Signs of Relapse You May not Be Aware Of

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Many people consider relapse to be binary – it either happens or it doesn’t. However, relapse is actually a very slow process that occurs gradually over time. When a person completes their treatment at an addiction treatment center in Florida, for example, they have to contend with all the challenges that life without using a substance means. Over time, it may get more and more difficult to remain sober and many people succumb to relapse. The reason why relapse might be difficult to spot is that it happens in three stages. Furthermore, there are many signs of relapse you may not be aware of. In this article, we are going to explain the three stages of relapse and provide you with some of the more uncommon relapse signs.

The three stages of relapse

Relapse is exceptionally common in recovering addicts. It usually starts very subtly but it gets increasingly worse very quickly. After someone finishes their recovery in an alcohol rehab Florida center, for example, they may find that life without alcohol can be extremely difficult. While some people may be able to resist the urge, many succumb to relapse after some time.

golden number three on a green background
Almost every relapse will involve three stages.

To fully understand how relapse works, we need to observe its three stages. The stages are:

  • Emotional relapse
  • Mental relapse
  • Physical relapse

Normally, a person will go through all of the stages in order, but emotional relapse and mental relapse might be intertwined. It is also quite normal for someone to experience mental relapse first and emotional relapse second. Furthermore, it is also possible to suffer from both emotional and mental relapse at the same time.

The best way to fight relapse is to understand it first. Therefore, knowing how each stage may influence someone’s mind is a great place to start.

Emotional relapse

Usually the first phase in the relapse process, emotional relapse occurs when a person is not actively trying to get back to their own ways. Instead, they adopt certain behaviors and develop strong emotions that may push them toward relapsing. Here are some of the most common signs that may indicate that emotional relapse is happening to you or someone else:

  • Mood swings
  • Not asking for help when you need it
  • Poor sleeping/eating habits
  • Focusing on other people’s problems instead of your own
  • Being defensive
  • Not managing emotional problems in a healthy way
two smilies in a box
Even a seemingly happy person can succumb to emotional relapse.

If you want to prevent relapse from happening, it is usually ideal to recognize emotional relapse and stop the entire process in its tracks. There are a number of ways to do so, depending on the specific symptoms. For example, if you have a problem with anxiety, breathing techniques can help. However, the very fact that you are able to recognize that emotional relapse is taking place is usually all that you need to change your life for the better.

By not paying enough attention to your (or someone else’s) emotional state, you are allowing relapse to bubble and fester. If you allow it to proceed to the next stages, you might find yourself asking if  insurance covers rehab very soon. Even though going to see a therapist might be a dent in your budget, it is but a fraction of the cost that a full treatment program entails. Luckily, even if you don’t spot the relapse process in the emotional stage, you still have the opportunity to stop it in the mental relapse stage.

Mental relapse

Once someone has spent some time in the emotional relapse stage, chances are that they will transition to the mental relapse stage at some point. This stage is characterized by both wanting and not wanting to return to substance use, at the same time. During the mental relapse stage, a person will practically “fight” with themselves. The person in this stage will fantasize about substance abuse and chastise themselves for doing so. This can be incredibly difficult to contend with over a long period of time. What makes things worse is that people who have “graduated” from an oxycodone rehab center, for example, may not have all the support they require to help them overcome their urges. The longer the mental relapse stage is allowed to continue, the harder it will be to maintain a sober frame of mind.

Figuring out that someone is in a mental relapse stage can be very difficult, but not impossible. The problem is that most of the signs are inside the person’s own mind, which means that there might not be a significant change in their outward behavior. Furthermore, it is also important to note that simply thinking about using a particular substance from time to time is not in itself a mental relapse. Mental relapse means that you start thinking about making an actual choice.

Physical relapse

The last stage of relapse is when a person “actually relapses”, also known as physical relapse. Once it gets to this stage, the addiction might kick in even sooner than before. The best thing to do if you notice that someone has relapsed is to have them seek treatment immediately. If you manage to “catch” the physical relapse in its early days, it may be possible that a simple partial hospitalization program Florida will be enough. Otherwise, a full course of treatment will usually be necessary. In other words, the sooner someone is able to receive treatment, the better.

person heating up a spoon with a lighter
Physical relapse is when a person starts actively using the substance again.

Relapse, especially physical relapse, never happens in a vacuum. There are numerous signs that relapse is about to occur (or has occurred already) that you might be able to spot. However, this means that you need to be aware of the signs. While you might be aware of some common signs of relapse, there are many others that you might not be aware of. To help you figure out whether your loved one is in danger of relapsing, we have compiled a handy list of 10 relapse signs you might not be aware of.

