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Relapse Prevention
with John Leadem, LCSW & Shawn Leadem, LCSW

Addiction Recovery is Physical, Emotional, & Spiritual

1 legged stoolIt has been said that there are three legs on every recovery stool: Physical sobriety, Emotional sobriety, and Spiritual sobriety. Think of the acronym P.E.S.

Failure to address any of these three legs will result in quite the shaky stool and greatly increase the likelihood of relapse.

Prior to formulating a relapse plan that will carry any significant weight, it is crucial to take a good look at each one of these legs on the stool to ensure optimum stabilization. We do not want that stool collapsing every time we sit down!

Here is a preliminary list of areas to address. We will work through this list more thoroughly in our future blogs:

Physical Health:

  • Learn how to get a good night sleep. Make this a priority.
  • Develop healthy eating and exercise habits.
  • Obtain a physical evaluation from your doctor.
  • Address any health complications that your addiction has caused – or health complications that you have been neglecting because you were active in your addiction.

Emotional Health:

  • Getting sober is often followed by some mood swings depending on the drug of choice you are giving up. Be prepared to address a potential rise in anxiety, irritability, depression, or distractibility.
  • If you are in danger of harming yourself or others go to the emergency room immediately or call 911. If you have no plan to harm yourself or others but are suffering with depressed moods, you should obtain a thorough assessment from a psychiatrist or competent therapist. Take any suicidal ideation seriously. A free 24 hour crisis help line number is 1-800-662-4357.
  • Learn natural calming techniques such as deep breathing or meditation.
  • Getting exposure to sunlight, exercising, and sleeping at night are natural anti depressants.

Spiritual Health:

  • You do not need to belong to a religion or to believe in God to develop meaningful spiritual practices.
  • Read inspirational or recovery literature and keep a daily journal in writing.
  • Do not isolate! Connect with friends, family, or other recovery people. If you struggle to find nourishing and encouraging human interaction, go to a recovery meeting in order to meet others in recovery – even if this is scary for you. Recovery wisdom suggests going to 90 meetings in 90 days.
  • If you belong to a particular religious organization you can benefit from finding what resources are available within your religious community.
  • Learn how to use mindfulness, deep breathing, meditation, or prayer as a part of your recovery.

What are some of your physical, emotional, or spiritual practices? We would love to know what you have found to be beneficial or where you may have struggled in any of these areas. Please do not leave any comments below that disclose current thoughts of suicide or suicidal ideation! This blog is meant for educational purposes only and should not be used as personal therapy. If you are suffering with suicidal thoughts please call 911 or go to the emergency room immediately.

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Addiction Recovery is Physical, Emotional, & Spiritual

John Leadem, MSW, LCSW and Shawn Leadem, MSW, LCSW

Both John and Shawn Leadem are Licensed Clinical Social Workers in private practice in Toms River, New Jersey.

John has recently celebrated his 45th year in recovery and believes that “service to others is the cornerstone of spiritual maturity.” His professional service to addicted individuals and their families has included the development and direction of addiction treatment services in a full array of modalities from half-way houses to large residential treatment facilities over the past 44 years.

Shawn's lifelong exposure to the recovery culture and his personal recovery experience has left him with a deep personal empathy for the social and emotional suffering endured by others and a strong faith in a person’s ability to change. He has received his certification as a Sexual Addiction Therapist and as a Multiple Addictions Therapist by the International Institute for Trauma & Addiction Professionals.

Together, John and Shawn have co-authored and brought their unique treatment model of relapse prevention, An Ounce of Prevention: A Course in Relapse Prevention, to residential treatment centers across the United States, they have trained therapists at numerous national and international conferences, and most recently have trained many EAP programs associated with many State Unions.

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APA Reference
Shawn Leadem, J. (2017). Addiction Recovery is Physical, Emotional, & Spiritual. Psych Central. Retrieved on March 21, 2019, from


Last updated: 22 Jun 2017
Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 22 Jun 2017
Published on All rights reserved.