Relapse is not a failure. It is an almost inevitable part of the recovery process. In fact, most recovering addicts will experience at least one relapse during their lifetime. This post talks about the rates of relapse, common reasons for relapsing, and tips for preventing a relapse.      

What Does Relapse Mean?

Relapse is the return to a previous unhealthy behavior after a period of abstinence. It often happens in recovery from addiction and for many different reasons. For example, someone who stopped using cocaine for some time would be experiencing a drug relapse if they go back to using cocaine in an unhealthy manner. Drug relapse does not mean that the person is not strong enough to beat their addiction but rather that they might need to make some changes to their treatment plan.     

How Common Is Relapse?

The high rate of relapse within a short period after intense addiction treatment is a reason for concern. Many studies have shown relapse rates of around 50% within the first 12 months after completing an intensive inpatient program. Intensive inpatient programs can last for 4 to 12 weeks and cost tens of thousands of dollars.1   

Relapse as Part of Recovery

A relapsing person may see the desire to return to their old behavior as a failure of willpower. However, relapsing is far more complicated. Scientists today know that addiction has a significant impact on the brain, resulting in certain structural and functional brain alterations that can persist even after sobriety. Due to its effect on the brain, addiction is considered a brain disease.

Recovery does not happen overnight. It is an ongoing process that involves the patient making mistakes along the way. It is through these mistakes that the patient learns how to navigate their recovery path.

For instance, by experiencing relapse a patient may learn that they can no longer spend time with an old friend or in an old environment. They may discover that they are battling with an underlying mental health issue that must be addressed. It is always recommended to have a relapse prevention plan in place to avoid falling back into bad habits.   

Stages of Relapse

Contrary to popular belief, relapse is not a sudden event. Instead, it is a process that happens over a period, ranging from a few weeks to a couple of months.  

Relapse happens in three stages, including:1

  • Emotional: During this stage, the patient is not thinking about using a substance, but their emotions might be putting them at a higher risk for relapsing. For example, they may be going through a period of feeling guilt, shame, anxiety, or fear of abandonment.
  • Mental: During this stage, the patient is thinking about using a substance. They may romanticize and reminisce about their past drug and/or alcohol use and lifestyle.
  • Physical: This stage is the final one of relapse, where the patient resumes the use of a substance.   

Causes of Relapse

There are different reasons why a person may relapse into using drugs again. However, all causes of relapse are related to some kind of a trigger that can be mental, emotional, or environmental.

The most common causes of relapse may include:

  • If the individual is going through stressful events in life that they used to alleviate with drug use
  • A place that reminds the patient of their past substance abuse
  • A person who the patient associates with substance abuse.
  • Negative feelings encountered in daily life.
  • A song that reminds the patient of their past substance abuse
  • An object that reminds the patients of their past drug use
  • Times of celebration (i.e., birthdays and holidays)    

Relapse Warning Signs

Researchers Terence T. Gorski and Merlene Miller established a list of warning signs that can predict a relapse. According to research, these warning signs are reliable and valid predictors of relapses.      

Some of the common relapse warning signs include:2

  • Defensiveness
  • Compulsive and impulsive behavior
  • Spending more time alone
  • Minor depression
  • Loss of constructive planning
  • Daydreaming and wishful thinking
  • Confusion
  • Irritation with friends
  • Episodes of anger, frustration, resentment, and irritability
  • Overeating or undereating
  • Loss of daily structure
  • Periods of deep depression
  • Irregular attendance at fellowship and treatment meetings
  • Dissatisfaction with life
  • Self-pit
  • Loss of behavioral control

What Is a Relapse Prevention Plan?

A relapse prevention plan includes techniques, measures, and tools to help a patient avoid falling back into bad habits. In some cases, a good relapse prevention plan can mean the difference between relapse and long-term sobriety.  

The plan acts as a guideline for how to respond to triggers and cravings when they appear. A plan can help an individual recognize their triggers and learn how to avoid them in the future. In most cases, a relapse prevention plan is a written document that a patient creates with the help of their treatment team that they share with their support group.    

Relapse Prevention Models

Just like there are different types of therapy and addiction treatment methods, there are also different relapse prevention models that each have a specific view on relapse prevention. The most popular relapse prevention models are the Gorski-Cenaps Relapse Prevention Model and Marlatt’s Model of Relapse Prevention.