10 Signs of relapse you may not be aware of

  1. Being impulsive
  2. Developing a cross addiction
  3. Not caring for oneself
  4. Being overconfident
  5. Speaking about past substance use in a positive way
  6. Being dishonest
  7. Having a lack of interest in sober activities
  8. Significant changes in attitude
  9. Displaying avoidant behavior
  10. Disregarding recovery practices

It is also worth noting that any behavioral change is worth investigating. Of course, a person will never be exactly the same as before after they complete their treatment process. During their time in an IOP Palm Beach program, for example, a person will learn a lot about themselves and how their thoughts, actions, and emotions influence their life. However, that does not necessarily mean that everyone who finishes a treatment program will be able to resist relapsing. In fact, around 50% of former addicts relapse shortly after they start living their normal life. Almost every single time, a person will experience a significant change in behavior before they actually relapse.

person pushing another person, symbolizing one of the signs of relapse you may not be aware of
Even a small behavioral change can indicate a relapse.

By knowing how to recognize these changes, you might be able to shift the odds in your loved one’s favor. It may also happen that you are experiencing the signs yourself but are unsure of what they mean. Either way, let’s take a look at some of the signs of relapse you might not be aware of.

Impulsiveness as a sign of relapse

While impulsiveness may be a character trait, it can also indicate that relapse is occurring. Most people do tend to be somewhat more impulsive after they complete their treatment in an inpatient rehab Florida center, of course, but these feelings usually subside after a short period of time. If you happen to notice that a recovering former addict is being overly impulsive all of a sudden, you might want to investigate further. More often than not, the person is experiencing either an emotional or mental relapse and they might need help. Of course, it is entirely possible that someone has a lot of things going on and that impulsiveness is their defense mechanism. If you don’t investigate, however, you will never know for certain.

Cross-addiction and relapse

One of the most common signs of relapse you may not be aware of is cross-addiction. What happens in many cases is that recovering addicts substitute their former addiction with a new one. The new addiction does not necessarily have to revolve around any particular substance either, although it is very common. While many people turn to legal, less addictive substances such as nicotine to cope with their recovery, others find themselves addicted to shopping, gambling, exercising, etc.

What makes cross-addiction extremely difficult to spot is the fact that a person can become addicted to perfectly healthy activities, such as working out. However, if you happen to notice that someone exhibits signs of addiction to a particular substance or activity, you may want to look out for other signs of relapse.

a person working out
A person can even get addicted to exercise.

Not caring for oneself can be a definite sign

As anyone who has been through any sort of treatment knows very well, self-care is absolutely critical. Once a person stops caring about one of the most important persons in the world (themselves), relapsing is highly likely. After all, if you don’t think that caring about yourself is important, why should it be important that you stay sober? The lack of self-care makes relapse much more likely, extremely likely even. It is one of the more definite signs that a relapse is about to occur or it has already occurred. Think about it for a moment, what is the first thing that most heroin rehab Florida programs teach to their clients? How to take proper care of oneself. Luckily, this sign is rather easy to spot, even though some individuals might go to great lengths to cover it.

Being overconfident is one of the signs of relapse you may not be aware of

Being confident in your recovery process is good, amazing even. Overconfidence, on the other hand, is not as much. When someone is being overconfident, it means that they are ignoring the real challenges that lay ahead of them. For recovering addicts, overconfidence is a quick way to future relapse. What usually happens is that someone feels a lot better after their treatment and thinks that they don’t need to follow up. They may pull out of group sessions, stop seeing their therapist, etc. The thing is, the treatment for addiction is not over once someone leaves the treatment center. No, it continues for quite some time after that. Most people require several months, years even, to be able to live their life completely normally. Some people may take decades, and some will require treatment for the rest of their life.

Addiction is a very nasty disease, one that simply cannot be underestimated. If someone is being too confident of their recovery, it simply means that they are not taking their former addiction very seriously.

Speaking about past substance use in a positive way usually leads to relapse

The fact of the matter is that everyone who has ever abused any substance will have fond memories of their substance use. However, there is a world of difference between passing thoughts and actively talking about how “cool” it was. In fact, there is nothing that is more dangerous to someone that is actively trying to recover than reflecting on the good times they’ve had. The way our minds process memories is usually highly selective. We tend to remember things in extremes. We either only take note of the good parts or of the bad parts, never both at the same time. For example, a person who is undergoing a meth rehab Florida program might think about their previous substance use in a very unfavorable light. Of course, this is exactly the right approach to take and is one that is fostered by every good rehab center in the country.

a happy person
Romanticizing past substance use is never good.

