Warning Signs of Relapse

Warning Signs of Relapse


Addiction is a disease which never goes away, but it can go into remission. No matter how long a person has been sober, relapse is always a possibility. Relapse does not just happen, it is a gradual process. Learn to recognize the warning signs of relapse and what to do if a loved one may be at risk.



The warning signs of relapse require total awareness of a person, inside and out. Honesty with oneself and how one’s feelings are exhibited begin with stress management. Every individual experiences stress. It can be dealt with or left to fester, grow and lead to relapse. It is important to recognize the symptoms of stress and how to cope. Other events in life can lead to stress and relapse if not handled properly. To keep oneself healthy and happy is important to recognizing if relapse may occur:


  • Avoidance of problems
  • Excessive boredom
  • Changes in hygiene or health
  • Changes in routine (sleeping, eating)
  • Conflict with otherss
  • Critical of oneself for not being good enough or failing to meet expectations
  • Dwelling on negative emotions, past or unresolved issues
  • Feeling overwhelmed by life
  • Isolation
  • Obsessive thinking about using drugs or drinking
  • Returning to place or people which trigger thoughts of using


Stress Management Plan

If any of the above feelings or behaviors arise, it may be time to assess what is happening. Warning signs indicate a problem not being dealt with properly which can create additional stress until a person relapses. The sooner a person notices the warning signs, the better. The longer signs are ignored, the closer a person becomes to relapse. A support system is critical in helping an individual manage stress effectively and lower the risk of relapse.


Relapse Prevention

A person who recognizes relapse is inevitable is in a place to do something about it rather than wait for relapse to occur. Sometimes it is not obvious and others notice signs of deterioration physically, emotionally and even spiritually in a downward spiral. It is important to recognize some preventive measures which can aid in long term recovery:

  • Self care which includes getting enough sleep, exercise, places to relax, asking for help and not isolating oneself during times of turmoil and upheaval (which are breeding grounds for relapse)
  • When thinking of using, play out the scenario and recognize the control is always in the individual’s hands. Go through the entire situation from wanting a drink to having the drink and notice what the consequences will be if that happens. Using will look less appealing when consequences are highlighted over the benefits.
  • Tell a trusted individual using is on the radar. Share what is happening and express all the feelings and thoughts which help the individual feel less alone and more connected to someone who does not judge those thoughts and feelings.
  • Find distraction from the thoughts
  • Take recovery day by day


Urges to use will occur but it is possible to prevent relapse. If you are struggling to stay clean or sober and need assistance, contact us. Let us help guide you towards resources and information that will give you strength and endurance for the path of recovery.