Gorski-Cenaps Relapse Prevention Model

The Gorski-Cenaps Relapse Prevention Model teaches recovering patients to recognize and manage relapse warning signs.3 It is a program that includes nine principles and associated counseling procedures that help a patient identify relapse warning signs and develop coping skills to avoid them.

The nine principles include:

  • Self-regulation
  • Integration
  • Understanding
  • Self-knowledge
  • Coping skills
  • Change
  • Awareness
  • Support
  • Maintenance      

Marlatt’s Model of Relapse Prevention  

Marlatt’s Model Relapse Prevention model is a behavioral self-control program that teaches individuals who are trying to remain sober to anticipate and cope with the problem of relapse. Specific interventions involve identifying certain high-risk situations for each patient and teaching them how to improve their skills to cope with those situations.4 

Creating a Relapse Prevention Plan

Although a patient can create a relapse prevention plan on their own, asking for help from an experienced substance abuse counselor is recommended.

Here are the most important items a patient must consider when creating a relapse prevention plan:     

Assess History with Drugs and Alcohol

To write an effective relapse prevention plan, the patient must consider their history with drugs and alcohol. If they have relapsed before, they may have a better picture of their triggers and thought patterns. Analyzing what caused a previous relapse can help the patient deal with future triggers more effectively.

Determine Relapse Signs

The relapse prevention plan should also contain the warning signs of relapse. For instance, if the patient has relapsed before, they will be more aware of the warning signs that precede relapse. The patient should list their warning signs in their plan and share them with their treatment team.

Establish the Actions to Take to Avoid Using

The patient should write a list of scenarios that could lead to potential relapse and have a plan for what they will do if it happens. For example, if meeting an old friend is a high-risk trigger, a suitable response to that trigger may be to attend a support meeting or call a family member. The more specific the plan is, the less likely the patient is to relapse. 

Important Components in Relapse Prevention

No one relapse prevention plan fits all patients. However, certain components should be included in each plan.     


The patient must be aware of their triggers. Making a list of triggers can help a patient avoid these high-risk situations in their everyday life and maintain a healthy emotional mindset.


Cravings are the “gateway” to relapse. For this reason, having a list of cravings and a plan on how to deal with these cravings can help someone avoid a relapse. For example, the plan should list how the patient can distract themself from cravings, whom they can call for help, and how to stop their cravings most effectively.  

Damage Control

Another important component in the relapse prevention plan is relapse prevention tools that can help the patient remain sober and on the right track. These tools include anything that can improve the patient’s well-being, from exercising and journaling to attending support meetings and writing a gratitude list.

Recovery Programs

Recovery programs offer many benefits for those struggling with addiction. Having a sponsor is one of the most significant ways to help a patient stay sober and avoid relapsing. Sponsors have been in the patient’s shoes before. They know what it takes to get better and can offer a helping hand when the patient needs it the most. They also provide insight into how addiction has impacted their lives, which can help them understand the patient’s situation better.       

Healthy Coping Mechanisms

Coping mechanisms help you maintain your sobriety. They provide healthy ways for patients to channel the emotions and feelings that can cause cravings or trigger a relapse, so they do not get out of control. Healthy coping skills also help decrease the risk of relapsing because they reduce the patient’s emotional distress.  


Cari Renfro

Administrative Director

Cari has worn a variety of hats before coming to Stages of Recovery – in a past life, she was in advertising sales, association management, corporate event planning and property management. Hailing from West Texas, Cari grew up in Midland before attending Texas Tech University. Always creative and an over-achiever, she graduated magna cum laude with a BA in Advertising before moving to Florida for the next seven years. A true Texan at heart, Cari returned to the Lone Star State and pursued a career in property management where she earned national designations in leasing, apartment management and obtained her real estate license. In 2015, she met Stages of Recovery owner Stephen Medley by chance. Recognizing her style and resourcefulness, he challenged Cari to head up the renovation of the men’s Transitional Housing properties in Lubbock and Waco (check them out – they look pretty great if we say so ourselves!). Given her knack for organization and execution, the Stages family officially welcomed Cari in 2020 to assist behind the scenes in administration, operations and marketing – she’s here to make us look good! In her spare time, Cari’s pastimes include cooking, interior design and doting on her Scottish Folds – Birdie and Apollo. 

