It is well understood that relapses often characterize recovery from drug addiction and alcoholism. In reality, a relapse doesn’t begin when you drink or drug. Relapse is a process that can sneak up on you because it starts long before you take that first drink or use a drug. Since addiction is a complex disease of the mind and emotions, there is a lot to monitor within yourself and work on at all times. The symptoms of relapse in broad terms are changes in attitude, persistent negative feelings, and engaging non-helpful behaviors that gradually lead to the relapse.
What Are the Symptoms Before Relapse?
An individual typically experiences a set of warning symptoms before a relapse. The following symptoms have been extensively studied and are reliable, and can be considered valid predictors of relapse. If you can spot these indicators in yourself or a loved one, it is best to offer professional help right away. In addition, you or your loved one may need to head quickly to an outpatient program to prevent a full-blown relapse from happening. The key to relapse prevention is to understand that relapse happens gradually. It begins weeks and sometimes months before an individual picks up a drink or drug. (NIH)
#1 Change of Attitude
When a person in recovery begins to think that their participation in their recovery program is less important than other things or for any reason, it indicates that their outlook on their recovery is becoming passive. They are beginning to feel dissatisfied with helping themselves. This can appear as if something is bothering them or seems off, but the person usually cannot pinpoint what is wrong. Another change of attitude is accepting things related to drugs or drinking before they knew it was safer to reject those things.
#2 Increased Stress
If someone in recovery gets stressed due to a significant change in circumstances or gets very anxious about minor life challenges, they are not coping with their stress well. After stress piles up, a person can feel physically, emotionally, and spiritually defeated and desperate. An over-reaction to smaller stress can be dangerous. Beware when your moods swing either in a bad way or if you are overly excited and optimistic. Stress is part of life but not coping with it well is a symptom of relapse.
#3 Resuming Denial of Your Addiction
When a person is no longer denying that they have a drug or alcohol problem or minimizing it, this is a huge red flag. The addict’s mind will try to convince them that everything is fine, but it isn’t. The person is probably aware that their outlook is scary. Still, they are afraid to share their feelings about drugs and alcohol with anyone and ignore them. At this point, they may already be on the way to using or drinking. We urge friends and family or the person to talk to a counselor or close friend in recovery right away.
#4 Behavior Changes
During the first few months and years of sobriety, most people change their daily routine very noticeable way. These newly recovering individuals are helping themselves by replacing their compulsive behaviors with healthy ones. When someone does not keep up most of their clean and sober behaviors and routines, they must assess their behavior honestly. Most often, they will initially be defensive. We suggest that they be allowed time to come to their conclusion. Recovery is a precious entity that can be swayed negatively, especially when someone is confronted.
#5 Social Isolation
People who are not doing well in their sobriety may begin to isolate themselves. This happens because they are growing less and less comfortable with their mind and emotions. They will avoid social situations, and they may make excuses why they are not engaging with others. The number of meetings they are attending will also likely go down. Recovery cannot be maintained alone. People in recovery must be around others and help others. Doing it alone is a sure route to relapse.
#6 Loss of Judgment
Someone who feels uneasy about their recovery will also make unhealthy decisions or have trouble making decisions. It may be difficult for them to think clearly, and they may get confused often. This indicates that this person’s mind is elsewhere or fixated on how they are feeling at all times- which is dangerous for recovering addicts. Before entering recovery, they used and drank to fix their feelings. Another symptom of relapse is if the person is excluding people who can help them—for example, not calling their sponsor or their friends in recovery, staying away from the family, etc. In general, with loss of judgment, the person’s optimism is beginning to fade.
#7 Final Stage: Relapse
When someone returns to drinking and drugging, they may have several successful binges. And despite controlled or short-term alcohol or drug use, this person will still experience shame and guilt. This is the tipping point to full-blown relapse. The feelings after drinking or drugging will prompt them to use and drink again to forget. After that, they will soon lose control, and their drug and alcohol use will spiral out of control at the maximum rate.
Start Sober Journey From Drug Dependence at Evoke Wellness
Evoke Wellness rehab centers assist men, women, and families throughout the United States struggling with substance abuse and searching for addiction treatment. Our premier treatment centers offer a comprehensive approach to treating substance abuse with multiple levels of care. Recovery is within your grasp. Reach out to us and talk with an addiction specialist. They are here 24/7 to help you. A sober life begins now!