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3 Common Warning Signs of Relapse

Nearly 39 million Americans struggle with substance use disorder.

Often when someone living with addiction shows warning signs of a relapse or experiences relapse, many believe it is caused by a rash decision to start using drugs or alcohol again when that’s not the case.

In fact, relapse is common for those with addiction, and between 40 to 60% experience some level of relapse during their recovery journey. While addiction is a treatable disease, like other chronic health conditions, there is no known cure, so the risk for relapse is ever-present.

The good news is that avoiding relapse is possible with the right support system, which often includes long-term support and treatment with addiction and recovery professionals.

Now more than ever, newer research and treatment methods for relapse prevention are readily available for those struggling with addiction.

Let’s dive deeper into understanding relapse, including the three stages of relapse, common warning signs, and whether relapse is avoidable.

What Is Relapse?

In simplest terms, relapse is the recurrence of a previous condition.

In the case of a substance use disorder, relapse indicates the presence of addiction-related symptoms and does not always indicate the active use of drugs or alcohol.

It is important to note that relapse never indicates a treatment failure or character flaw.

Three Main Warning Signs and Stages of Relapse

There are three main stages, or warning signs, of relapse. Stages progress in order, over time, if no immediate treatment action is taken to slow and end the progression of relapse symptoms.

The three stages of relapse are as follows:

  1. Emotional Relapse – Although no physical symptoms are present, and the person is not actively thinking about their condition or symptoms, emotional relapse is the first indicator that full relapse may occur.

Signs include:

  • Mood swings
  • Inadequate sleep schedules
  • Poor self-care
  • Isolation
  • Unhealthy eating patterns
  1. Mental Relapse – If a person experiencing emotional relapse doesn’t recognize their symptoms, it often leads to mental-related relapse, a stage where they are actively thinking about the substance they used to use and trying to suppress cravings to begin using again.

During this stage, a person is at the highest risk for physical relapse.

Signs include:

  • Minimizing the consequences of drug or alcohol use
  • Planning physical relapse
  • Fantasies about using
  • Constant cravings that affect their mental state
  1. Physical Relapse – the strongest and most prevalent stage of relapse, physical relapse involves actively using drugs or alcohol. Signs and symptoms mimic what you’d typically see in someone in active drug or alcohol use.

Other Warning Signs of Relapse

As indicated, each stage of relapse has specific warning signs to watch out for.

Other warning signs include:

  • Sudden changes in behavior
  • Isolation and avoidance of people and things they typically enjoy
  • A false glamorization of drug or alcohol use
  • Increased stress and moodiness
  • A new sense of control over drug or alcohol use
  • A rash choice to leave treatment, meetings, or counseling services

Effective Relapse Prevention in Alpine, Utah

It is important to remember that treating addiction to drugs and alcohol is a complex and personal process that requires assistance and long-term care to lessen the chances of relapse.

If you or a loved one is struggling with addiction, our experienced and compassionate team at Alpine Recovery Lodge is here to provide comprehensive care to prevent relapse in the first place.

Your sobriety is our top priority. Contact us today to get the help you need now and avoid relapse.