Words to Live by: 

“Why cope when you can eliminate?”

Buddy Bowman


J. E. Buddy Bowman whose journey into the treatment field marks an inspiring second career. Buddy’s passion for recovery is deeply rooted in his personal journey, having experienced both therapeutic community and 12-step recovery since 1984. This profound understanding of the recovery process allows him to approach his counseling with empathy, compassion, and an unwavering belief in the transformative power of rehabilitation.

Buddy also comes to us as a “Train the Trainer” in Texas, and has specialized in working with clients involved in the Criminal Justice system. This unique background has earned him a well-deserved reputation as an empathetic and effective counselor.

Buddy finds immense joy in his family, is an avid nature enthusiast and enjoys exploring the breathtaking landscapes of the western United States. One constant companion on his journeys is his beloved dog, Bandit.

Jacob Brown LPC


Jacob graduated with his M.Ed. in Clinical Mental Health Counseling from Texas Tech
University in May of 2021 and has been working towards his Ph.D. in Counselor Education from Texas Tech University. As a counselor, Jacob operates from a Humanistic perspective, utilizing Existential and Person-Centered techniques.

Since beginning his journey in becoming a counselor, Jacob has strived to help people find the meaning in their lives by helping them overcome addiction and embrace a life of recovery. 

Tony Dulaney

Transitional Housing, Men’s

Check back soon to learn more about Tony!

I'm Awesome!

Stay Tuned

Check back soon to meet our team!

Matthew Vasquez, LCDC-I

Therapist Lubbock

Matt obtained his bachelor’s degree in Addiction Counseling in 2017 and his master’s in 2020 in the same area of study. In 2020 Stages of Recovery welcomed him as an intern which quickly turned into a part-time then full-time position, assisting with groups and transitional housing at the men’s properties in Lubbock. Matt began his journey in counseling because he wanted to help people struggling with the disease of addiction, by being a role model and helping them realize the potential they have in recovery.   

Seeing people succeed in recovery and change their lives for the better fuels Matt to continually offer support and leadership to the recovery community here at Stages. 

“I have experienced the joy and peace that comes with sobriety and want to share that and show others that there is a way out of the darkness that is addiction.” 

Favorite quotes: 

“Pain is certain, Suffering is optional.” Gautama Buddha 

“Don’t compare yourself with other people; compare yourself with who you were yesterday.” Jordan Peterson

Dustin Huckabe

business development

Dustin is in long-term recovery and has been sober since May of 2011. He is from San Antonio, TX and is married to his lovely wife, Emma. They moved to Lubbock, TX where Dustin attended The Center for Collegiate Recovery Communities at Texas Tech University. Upon Emma’s graduation from Texas Tech in May of 2018, they relocated to Moore, OK, where Dustin graduated in 2020 with his bachelor’s degree in Social Work and recently achieved his master’s degree in Social Work from The University of Oklahoma. Dustin is also the recipient of the National Collegiate Recovery Student of the year award in 2019 for his tireless work building a recovery space on campus for students. Dustin was also the BSW student of the year in 2019 as well as a two-time recipient of the Anne and Henry Zarrow Social Justice Award for 2020-2021. Dustin has sat on numerous boards of directors in the Oklahoma community. His passion, education and ability to help others gain a life of purpose and meaning are just a few reasons why we are excited to have him on our team! 

Mechie Scherpereel

business development

Mechie went through Stages of Recovery 10 years ago with the dream of one day obtaining a degree and providing for his daughter. He had his daughter at five months sober and started working as a janitor at Texas Tech University in 2011. After discharging from Stages of Recovery, Mechie received a scholarship at Texas Tech and The Center for the Study of Addiction and Recovery. Not only did he receive his Bachelor’s degree from Texas Tech, he pursued his Masters in 2014. Mechie has committed his life to helping others and lives by the motto that he doesn’t care about their feelings, he cares about their lives. His humble roots, passion to help others, and commitment to being his best self is what we at Stages of Recovery embody! We are ready to make shock waves in recovery with this guy!

