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When we think of relapse, we think of falling back into our addictive patterns and picking up our drug of choice again after working so hard to get sober. We think of the temptation, addictive urges, and compulsive behaviors we associate with it. There are in fact other ways to relapse that don’t necessarily involve our drug of choice. Our recovery is not just abstinence from a drug, it’s also emotional, mental and behavioral recovery. It’s shedding the toxic thought patterns, emotional responses and behavioral patterns that have been keeping us unwell. It’s learning to create and establish new patterns for ourselves. When we haven’t fully healed in these other important ways, we can find ourselves relapsing even if we haven’t gone back to our drug of choice. What is emotional and behavioral relapse? 

We tend to form patterns out of our thoughts, feelings, and behaviors that accompany our addictive patterns. Our mental and emotional health issues, and our problematic behaviors, often coincide with our addictions. They feed off of each other and contribute to one another, causing both to be worsened over time. When we’re only focusing on our sobriety and not on all the many factors of our well-being, it can be easy to relapse emotionally or behaviorally, and to fall back into these other patterns that might not have anything to do with our drug of choice. If we don’t recover from these particular patterns, though, they can easily threaten our sobriety and cause us to relapse with our drug of choice down the line.

For some of us, we might be clinging to the thought patterns of the toxic limiting beliefs we’re still allowing ourselves to practice and perpetuate, and negative thinking we’re still giving our energy and attention to. For others of us, we might have emotional patterns of defensiveness, dishonesty or manipulation. Our behavioral patterns might include trying to control people, lying to get out of something or to clear our name, pushing people away, or lashing out at them. We might project our emotional issues onto other people. We might transfer our pain from one issue or person onto another. We might develop entirely new addictive behaviors and compulsions. In these and other ways, we might relapse and fall back into old harmful patterns that can be just as self-destructive and self-sabotaging as our addictions. We might not have interrupted our sobriety, but we’re still causing ourselves harm, and we may very well be threatening our sobriety because we’re not resolving all of these underlying issues, many of which might be fueling our addictions in the first place.

Riverside Recovery understands all of the emotional challenges of addiction recovery and is here to support you. Call us today for more information: (800) 871-5440.