If you notice signs of relapse from someone you know, then it’s important to get them help right away. But it’s also crucial to be sure these signs are accurate before taking action.
In this article, we’ll dive into the key signs of relapse to keep in mind and carefully watch out for the next time you interact with that specific friend or loved one.
Depending on the amount and length of addiction treatment someone receives, their chances of relapse can vary. Someone who works their way through detox, ninety days of inpatient rehabilitation, sober living, and then outpatient services has a much higher chance of maintaining sobriety.
Yet, there are no guarantees, and all addicts are susceptible to relapse.
If a relapse happens, it is essential to help an addict return to treatment as soon as possible, rather than wait for them to spiral downward and hit another rock bottom.
To help someone overcome a relapse, you must know what to look for. There are many early signs, specific behaviors that can tell you an addict has relapsed. Below are nine.
1. What An Addict Says
The words and statements made by an addict can alert you to whether or not they have relapsed or are about to relapse.
If someone starts talking about what a hard time they are having staying sober, relapse is on their mind. If they doubt their ability to stay sober, they probably won’t be able to do it.
Thoughts lead to actions.
If an addict asks to borrow money or is just taking money without your permission, a relapse has likely happened. Or, if someone you know is unexpectedly asking you for money, and the number of times they ask for money increases each week, they may already be using again.
If you do not provide them with money, they may resort to stealing from you. It’s also a good idea to remember that money is a trigger for many addicts. For years, every time they have had money, they took it straight to their drug dealer.
In sobriety, some addicts benefit from having a financial advisor early in their recovery or helping them manage their money.
3. Change in Attitude
If you ask someone if they have relapsed and blow up, curse you, and run away from the scene, they will most likely use drugs again. If they are easily agitated and defensive, they may be using.
Attitudes change during a relapse for many reasons. The addict feels guilty and shameful because they weren’t able to stay sober. At the same time, they get angry if you confront them and try to help them get sober again. The attitude they exhibit can fluctuate, but it is usually negative when they have relapsed.
4. Missing Appointments
When someone first comes out of addiction treatment, they are involved in their recovery. They attend AA or NA meetings, support groups, therapy sessions, and other meetings that will aid them in staying sober. If someone you know has missed the last two meetings and quit going to their required outpatient counselor, they may have relapsed.
During a relapse, the focus remains on getting high again, not meeting responsibilities.
5. Change in Appearance
When someone is using drugs, that’s their primary focus. This often means they care less about their appearance. If you notice someone who spends less time on personal hygiene, it could mean they have relapsed and are focused only on getting high.
The clothes they wear may appear more disheveled, they may smell worse due to bathing less, and poor hygiene habits may even show up in the way they care for their children.
While in treatment and sober living, addicts learn how to prevent relapses. One of the key factors to remaining sober is to avoid friends who are still using or are negative influences. They don’t tell them to avoid those friends because they are bad people, but only because it is too hard to hang around someone who is still getting high and not want to get high also.
If someone you know has fallen back into relationships with people who are still using drugs, they will likely relapse if they haven’t already.
While you don’t want an addict to hang out with friends in the throes of their addiction, you do want them to be social with people who can help them stay sober. If your loved one has returned from treatment and for a while, has been developing positive relationships with sober friends and family, that is excellent news.
If, after a while, you notice them withdrawing from sober friends and family, and isolating themselves, this is not great news. It could mean they are about to relapse or have done so already. Addiction and isolation from healthy people is a sign that someone is using drugs again.
Many people report what they call a “rehab high” when they are in treatment. They are feeling so good physically and mentally without the use of drugs or alcohol. When they return home from a lengthy stay in treatment and sober living, they may bring these good feelings. It shows they have confidence in themselves to overcome addiction. They continue therapies, meetings, and everything else necessary to prevent relapse.
There is another type of confidence to watch out for, however. It’s called the “I Got This” confidence. If an addict is not attending meetings or counseling, hanging out with other addicts, and misbehaving, yet they tell you “I got this” or “I’m fine,” they are not okay and do not have a grip on sobriety. They are over-confident, a sure sign of relapse.
9. Refusal to Get Help
If someone shows signs of a relapse but is refusing to get help, they have not only relapsed; they are back into a full-blown addiction cycle. This is why getting someone help at the first sign of relapse is so essential.
Early in relapse, they may need to go back into sober living for a while. Or, they may be able to go to intensive outpatient services. Once they are heavy into their addiction, they must start over with a medical detox and move through sober living and then to outpatient.