Tommy Willis

Group Facilitator

Tommy was raised in Tulia, Texas and is married to his first love, Rosalind. They are volunteers for the state of Texas’ program called “Twogether in Texas”, where engaged couples undergo an eight hour workshop. They dedicate their time as a couple to marriage ministry and outreach in the community. Together they have six children and twelve grandchildren. Tommy has been with Stages of Recovery since 2018. He has a Master’s in Addictions Counseling. He is currently in the process of obtaining his LPC Associate and LCDC licenses. Tommy began his recovery in December 2001. He’s driven to give back to the recovery community after seeing so many friends and family who suffered from addiction lose their lives. His journey hasn’t been easy and if he can help the next man, woman, boy or girl choose a different path than he did, it fills his heart with joy.  

Favorite Quote 

“The true test of a man’s character is what he does when no one is watching.” John Wooden

Kayli Dozier, MSN, APRN

Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner (PMHNP-BC)

Check back soon to learn more about Kayli!

Steve Richardson, LMSW, LCDC, CCTS


Steve Richardson is a husband, father, and grandfather. He is also a man in long-term recovery and has a son in recovery as well. Through this journey, few would find it difficult to relate to Steve, making him especially adept at developing relationships with clients and their families. Recovery is so central to his life, that at the age of 52, Steve closed a successful consulting firm and returned to school to become a licensed clinical social worker, as well as a licensed chemical dependency counselor. His education includes a BA in Literature from Texas Tech University, a BS in Psychology at Tarleton State University and a MA in Social Work at the University of Southern California. Along with his extensive education, degrees and training, he brings 50+ years of life experience to every individual, family and group session. Steve believes that no one’s illness should dictate the quality of their future and that their pain and struggle are real. Every addict’s life matters and there is always hope. In other words, no one’s future is carved in stone. His certainly wasn’t. 

Favorite Quote 

“There are only two ways to live your life. One is as though nothing is a miracle. The other is as though everything is a miracle.” Albert Einstein 

Stephanie Franklin, LMFT, LCDC


Stephanie moved from her hometown of San Antonio to Lubbock, TX in 2011 to begin a long journey toward self-growth and healing. She graduated from Texas Tech University with Bachelor degrees in Psychology, and Science in Human Development and Family Studies. After a year of work in the chemical dependency field, Stephanie went on to graduate with a Masters in Couple, Marriage and Family Therapy (with a focus in Addiction in the Family) in 2018. After receiving support from countless loving individuals during her struggle with mental illness, it has been Stephanie’s mission to extend the same level of compassion and care to her clients. She believes counseling is a way for individuals, couples and families to share their experiences and pain, and find ways to transform their darkness into light. Stephanie is especially interested in working with adolescents and adults struggling with addiction and substance abuse, at-risk populations, and couples/families. She works from a systemic perspective with all clients; meaning she gathers information about all areas of an individual’s life to assess needs and the effects that each area may have on the others. Looking through a systemic lens offers the ability for individuals to create lasting transformations through self-awareness about their unmet needs in multiple areas. In her personal life, Stephanie spends most of her time with my husband and their five goofball dogs. She’s a PokemonGo, Disney, and Taylor Swift enthusiast and she enjoys creative outlets including make-up artistry, painting and interior design.

Rommel Hover, BSW, LCDC-I


“Mel” is originally from Angeles City, Philippines. He graduated from Lubbock Christian University with a degree in Social Work. One of the newest clinicians to join Stages in 2020. Mel has over 20 years in Residential inpatient services and is known for his willingness to go above and beyond for others. He is skilled in Mindfulness and serves with a true heart of service. Like many, Mel has had many experiences and challenges in his life that have equipped him to keep pushing forward. These experiences allow him to make deep and meaningful connections with those he helps. When working with clients, he champions the mindset that every human needs three things: TO BE HEARD, TO BE SEEN, AND TO HAVE A SENSE OF PURPOSE. Mel’s motto in life is simply to “Be you” and to not allow anyone or anything to deter you from this. 

