward. We are all human and we make mistakes – this was a small learning curve for you. Take note of what you’ve learned, and keep in mind for future reference.

Simple Recovery is a world-renowned, California state-licensed substance abuse recovery center. We offer dual diagnosis treatment, so if you are experiencing both substance abuse and symptoms of a mental disorder, call us today at 888-743-0490 so that we can work with you to restore your happiness, health, and well-being. You do not have to continue living this way; there are many people here ready to help you.