Maintaining sobriety for a person struggling with drug addiction can be an everyday challenge. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, people recovering from addiction often experience at least one relapse. Although the potential for relapse is present, understanding the warning signs of drug addiction relapse can be greatly beneficial in reducing its impact or avoiding relapse altogether.
What Is a Drug Addiction Relapse?
Relapse is the return to drug or alcohol use after maintaining a period of sobriety. Because addiction is a chronic disease, relapse can occur regardless of how long a person has been in recovery. The rate at which people in recovery will relapse according to research is similar to that of other chronic, relapsing diseases, such as asthma or hypertension.
Relapse is broken down into three stages:
Emotional: Often the first stage of relapse, occurring before a recovering person even begins to think about using again. Negative emotional responses, including moodiness, anger or anxiousness may be felt, in addition to changes in eating and sleeping patterns.
Mental: Usually the second stage of the process of drug addiction relapse, this is typically when a person experiences internal struggle during recovery. They may want to remain sober but part of them is battling their inner side that wants to use again. When this phase arises, it can be difficult for a person to stop their thought process without proper support and it can be very difficult for them to battle, often leading to them giving into their thoughts about using again.
Physical: The physical aspect of relapse occurs when a person actually uses or consumes the substance, physically breaking their sobriety. This can lead to intense cravings to continue to use the substance(s), potentially causing the person to enter into active addiction again.
Drug Addiction Relapse Triggers
Different people experience different triggers that cause them to succumb to temptation, including:
- Stressful environments, such as a doctor’s office or hospital
- Relationship issues
- Family or friends who misuse alcohol or drugs
- Environments, such as parties, where people use alcohol and drugs
- Feeling bored
- Stressful situations in life, such as finals for college students or work reviews
What Are the Signs of Drug Addiction Relapse?
It is important for those in recovery to learn the signs of drug addiction relapse, but it is also important that friends and family be educated on what to look for, including potential triggers to help their loved one along the way.
Some of the top warning signs of drug addiction relapse include:
- Asking to borrow money, especially if the person repeatedly asks.
- Theft, which could take the form of items suddenly disappearing from your home, including jewelry, clothing, electronics, etc.
- Changes in hygiene and physical appearance.
- Denial or defensiveness toward your concerns about their behavior.
- Missing therapy sessions or meetings.
- Impulsivity, including any actions that seem out of character.
- Sudden changes in mood, including irritability, dissent, anger, anxiety, etc.
- Reconnecting with previous contacts, especially old acquaintances or friends who the person cut ties during recovery to reduce temptation.
How To Get Help With a Drug Addiction Today
Just as with other chronic disease conditions, treatment does not cure an individual of the disease of addiction. It does however help patients to manage addiction through medication, therapies, and/or education that teaches healthy coping skills. These efforts are proven to have the ability to counteract effects on the brain while encouraging change from destructive behaviors.
Refine Recovery understands how critical it is to have the right support in place during drug addiction recovery. Our staff is ready to help you or your loved one through the recovery process, whether you are at the beginning of the road or have hit a bump and are ready to get back on track with your sobriety. Contact us today to get started.