Favorite Quote 

“Be like water making its way through cracks. Do not be assertive, but adjust to the object, and you shall find a way around or through it. If nothing within you stays rigid, outward things will disclose themselves. Empty your mind, be formless. shapeless, like water. If you put water into a cup, it becomes the cup. You put water into a bottle and it becomes the bottle. You put it in a teapot, it becomes the teapot. Now, water can flow or it can crash. Be water, my friend.” Bruce Lee 

Averie Holder, LCSW

Clinical Director

Averie is a graduate from Texas Tech University with her Bachelors of Social Work in 2018 then in 2020 with her Masters of Social Work. Averie has been working within the area of addiction and recovery since August of 2018 when she started her Bachelor of Social Work field practicum with Stages of Recovery. Averie decided to work with addiction and recovery because of her passion for seeing people better themselves. Averie believes everyone can change, and she shows a clear love for being part of the process and empowering individuals along the way. Averie has been in recovery herself since October of 2017. She has two adorable dogs, Rockie and Chewie. In Averie’s free moments, you can catch her spending time with her partner, watching reality TV, or playing video games. 

“I love to get in the trenches with the people that I work with, fight with them for their change. I believe anyone, no matter what they have been through, has the ability to overcome.” 

Ashley Loveless, LMSW


Ashley Loveless, Licensed Master Social Worker, earned her Bachelor of Arts and Sciences in Social Work and Spanish from Texas Tech University in 2014. Ashley proceeded to obtain a Master of Social Work from Our Lady of the Lake University in 2017. Ashley has been a licensed and practicing LMSW since 2014 and has worked in many private and non-profit sectors including administrative roles, hospice roles, sexual assault counseling, sex-trafficking rescue/counseling, and mental health. She began her career as a Correctional Mental Health Social Worker at Montford State Psychiatric Prison/Hospital in Lubbock, TX in 2014. She has been employed part-time with Stages of Recovery since February 2019 as a Mental Health Counselor, co-leading early recovery groups and taking on individual clients. Ashley works full-time at Hospice of Lubbock as a medical social worker. Ashley and her husband Paul, have four daughters, Sophie, Harper, Sawyer, and Bowen and a dog named Lincoln. Ashley enjoys traveling, yoga, baking, and adventure.  

Lynn Whitfield, LPC


Lynn has been an LPC for nearly eight years. By volunteering at the Greater Dallas Council on Alcohol and Drug Abuse, she became interested in addiction and recovery. Her practicum in graduate school included working with veterans and women in recovery through art therapy techniques. Lynn is a member of the National Association of Alcoholism and Drug Abuse Counselors and the West Texas Counseling Association. Along with her Marriage and Family Master’s degree, she holds a Master’s degree in art therapy. Lynn’s unique background allows Stage’s clients to introduce and foster creativity throughout their personal recovery. Lynn is a former classroom teacher, grades 1-8.  She is certified in all-level art and counseling. 

Favorite Quote 

“Imagination rules the world.” Napoleon.

Melissa Silva, LCDC-Intern

Clinical Supervisor, Therapist Lubbock

Melissa currently works as a Licensed Chemical Dependency Counselor-Intern and as the Administrative Director at Stages of Recovery. Along with working at Stages of Recovery, she works with adolescents in the Parent Empowerment Project. She has worked in the recovery field since 2015, with a focus on substance use disorder and helping families heal. She pursued work in addiction because of her academic, professional, and community involvement, as well as her personal experiences. Melissa’s work has allowed her to dive deeper into the field of addiction and recovery and to expose her genuine love for the betterment of other’s lives. Currently, she is a doctoral student at Northcentral University and pursues her degree as a Doctor of Philosophy in Marriage and Family Therapy. Melissa received her bachelor’s degree in Community, Family, and Addiction Sciences at Texas Tech University and her master’s degree in Couple, Marriage, and Family Therapy at Texas Tech Tech. She was a member of The Center for Collegiate Recovery Communities at Texas Tech University.  

“It takes one person to believe in you.”

Anthony McClain

Chief Client Relations Officer, Transitional Living Operations 

A Pennsylvania native, Anthony left home when he was 21 during an active addiction – he thought he had it all figured out. Anthony moved from Wyoming to Montana to Colorado. His addiction progressed, causing him to neglect priorities like relationships, rent, and job opportunities. Eventually, Anthony found himself homeless and broken spiritually, emotionally, and physically. Anthony researched a treatment center in the Dallas area that was able to fly him down to Texas. He was a client there for 57 days. While at treatment, Anthony heard of The Door Sober Living and the recovery that Lubbock had to offer. Anthony took a greyhound to Lubbock and in 2012, Anthony stayed at The Door for six months before moving out. Without The Door’s accountability and structure, he fell back into addictive behavior for several months. Anthony checked into the Ranch at Dove Tree, where he stayed for 30 days. Upon successful completion, Anthony returned to The Door Sober Living on May 19, 2013. This time, Anthony signed a one-year agreement and expressed great willingness to maintain sobriety. In July 2014, when a previous house manager moved in with his fiancé, Anthony was asked to step up and take on his duties. This then, Anthony has grown into the Client Relations House Manager. His continued dedication to recovery and belief in the Stages of Recovery program as a whole led to an opportunity in 2017 to become the fourth owner of Stages. 