However, once a person is out on their own, they might start discounting all the bad things involving their previous substance use and focusing on the positives. If you find out that you or your loved one is frequently talking about how good the previous times were, you might want to act upon it. More often than not, this sort of thinking leads to the three stages of relapse.

Dishonesty is usually a good sign of relapse

Dishonesty is another one of the signs of relapse you may not be aware of. The problem with dishonesty is that lying is so ingrained in today’s society that it can be difficult to figure out exactly why a person is being dishonest. While it may be difficult for recovering addicts to be completely honest with their friends and family members all the time, being overly dishonest usually means that they are trying to hide something.

One of the most common lies that former addicts tell to their social circle is that they are attending their therapy sessions when, in fact, they are not. This is why it is quite important to verify everything that someone who has recently been through recovery says. Don’t think of it as an invasion of privacy, either, think of it as being vigilant. After all, half of the people who undergo treatment for any sort of addiction relapse at some point. That being said, you may not want to treat every single lie as a sign of relapse. Instead, try to figure out whether there are any patterns that might indicate a relapse.

We all “have” to lie at some point, after all, due to a variety of reasons. It may so happen that your loved one is lying to you because they don’t want you to worry. Of course, realizing the lie usually makes you worry even more, for good reasons.

Having a lack of interest in sober activities means that relapse might have already occurred

Once a person stops showing any interest in sober activities, it usually means that they are in danger of relapsing. Everyone needs to have fun from time to time, after all. By purposefully isolating themselves, recovering addicts are oftentimes being put into a situation where there is only one answer – go back to your former ways and feel good again.

an unmotivated person, suffering from one of the signs of relapse you may not be aware of
A lack of motivation can also indicate a relapse.

Figuring out someone’s lack of interest in sober activities can be quite challenging, however. You don’t want to “jump the gun” and scream relapse whenever someone decides they would rather spend their time not partaking in a social activity. In fact, many recovering addicts find it extremely difficult to attend social gatherings, as they fear being judged and discriminated against. However, if you find out that your loved one has stopped partaking in any sober activities, social or not, it is usually a sign that they are in one of the stages of relapse.

Significant changes in attitude might be worth investigating

As far as signs of relapse you may not be aware of go, changes in behavior can be the most problematic ones to spot. They can be extremely subtle and might go unnoticed until it is too late. This is why you may want to keep a close eye on how your loved one is behaving, at all times. After completing their rehab, it is quite normal that their behavior changes slightly. What is not normal, however, is your loved one starts exhibiting extreme behavioral changes. This may indicate a number of problems, relapse being one of them. What you might want to do is talk to your loved one and see what might be causing their sudden and significant change in behavior.

Do note that behavioral changes and dishonesty usually go hand-in-hand. If you spot these two signs together, chances are that relapse is imminent, or has already occurred.

Displaying avoidant behavior may indicate relapse

When someone avoids other people, they usually do so out of fear or discomfort. However, when recovering addicts start avoiding other people, this usually means that they have something to hide. Perhaps they don’t want to be caught in a lie, or they might not be able to hide the other signs of relapse. Either way, avoidant behavior is never good for people that are fresh out of recovery. By spending more time on their own, former addicts are in much greater danger of relapse, as there is no one around to help them get their thoughts in check.

person in a dark room
Self-isolation is one of the most common signs of relapse you may not be aware of.

If you happen to realize that your loved one is avoiding most of their friends, family members, and other people in their life, it is usually worthwhile to investigate further. There might be good reasons for avoidance, sure, but relapse is much more likely.

Disregarding recovery practices usually leads to relapse

Recovering from an addiction can be a very tedious process. There are all sorts of good practices that one needs to adopt if one wants to cure themselves of addiction. Disregarding these practices, however, usually means that the person is not taking their recovery very seriously. This, in turn, often leads to relapse after some time.

The best way to spot this particular sign in short order is to take an active interest in your loved one’s recovery. Have them tell you what they are supposed to do (and when) as soon as they finish their treatment at the recovery center. Then get in touch with the center on your own to verify that what you’ve heard is true. While this may seem a bit “underhanded”, it is absolutely necessary. Otherwise, you will simply not be able to know whether your loved one is telling the truth or not.

The simple fact that we are all unique means that there are a lot more signs of relapse you may not be aware of. The best thing you can do is closely monitor your loved one and act on every behavioral change you can spot. Even if it happens that your worries are unfounded, it is always better to do something than to do nothing.

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