The clinical definition of relapse is when a person is affected again by a condition that affected them in the past. By definition, for relapse to happen, the disease must have been in remission or cured. In the case of addiction, the disease is incurable (chronic), however the disease can be put into remission.
Relapse is often thought of as an event, such as taking a drink or using a drug: however relapse is actually an extended process that begins long before the use of a chemical substance. There are significant and identifiable phases of relapse.
Terrence Gorski and Merlene Miller collaborated on the development of eleven phases of relapse.
Phase 1: Internal Change Looking good on the outside, but beginning to use unhealthy and addictive thinking to manage feelings of negative self-image. Intervene if some of the following warning signs are present: •Increased stress – can be due to a major circumstance or little things building up. •Change in thinking – working a recovery program is not as important any more. •Change in feelings – mood swings and exaggerated positive or negative feelings. •Change in behavior – not working a program like before, knowing something is wrong.
Phase 2: Denial I begin to overlook what I am thinking and feeling, and I stop honestly telling others what I am thinking and feeling. Intervene if some of the following warning signs are present: • Worrying about myself – feeling afraid of using drugs, and dismissing the fear because the thought is too uncomfortable. • Denying that I am worried – persuading one’s self that everything is OK, when it really is not.
Phase 3: Avoidance and Defensiveness Avoiding anyone or any situation that will force the honest evaluation of one’s thinking, feelings and changes in behaviors: and if confronted, being defensive and not listening. Intervene if some of the