Addiction Treatment Admissions in Waco, Lubbock, TX and Oklahoma city, OK

Stephen “Medley”

CEO and Business Development Director

Stephen “Medley” is the founding owner of Stages of Recovery, Inc. and The Door Sober Living Community. A visionary with a passion to help those in recovery, he saw a need in the community and decided to take matters into his own hands. Medley has over twenty years of recovery time. After getting clean at the age of nineteen, he knows firsthand how to show many of our younger clients that it is still possible to have fun in recovery. Medley graduated from Texas Tech University as a member of the Collegiate Recovery Community at the Center for the Study of Addiction and Recovery with a bachelor’s degree in Business Administration. Medley is the leader of the company and an inspiration to all staff members. Medley understands the power of knowing why; why we made poor decisions and the importance of knowing and remembering why we don’t want to make them again.  

“I’m passionate about helping individuals realize and reach their dreams by focusing on their WHY.”  

Stephen O’Dell, CFP®

CFO and Business Development

Stephen O’Dell has been with Stages of Recovery for over 12 years. He has served in many roles as the company has continued to grow. He is currently one of the owners and the CFO. He also does direct business development and admissions for those in need of services. Stephen’s time with Stages began when he was a client learning how to live his new life in Recovery. He began his journey at the young age of 18 with big dreams and goals. Stages of Recovery provided him with the tools, guidance, and community needed to build a life worth living. Stephen later achieved his bachelor’s and master’s degree in Personal Financial Planning in 2016 and 2017 from Texas Tech University, with the help of a scholarship from the Center for Collegiate Recovery Communities (CRC). He went on to get his CFP® Mark (Certified Financial Planner) in 2018. Stephen’s unique personal and his extensive professional experience makes him a great fit to help you and your family navigate the complicated process of finding help for your loved one in need.  

Many people think of Wealth as a monetary value. O’Dell defines Wealth as “The relentless pursuit of a desired lifestyle, and the strategic maintenance of that lifestyle”- Stephen O’Dell. With the help of Stages you and your family can begin to define what your goals are and begin the process of healing together.  

Cole Watts

COO and Program Director

Cole and Medley founded The Door Sober Living Community together. Cole is the details behind the program. As Program Director, he conceived and implemented The Door concept and has written multiple grants for this program and others. He is talented at blending the nature of business practices into the field of social services. Cole was born and raised in Lubbock and has been in recovery for over ten years, proving that you can get clean in the same town you live in. He is a proud graduate of the Lubbock County Drug Court program and advocates that Drug Courts work. He holds a Bachelor’s and Master’s Degrees in social work from Texas Tech University. Cole has an inspirational wife, Veronica, and two beautiful children, Eliana and Wyatt. His focus in the company is to make sure that the activities stay true to the spirit of recovery and the mission and vision of the company.  

“I’m passionate about guiding people out of their mental sense of lack and into freedom.”

Stephen “Medley”

CEO and Business Development Director

Stephen “Medley” is the founding owner of Stages of Recovery, Inc. and The Door Sober Living Community. A visionary with a passion to help those in recovery, he saw a need in the community and decided to take matters into his own hands. Medley has over twenty years of recovery time. After getting clean at the age of nineteen, he knows firsthand how to show many of our younger clients that it is still possible to have fun in recovery. Medley graduated from Texas Tech University as a member of the Collegiate Recovery Community at the Center for the Study of Addiction and Recovery with a bachelor’s degree in Business Administration. Medley is the leader of the company and an inspiration to all staff members. Medley understands the power of knowing why; why we made poor decisions and the importance of knowing and remembering why we don’t want to make them again.  

“I’m passionate about helping individuals realize and reach their dreams by focusing on their WHY.”