How Can I Tell if My Friend is About to Relapse?

Relapse can be very serious for an individual in recovery from addiction. Addiction never goes away just as the risk of relapse is always present. It is better to acknowledge signs of relapse than deal with consequences following a slip up. Learn how to notice signs if a friend is struggling in recovery.


Practice Honesty

To notice the warning signs of relapse, be honest and forthcoming about what issues may be arising. Everyone experiences stress but it is how a person deals with it that makes a difference. Recognize stress, learn how to cope and deal with it effectively. The following may be signs of potential relapse:

  • Avoiding problems
  • Seems bored
  • Changes sleeping or eating routine
  • Changes appear in health
  • Seems overly self critical
  • Dwells on negative emotions, the past or unresolved problems
  • Isolates from others
  • Not following treatment plan
  • Returns to people, places or things associated with addiction


Addiction of a Loved One

Addiction is a family disease. Everyone has a role to play whether it is enabler, the hero, scapegoat, benefactor or someone who bails the person out. Often people think intervention is the answer to treatment. The family needs to remain actively engaged. Ignoring a possible relapse only enables the process. When family remains engaged, it can be hard to confront a loved one about denial but is necessary to help the person get better. The more education a person can get about addiction the better off a person will be in helping a loved one receive treatment.


Approaching a Loved One

The key to approaching a loved one who may be struggling with recovery is to not blame. The person will shut down and then won’t listen to what anyone has to say. When addressing the concerns with a person who has addiction, try the following:

  • Talk about what is going on, feelings and why concern is present about behavior
  • Explain the loved one’s actions and how it impacts everyone in the family
  • Ask the person with addiction to provide understanding about what he or she is feeling
  • Discuss personal triggers and create a plan to stay away from crisis
  • Set boundaries, define consequences and always follow through


Work to break the cycle even if it means talking to a loved one over dinner and a meeting on Friday night or going to support groups. Be reminded that addiction is not anyone else’s fault. Be reminded that addiction is a family disease and recovery is a process. Relapse is possible but with the right tools, a loved one may avoid serious consequences as a result of relapsing into addiction.


The Villa supports families and individuals who struggle with addiction and recovery. If you need help or resources, call us to find out how we can help you provide the best support for a loved one with addiction.