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Signs Your Loved One May Relapse

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If you have a loved one who has gone through a substance abuse problem and is in recovery, part of your time is spent worrying about the chance of a relapse and a return to those bad times. Most people who get clean or sober have some slip here or there and frequently it does them well in the long run, even though at the time you were completely panicked. With the passage of time accumulating for your loved one, your time spent worrying also decreases. But what about for those of us whose loved one relapses? What are the signs your loved one may relapse? 

Signs Your Loved One May Relapse

While there are no concrete signs that comprise the definitive checklist, exhibiting any of these behaviors means they are covering something up, and for people in recovery, that usually means a relapse and return to regular substance abuse. Regardless, there are signs your loved one may relapse and that a problem exists. And, if you permit it or make excuses, you are enabling that addiction to return. Wars often require multiple battles and knowing the difference between a “slip” and a full-blown relapse can help when speaking with an addict. Whenever confronting an addict about a slip or relapse, be wary, as the wrong approach can send an addict further down their spiral.


When someone is using drugs or alcohol they often have to lie. Whether they lied to their work and stayed home or lied to someone claiming they were at work or elsewhere while they used that time as an excuse to get wasted, lying is part and parcel of substance abuse. For a loved one who has been in recovery for some time and worked the steps, lying is indicative they are probably not making their meetings or worse, they are secretly drinking or drugging and lying by claiming to be elsewhere. When they cannot account for hours or days of their time, chances are good that it is a sign of a looming relapse and should be addressed as quickly as possible. 

Recurring signs of withdrawal

Keep in mind, someone in recovery still has to face the stressors of normal life, but when they exhibit additional signs like anxiety, nervousness, trouble sleeping or other negative traits, these could be triggers for that person to use again. The mental urge to use lasts long past the physical symptoms so an increase in any of these could be warning signs that a relapse is coming, so pay heed to any dramatic changes in personality. 

Hanging out around party friends

If someone resumes hanging out with the same crowd that led to them using, that is a very big warning sign of a potential relapse. By associating with people who abuse substances the risks of at least a slip, grow exponentially and one slip might not signal the end, but excusing that slip and continuing to hang out around the same crowd or in the same place, just increase the chances that a slip will turn into a full relapse. 

Growing defensive

Most addicts in recovery accept the fact they will be questioned going forward and submit to it willingly but those people who grow angry and defensive or vociferously object to any type of question are indicative of addictive behavior. Instead of being grateful for their chance at a new beginning they exhibit anger or righteousness over having to give up their drug or drinking, these types of reactions usually indicate dangerous behavior and a return to their addiction.

Changes in appearance or behavior

Whether changes in behavior like being secretive or sudden changes in their physical appearance like dressing slovenly, being dirty, changes in someone whose life is supposed to be the epitome of routine, is a likely sign of relapse. In the mind of the addict, their habit comes first above all else to the detriment of their behavior and takes a toll on an addict’s appearance and behavior. 

Ignoring problems

Addicts often have problems facing life’s issues and dealing with problems. When they deny a problem exists many turn to using, creating a new problem instead of simply dealing with the original issue. The same can be true for people in recovery, just because they are not actively under the influence, does not mean they are better. People often get stuck in the rut of recovery and attend their meetings but do not really take the lessons to heart or try and better their thinking. 

Addiction Treatment in Houston

If you or someone you care about suffers from a substance abuse issue, getting help is easy, remaining clean and sober can be a challenge especially the first time real problems arise. Facing down life’s problems requires a strong, sober foundation and frequently the support of a sponsor and others, that is part of the reason 12-step groups are successful, they provide that much-needed support group. If you or a loved one suffers from substance abuse or is in recovery and struggling, contact the team at Purpose Driven Recovery by calling (713) 266-1507 or, click here to email them. 

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