Physical relapse is often precipitated by a number of emotional, mental, and spiritual changes. In some cases, you may not even realize you’re gradually slipping further and further from your recovery goals and heading straight for a relapse.
What Is a Drug Relapse?
A drug relapse is returning to a lifestyle of actively abusing drugs and/or alcohol. Research shows that relapse rates for substance abuse are between 40 and 60 percent.4 Someone in recovery may also have a single instance of drug use or alcohol use, which is commonly referred to as a “lapse”. Addiction is a chronic disease, so both lapses and relapses are common, but they do not mean a person has failed and is no longer in recovery. Instead, an addiction relapse should be regarded as an opportunity to re-evaluate the person’s responses to triggers and risk factors and improve their relapse prevention plan.
Top 6 Signs of Relapse
The following six circumstances may be warning signs that you need some additional support in your recovery.
Warning Sign of Relapse #1: You frequently feel lonely, depressed, bored and unsatisfied.
Strong negative emotions such as loneliness, anxiety, depression, and boredom are highly associated with relapse.1 As you learn to live a new life of sobriety, it’s very important to stay busy, connect with like-minded peers, and make time for the things you enjoy. The adjustment may be difficult and it will most likely take time, but a sober living program can help you make the transition in a safe, supportive environment with staff members that can provide assistance as needed.
Warning Sign of Relapse #2: You’re not going to your recovery meetings. (Or you’re going but not sharing.)
Although you may not be thinking about using drugs or alcohol again, isolating yourself from your peers in recovery is a strong predictor of relapse. Avoiding your recovery meetings, or attending them but refusing to share, is a clear sign of emotional relapse, which often leads to physical relapse.2 Being fully committed to your treatment plan and being actively engaged in your recovery group (even when you don’t feel like it) is one of the best ways to safeguard your sobriety.
Warning Sign of Relapse #3: Your eating, exercising and sleeping habits have deteriorated.
A major part of recovery is maintaining self-care practices, such as eating healthy meals, getting adequate sleep every night, and exercising regularly. If you find that these aspects of your life have fallen very low on your priority list, there may be a deeper issue at hand that needs to be addressed.
Warning Sign of Relapse #4: You have cravings for drugs or alcohol and start bargaining with yourself.
It’s normal to experience drug and alcohol cravings in the early and even later stages of sobriety, but if you are bargaining with yourself, scheming about ways you can control your drug or alcohol use, or planning a time and place when you can “safely” use, you may have already relapsed mentally.2 If you find yourself thinking about using drugs or alcohol again, even with the intention of controlling the use, it’s very important that you confide in your sponsor, a sober peer, or your counselor so someone can help you work through those feelings. Chances are, they’ve had the same type of thoughts at some point in their recovery too. Although cravings are a normal experience in recovery, they can also be a strong predictor of relapse.3 Instead of ignoring them, confront them quickly and be honest with your peers and sponsor about it.
Warning Sign of Relapse #5: You are lying to your counselor or therapist.
If you are not being honest with your counselor, peers, or therapist about your emotional and psychological status, this is cause for concern. There’s no reason to feel ashamed of your thoughts or feelings. You are not a failure just because you’ve wanted to use drugs or alcohol, you’re burnt out on your recovery, or you feel depressed and anxious. The more honest you are with your treatment team and your peers, the better they will be able to support you in your sobriety.
Warning Sign of Relapse #6: You convince yourself that it’s okay to just have one drink.
Although you may convince yourself that you can control your use and just have one drink or one dose of drugs, that is a very dangerous state to be in. A single drink can easily turn into two, three or six, and all of a sudden, you may realize you no longer have control. On the other hand, just because you’ve had one lapse, doesn’t mean you have completely ruined your sobriety. That single lapse doesn’t have to spiral out of control and become a full-blown relapse. You can still come clean with your support group and get the additional support you need to continue on with your recovery journey before things get worse.
Addiction Relapse Warning Signs for Loved Ones
It’s not always easy to tell when a loved one is struggling in their recovery because you may not know about things they’re hiding or how they’re faring emotionally. If you think a close friend or family member is on the verge of a relapse, here are some common warning signs of relapse to look for.
- He/she is isolating physically and emotionally.
- He/she avoids talking about problems in life and/or recovery.
- He/she works too much or too little.
- He/she overeats or eats too little.
- He/she doesn’t exercise at all or obsesses over exercising.
- He/she blames friends or family members for past problems.
- He/she makes unrealistic plans.
- He/she doesn’t have any hobbies.
- He/she is often irritable or angry.
- He/she has a chaotic daily schedule (or lack thereof).
- He/she lives with friends or family members who abuse drugs and/or alcohol.
- He/she sleeps excessively or rarely at all.
- He/she rejects help from others or expects other people to provide for basic needs.
- He/she skips recovery meetings and gets angry or irritated when you bring it up.
- He/she hasn’t made any friends in recovery.
- He/she hasn’t made any attempts to rebuild his/her life after rehab.
Sober Living Programs for Relapse Prevention
Transitional housing programs can help you achieve a healthy, balanced lifestyle while you’re learning to live a life of sobriety. Whether you’ve recently relapsed or you’ve just completed a drug and alcohol rehab program, Eudaimonia sober living homes can provide the support you need to maintain your sobriety.
Call Eudaimonia Recovery Homes today to learn more about our sober living houses for men, women, and LGBTQ individuals or to begin the enrollment process.