Recognizing the Signs of Relapse
Recovery is a process and often includes signs of relapse. In fact, over three-quarters of those who complete treatment relapse within the first year following completion of treatment. Addiction treatment professionals advise making a relapse prevention plan to recognize the signs of early relapse after completing treatment is an essential tool.
For this reason, family and friends must also have an education concerning relapse prevention to support the loved one struggling to stay sober.
Understanding Why Relapse Occurs
Understanding why relapse occurs is critical to a strong relapse prevention plan. For example, emotional stability is possible through understanding how to recognize emotions and feelings that are challenging to cope with. Mindfulness practice helps to identify when new healthy and positive coping mechanisms can replace old negative and hurtful ones. Consequently, sobriety can continue, and recovery stays steady.
However, slips in coping happen, and the brain is a powerful entity to deal with. Negative thoughts are easy to return to in times of extreme stress, challenging situations, and quick unplanned change, and they can be signs of early relapse. Without recognizing the significance of particular thought processes, the foundation for relapse is building. Relapse is, by definition, a return to using a substance or alcohol after a period of sobriety, and a mental relapse begins the cycle.
Suddenly the urges and cravings associated with addiction cause conflicting feelings about sobriety. They glorify their past drug use and forget the negative consequences without understanding how strong these thoughts can be. The pull is strong to use again, and the physical stage of relapse begins when they give in and use the substance again. A strong relapse prevention plan maps out the signs of relapse and steps to take to prevent the initial thoughts from gaining momentum.
Symptoms of Early Relapse
Those experiencing new sources of stress or a lifestyle change or crisis may trigger signs of early relapse. Managing relapse begins with identifying warning signs, reviewing a written relapse prevention plan, and making plans to prevent relapse. However, signs of relapse can be subtle and difficult to recognize early. A checklist of early signs and symptoms can pinpoint when to reach out for help for relapse prevention.
The following subtle signs and symptoms of relapse can be unrecognizable when under extreme stress or crisis. If these signs are spotted, visiting a group therapy program may be advisable.
- Disruptions in regular eating and sleeping patterns, abandonment of lifestyle structure, and lack of personal hygiene
- Racing thoughts and an inability to focus or concentrate
- Negative thoughts overtaking positive coping mechanisms
- Depression and anxiety symptoms
- Increased fear, irritability, sadness, agitation, and caution
- Social withdrawal and increased isolation are often a sign of thoughts of using again and induce feelings of guilt and shame
- Neglect of essential responsibilities
Factors Contributing to Relapses
People often fail to remember that addiction is a progressive disease and has no foolproof cure. Relapse being a part of addiction, is always possible, so each day must bring a new commitment to sobriety. It is vital to recognize factors contributing to the possibility of relapse.
Group meetings or a sober living program may help to end the relapse and re-establish sobriety. Treatment educational skills must continue daily, and communication with a support team is crucial. Recognizing signs of relapse by addressing the factors contributing to relapse head-on to avoid any possibility of relapse is essential.
Addressing the factors contributing to relapse is possible by staying aware and present in each moment and practicing mindfulness. The following factors are primary reasons for signs of early relapse.
- Chronically increased stress levels: Addiction often occurs as a coping mechanism for stress. Learning healthier and more positive coping mechanisms is vital to recovery, but practice allows for strength in the new habits. Early signs of relapse add a higher stress level once negative thoughts occur, and using again enters into thought processes to relieve the pressure.
- Return of denial: Denial of relapse is one of the signs of relapse. Refusal to admit to relapsing or thinking of using again will cause resistance to asking for help.
- Losing faith in the recovery program: When things get hard or boredom may happen, some in recovery view their program negatively. Suddenly every support, program, or process is not feeling helpful, and struggles begin, and at times hostility sets in. Loss of commitment to sobriety is one of the early signs of relapse.
What To Do If Someone Is Relapsing?
Relapse can spiral quickly and addiction can return if there is not an immediate response through outside support. Relapse triggers feelings of loss of control and initiates feelings of guilt and shame. Afraid of rejection, depressed and anxious, those who relapse often try to hide their substance use. In many cases, embarrassment of relapsing increases feelings of loneliness and frustration, increasing the need to use.
It is essential to reach out with understanding and a nonjudgmental voice to encourage a loved one who is relapsing to contact their therapist, treatment center, or group. The signs of relapse are very noticeable, so the faster the response, the better. Be proactive and help your loved one contact their healthcare provider or therapist to recommit to sobriety. Overall, do not engage in any negative relationship habits that enable your loved one to re-establish the addiction.
Receive Help for the Early Signs of Relapse in Tennessee
Finding help for a loved one who has been showing signs of relapse can be a productive and proactive factor in their recovery. Contact Freeman Recovery Center to reestablish a connection with a treatment professional and help your loved one to get back on their recovery program.
Our services can assist with compassionate care and understanding guidance, call us today.