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17th May 2024

by maxweb

Min read

8 Common Warning Signs of Relapse

Addiction is a destructive force that can ruin a person’s life. Overcoming it and getting clean is a huge achievement that should be celebrated.

Unfortunately, getting sober is just one step on the recovery journey. Recovery is a lifelong process, and the threat of relapse may always be there. Being aware of the dangers of relapse and knowing potential warning signs is vital to achieving your long-term recovery goals.

Not noticing these signs of relapse can cause you to slide back into old habits and ruin all the progress you have made.

Understanding Relapse

A relapse is not a slip-up. Some people may lapse into drinking or taking drugs one time and return to sobriety or immediately return to drug and alcohol rehab. Relapsing is when a person no longer maintains their recovery goals and returns to their old habits and level of use of substances.

Relapsing takes place in 3 stages: emotional, mental and physical.

Emotional Relapse: At this stage, there may be no conscious thoughts of relapsing, but your emotions are similar to the ones you felt when you were suffering from addiction. You may isolate yourself, become more irritable and be in denial.

Mental Relapse: This is when you start thinking about using or drinking again. You may begin to look back at your addiction through rose-tinted glasses and rationalise it.

Physical Relapse: This is the act of picking up that drink or using that drug. The relapse is complete.

When a relapse occurs, it could just be a blip or seriously derail your recovery. You may feel like a failure or that rehab was a waste of time. This can cause the relapse to last longer, which is why it is important to recognise the signs of relapse.


The 8 Common Signs of Relapse

Addiction and relapse are personal to every person that goes through it. What might be a danger for you may be easy for someone else to deal with. That being said, there are common signs of relapse to be aware of.

Increased Stress

Many people who get stressed turn to alcohol and drugs as a form of escapism. This starts a vicious cycle that can lead to addiction. If you find yourself becoming stressed by small things, being more argumentative, or just feeling generally more stressed, then this can be dangerous.

With more stress in your life, you may turn to old, familiar coping methods.

Changes in Attitude or Behaviour

The positivity you may carry from finishing rehab will not last forever. There will be tougher days.

If you start to become angrier, depressed for longer times and suffer from mood swings, then it could mean you are heading towards a relapse. These attitude changes could lead you to lose interest again in things you once enjoyed.

Revisiting Usual Spots Associated with Their Addiction

Being in recovery means making drastic changes. Old haunts can become no-go zones, and certain people should be left behind.

If you begin to feel drawn back to old places and people, seeing your addiction in a better light, then this is one of the many relapse warning signs.

Social Isolation from Loved Ones

Social isolation is poor for your mental health. More time alone means more time with thoughts that can’t be good for you.

Pulling away from others can lead you to a relapse. Without the support of others, you may not feel strong enough to stay sober or lose motivation. Maintaining human connection is a key part of life and sobriety.

Declining Interest in Treatment or Recovery Meetings

Recovery is a process that must be maintained. It evolves daily, and there are always new things to learn to improve one’s life.

When you start to become disinterested in treatment or stop going to recovery meetings, this shows a lack of commitment. If you are no longer committed, that shows that your mindset is changing, and perhaps you have already turned towards using drugs or drinking again.

Defensive Attitude Regarding Substance Use

Changing your attitude towards your substance use is one of the signs of relapse. If you start to rationalise that time more and even begin to defend it to others, this shows you may be edging towards a relapse.

Once you start ignoring the negative impacts substances have had on your life and other people’s, you allow the idea of using again to seep in.

Belief in Being Cured

Addiction is not cured. After you’ve attended alcohol and drug rehab, you may declare that you’ll never use or drink again. This self-belief can be a good thing, but if it makes you complacent, you put yourself in risky situations – socialising with former friends, going to parties – which could cause a relapse.

Sudden Changes in Routine

Addiction can cause a life to become disordered. Once clean, it’s helpful to maintain a routine and provide structure to your life. If you lose this structure and routine – begin sleeping late, no longer maintain hygiene, and make irrational choices – you are increasing the risk of relapse.


Preventative Measures and How to Act

If you have recognised some relapse warning signs, there are steps you can take to prevent anything worse from happening.

Making Use of a Support Network

Isolation is a massive trigger for relapse. You must stay connected to friends and family in both the hard and easier times. Getting help from others by attending group support meetings is important as well as you can become a part of a community that understands what you are going through.


You may have gone a long time not liking yourself and not feeling worthy. Being kind to yourself is important to succeeding. You can also gain a better outlook by exercising regularly, eating well and improving your quality of sleep. If you feel physically healthier, that will boost your mental and emotional well-being.

Being Aware of Triggers

Recognising relapse means knowing your triggers. Staying aware of changes in your way of thinking and behaviour can help you better spot what might trip you up in the future.

Stay Busy

Addiction can take over your life. Suddenly, it is out of your life, and you have free time on your hands. Boredom is a friend of relapse, so staying busy by trying new hobbies, interacting with people and planning out activities will stop you from dwelling too much on your addiction.


Worried About a Potential Relapse? Reach Out to Us Today

Relapse can happen to anyone, no matter how prepared you are. To lessen that risk, it is important to be aware of the warning signs of relapse, know what to do if you feel one coming, and learn the steps to take if it happens.

If you are worried about relapsing or one has happened, Rehab Directory can connect you to a rehab centre that can help you.

Contact us for more information now at 03300414845.

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