Al-Anon Information Services for Grand Rapids Area

10 Common Warning Signs of a Drug or Alcohol Relapse SLRC

Isolation or no longer attending 12-step or recovery meetings (e.g., Alcoholics Anonymous or Narcotics Anonymous . A treatment facility paid to have their center promoted here. Relay is a digital support group app that matches you to a team of peers to stay connected and accountable. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, relapse rates while in recovery are 40 to 60%.

  • How individuals deal with setbacks plays a major role in recovery.
  • Denied users will not or cannot fully acknowledge the extent of their addiction.
  • Second, mind-body relaxation helps individuals let go of negative thinking such as dwelling on the past or worrying about the future, which are triggers for relapse.
  • 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 key is that if the thoughts come more often, are regular, or increase in intensity with changes in behaviors. These can differentiate between normal thoughts of drinking or using and a mental relapse. Addiction to alcohol or drugs impacts millions of Americans every day. Knowing the warning signs of a relapse and what to do can be important in preventing potentially deadly relapses. When individuals continue to refer to their using days as “fun,” they continue to downplay the negative consequences of addiction. Expectancy theory has shown that when people expect to have fun, they usually do, and when they expect that something will not be fun, it usually isn’t .


During this first stage of relapse, the individual is most likely not thinking consciously about using alcohol or drugs again. The memory of the pain of their addiction is still strong enough to deter them from this thought. However, the issue is that they are beginning to experience difficult or challenging parts of life and their emotional well-being is not healthy. Resorting to previously relied-upon coping skills they begin to go back to habits that aren’t healthy and don’t support recovery.

What are some behaviors that may lead to relapse?

  • Social pressure. Hanging around with your old party buddies or drinking crew makes it easy for you to fall back into those destructive habits.
  • Isolation.
  • Being around addictive substances.
  • Untreated mental illness.
  • Giving up on treatment.
  • Sleep deprivation.
  • Nostalgia.
  • Boredom.

Almost everyone in recovery has the urge to test their personal control at some point, especially early in the process. Going through detox and one or more treatment programs is a huge accomplishment. The growth stage focuses on helping your loved one develop new skills that address the root causes of their addiction. This may involve facing past trauma, learning mind-body relaxation techniques, and setting healthy boundaries.

Online Therapy

The thought of all that effort and hope being in vain can be devastating. Twelve-step groups include Alcoholics Anonymous , Narcotics Anonymous , Marijuana Anonymous , Cocaine Anonymous , Gamblers Anonymous , and Adult Children of Alcoholics . alcohol relapse Every country, every town, and almost every cruise ship has a 12-step meeting. There are other self-help groups, including Women for Sobriety, Secular Organizations for Sobriety, Smart Recovery, and Caduceus groups for health professionals.

  • A common question we hear a lot is “how to tell if an alcoholic is drinking again” since it’s easy to slip in a drink without anyone noticing which can be the start of a relapse.
  • No matter how diligently you pursue your recovery or how committed you are to lifelong sobriety, there is a chance you will relapse at some point.
  • For example, a slip could be taking a sip of alcohol at a party or for a toast at a wedding, or doing one quick hit of marijuana.
  • Listed on his death certificate was “accidental overdose” from pain medications.

If an individual is not in an intimate relationship when they enter recovery, it is often encouraged to stay out of one for several months or even a year, until they are more stable in their recovery. This is because individuals who are newly sober may try to fill their void with an intimate partner. There are many other reasons it is encouraged not to date in sobriety. For example, dating and intimacy often involves alcohol, and a newly sober individual may not know how to navigate the dating scene without alcohol or drug use. Additionally, relationships (even long-term relationships that existed prior to recovery) can trigger unpleasant and unwanted emotions that a newly sober individual may not know how to cope with. Furhtermore, individuals who are newly sober may never have had sober sex, and therefore sexual experiences in recovery can be very triggering.

Warning Sign: Mental chaos.

In this first stage, the focus is on an individual’s emotions, and how they provoke us to become emotionally unstable and return to bad habits and act out. In the context of alcohol and drugs, a relapse indicates the return to a given substance following a non-negligible period of sobriety. If a lapse or relapse does occur, it is beneficial to get help or support as soon as possible. Be honest with yourself and with those in your recovery circle.

These changes don’t only manifest themselves in the individual but in his or her living space as well. Instead, use this relapse as a learning tool; clarify your relapse prevention plan and identify your triggers. By digging deeper into the root cause of the relapse, you will lay the foundation for a recovery that will ensure you bounce back stronger than ever. After a relapse, many people experience feelings of shame or regret.

The belief is that recovery requires some special strength or willpower that the individual does not possess. Past relapses are taken as proof that the individual does not have what it takes to recover . Cognitive therapy helps clients see that recovery is based on coping skills and not willpower. Helping clients avoid high-risk situations is an important goal of therapy. Clinical experience has shown that individuals have a hard time identifying their high-risk situations and believing that they are high-risk. Sometimes they think that avoiding high-risk situations is a sign of weakness.