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Apex Recovery Blog

What Does It Mean to Relapse?

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Are you seeking treatment, but the idea of relapsing has caused you to hesitate in making your final decision? For many people caught in the cycle of addiction, relapse is something that makes you feel ashamed, but that comes from a lack of understanding of what it is. 

Below you’re going to find information about what relapse is and the different stages someone that relapses goes through when it happens. Get ready to take the first step in your recovery and prepare yourself to turn over a new leaf when you seek treatment from Tennessee rehab centers. 

What is a Relapse? 

If you or someone you love has sought treatment for substance abuse or alcoholism, one thing that should be understood is that recovery isn’t a week-long process. You’ll be working on your recovery for the rest of your life because addiction doesn’t go away; you simply learn to have the willpower and tools you need to refrain from using and relapsing. 

As you continue in this recovery journey, relapse can happen. The purpose of treatment is to give you the prevention tools to reduce the chances of relapsing. 

Relapsing means when someone that has stopped using starts using again. 

It can happen on a one-time basis or can take place continuously. Addiction is noted as a chronic condition or an imbalance within someone’s brain, and part of the recovery process includes relapse. 

As you continue reading, one thing to remember is that relapsing doesn’t mean you’ve failed in your recovery. It means you’re human and you’ve made a mistake, but you can decide to turn things around and get back on track with your treatment plan. 

Slip & Relapse: The Same or Different? 

A slip in addiction recovery is when you use substances or drugs one time. An example of this is when someone goes to a bar and has a drink because others are having one, but they don’t have any more than that. 

The difference between the two depends on the person because for some, using alcohol or any drug, even if you only do it once, is still considered to be a relapse. If you use once and then immediately decide to seek help from a mentor or attend a meeting, this would be defined as a slip instead of relapse. 

If you’ve completely abandoned your treatment plan and consciously decided to continue using after the initial time, that’s defined as a relapse. For some people, one slip can lead to a full-blown relapse, but it doesn’t have to derail your recovery if you remain steadfast in seeking the help you need. 

Does Relapse Have Stages? 

Relapse in drug addiction has stages, which might be hard to believe. People assume those with addiction problems make the decisions to use, and that’s it. 

However, many people who relapse feel a host of emotions and go through changes physically that are direct consequences of using. Below we’ve provided more detail about the various stages of relapse for people. 

Keep in mind the way you feel emotionally and physically may not be the same as other people that have relapsed. 


There is an internal struggle people go through when dealing with destructive thoughts that can lead someone to relapse. It’s like a mental tug of war that you feel daily when deciding if using again is worth sacrificing the hard work you’ve done thus far.  

These mental struggles can become stressful and overwhelming, leading someone to believe that relapsing and giving in to these cravings is better than continuing the mental back and forth. Signs of mental relapse include: 

  • Bargaining with yourself about using 
  • Experiencing intense cravings for drugs and alcohol 
  • Looking for opportunities to relapse 

If you find yourself struggling with these types of thoughts, it’s important you seek help from one of the many Tennessee rehab centers. 


Your emotions can determine if you’re headed down a path where relapse is inevitable. You might begin to experience an influx in negative emotions, anger, or anxiety that leads you to believe continuing your recovery isn’t worth it. 

Or these feelings might become so overwhelming that you’re in search of an outlet to relieve these feelings and run from the pain you’re feeling. When you’re going through emotional turmoil, it doesn’t mean you’re planning to relapse. 

Emotional relapse is categorized as a sign is when you stop practicing your various steps in recovery. It can also show when you make changes to your eating and sleeping habits. People that are experiencing emotional relapses often remain in denial that they will relapse until it’s too late. 


The last stage in relapse is when you physically relapse by using a substance or alcohol. At this stage, you’ve given in to the emotions and thoughts you’ve been having and decided you’re going to use them again. 

There are several signs that a relapse is about to occur, and it’s up to you and those that are a part of your support system to identify these signs and act. 

Finding Treatment in Tennessee After a Relapse

Rehab centers in Tennessee can help you get back on track after you’ve relapsed. There are several stages of rehab, but the key to preventing it is receiving treatment, where you’ll learn the different techniques and skills to cope with triggers that lead to relapse. 

Contact Apex Recovery and let us help you or your loved one take back the control you thought you’d lost. No one is hopeless. We all need help sometimes. 

Call Our Toll-Free Hotline 24/7 at 877.881.2689