boy who has just relapsed

Warning Signs of an Alcohol or Drug Relapse

Dr. Norris Von Curl, II, MD

Dr. Norris Von Curl, II, MD

When someone relapses after a period of sobriety it can be very difficult for that person to get back on the right track. For some who do relapse but are able to avoid disaster by  getting back into recovery are the lucky ones. The sooner someone realises the dangers after a relapse the better their chances of recovering again. When someone gets back on their feet quickly some may not consider it a full relapse but more of a slip. Sadly in many cases the addict or alcoholic will completely return to active addiction. Relapse is nothing to be taken lightly, many addicts and alcoholics consider relapse a death sentence. That’s why it is so important that the maximum amount of effort is put into avoiding relapse.

People do not usually relapse out of the blue,  most of the time there are various warning signs that there is a risk of relapse. If the addict/alcoholic or their loved ones are able spot these warning signs of relapse then they may be able to prevent a relapse from ever occurring. When referring to addicts and alcoholics in recovery relapse is referred to as the process of that person going back to using drugs or alcohol. Signs of a relapse start long before the addict or alcoholic begins using again. During a relapse one will start to go through a series of emotional and mental issues before they finally find themselves in a place where they think they have no choice but to start using drugs or alcohol again. Once someone has made the decision to start their road to recovery avoiding a relapse must be their number one goal. The process of recovering from the disease of drug addiction or alcoholism is a process that must become a part of daily life. One must adjust their lifestyles once in recovery to help avoid a relapse, this can vary person to person but change is necessary.

It is no easy task to overcome addiction. When someone enters recovery life can become new and exciting again. Family members will begin to find hope again that their loved one has conquered their issues and are now beginning to live a new and positive life. When that person starts to use again it can be very hard for loved ones to understand why that person relapsed. If that addict or alcoholic relapses they may not be able to give a reason for their relapse. Relapse doesn’t need to be part of recovery, but for some addicts and alcoholics it is.

What is the Relapse Process?

The relapse process is a snowball effect of problems that can ultimately lead to the use of drugs and alcohol again. These problems slowly start to have the snowball effect. When you first rolls a snowball down a hill it will be small and will be moving slowly. At this stage it can easily be stopped. As the snowball grows and begins to move faster and faster ( the problem goes untreated) it becomes more and more severe. As the snowball begins to get bigger it gains speed as it gathers more snow (more problems and issues added in) it becomes harder and harder to stop.Relapse is not a single event, it is a series of problems and events that when left untreated can lead to that person using again and becoming completely out of control.


Warning Signs of a Relapse

  • Talking Highly or Romanticising Past Use

One begins to talk highly about their past addiction. Talking about the good times they had and the positive things that they experienced. Sometimes one will refer to their past drug or substance of choice like they are talking about a person and not about a thing.

  • Thinking That Short Term Use is Possible

One may start thinking or verbalizing that they can go out and just use on weekends. Whether they are talking about having a few beers or a few lines of coke, this type of thinking can be very dangerous and give one false confidence in their power of drugs and alcohol.

  • Back to Same People, Places and Things

A change of environment is extremely beneficial, when someone separates themselves from those outside influences their chances of success are much higher. When they start to go back to those things their chances of relapse are much higher.

  • Becoming Defensive When Loved Ones Talk to You About It

You are getting into old behaviors and your loved ones notice it. When they mention something to you instead of thanking them for their concern you become defensive.

  • Attitude and Behavior Changes

You start embracing negative feelings like depression, you start isolating or hanging out with other people who are currently using. You can become more angry or upset over something small; you dwell on those negative things.

  • Changing Personal Relationships

You’ve built a new group of friends that support you through your recovery. Now you started arguing more with friends, you’re lying to your loved ones and spending less time with those that are most important to you.

  • No Interest in Old Hobbies and Activities

You found a new way of life and started to find joy in the simple things in life. You found things that truly interests you, that interest has come and gone. Now the only thing you think about is your substance of choice.

End the Cycle of Relapse with First Steps Recovery

It’s important for those in recovery not to give up after a slip or a relapse. Even after making a mistake, the journey of recovery isn’t over. At First Steps Recovery, we never give up on residents. If you feel you are at risk of recurrent relapsing, contact us today so we can help you create a diversion plan that will fortify your recovery and help you to sustain your sobriety long-term.Please call us today if you or a loved one are struggling, 1-844-BIG-STEP (1-844-489-0836).

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