Addiction is defined by the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) as a “chronic, relapsing brain disease that is characterized by repetitive drug use and abuse in spite of harmful consequences.” The word “relapse” is in the definition for a reason. Relapse is a part of many people’s struggle with addiction before they finally achieve lifelong recovery or succumb to the disease. Relapse can happen within the first few months of sobriety or many years after because there is currently no cure for addiction. Being knowledgeable about relapse signs and triggers will make it easier to manage your addiction.

1. Emotional Changes

The first relapse symptoms that are typically noticed are changes in your overall emotional state. If you are becoming more depressed, anxious, and/or angry overall, you are more susceptible to relapse because you are not being relieved from negative emotions.

2. Stress

Small amounts of stress and worry are acceptable because they can motivate you to take positive action. However, excessive amounts of unresolved stress and worry are not healthy and are major risks factors for relapse.

3. Denial

Denial is dangerous because you are not realizing the severity of your problem. If you are not attuned to the severity of your problem, you cannot effectively fix it. If others are telling you that they are noticing signs of relapse and you automatically shoot them down instead of being open to what they have to say, you may be in denial. If you catch yourself thinking along the lines of “It’s not that bad,” or “I can have one glass of wine at the party,” be aware.

4. Isolation

Recovery is about being active in a community of others who can understand you. If you are slipping in your recovery program, you may be tempted to isolate by skipping meetings or recovery-related events.

5. Return of Old Defects of Character

Dry drunk syndrome or having the same behaviors of an actively using person as a sober person is real. If you are exhibiting the same behavior patterns (e.g. lying, manipulation, selfishness, judgement, anger, control, etc.) as you exhibited when you were actively using, your sobriety may be at risk along with your character.

6. Hanging Around Old Friends Who are Active in Addiction

Even if you are not using with them, hanging around old friends who are still active in addiction is a major threat to your recovery. Just being around them can remind you of your active addiction days and make you want to go back to using.

7. Changes in Attitude about Recovery

Those who are firm in their recovery have a positive attitude about it. If you are becoming resentful about recovery, you may be at risk of relapsing.

8. Routine Changes

Not going to the gym, skipping work for no reason, not eating healthy, and changes in other healthy routines makes the foundation for your weak.

9. Poor Judgement or Loss of Self Control

You may be engaging in more riskier behaviors (e.g. speeding, shoplifting, overeating, and unprotected sex) to get a high off them. Getting high off of engaging in other risky behaviors is only a prerequisite to using alcohol or drugs again.

10. Return of Substance use

The most evident sign of relapse is return of substance use. Alcohol rehab colorado can help you get back on track.

How to Respond to Relapse Warning Signs

Reaching out to the recovery community is the greatest way to prevent relapse when you feel like your recovery is in jeopardy. Professional help may also be necessary. It is easier to prevent a problem than solve a problem. If you do relapse, get into detox and an alcohol recovery center as soon as possible. Addiction relapse does not have to be an end; it can simply be a lesson.


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