7 Signs My Loved One Has Relapsed

Recovering from addiction is a challenging journey, and unfortunately, relapse is a common occurrence. According to the American Medical Association Journal, approximately 50% of people relapse within a year of treatment. Recognizing the signs of relapse is crucial in order to intervene and provide support to your loved one. In this article, we will explore the warning signs of relapse and discuss ways to prevent it.

The Non-Linear Nature of Recovery

Recovery from addiction is not a linear process. It involves ups and downs, and sometimes progress may be followed by setbacks. Relapse is a part of this journey, and it is important to understand that it does not indicate failure. Instead, it offers an opportunity for growth and learning. It is crucial to approach relapse with empathy and support, rather than judgment.

The Slow Progression of Relapse

Relapse is not an event that occurs overnight. It is a slow process that begins with thoughts and progresses to actions. It can start weeks or even months before an individual actually uses substances again. People in the early stages of relapse may experience thoughts such as \”One drink won\’t hurt\” or \”I can handle using again.\” It is during these moments of denial that individuals have already entered the early stages of relapse.

Warning Signs of Relapse

Recognizing the warning signs of relapse can help you intervene and support your loved one. While the signs may vary from person to person, there are some common indicators to look out for:

1. High Levels of Stress

Stress is one of the most powerful predictors of relapse. If your loved one is experiencing high levels of stress due to significant life changes or a buildup of minor stressors, it is important to pay closer attention to them. Stressful circumstances such as job searching, divorce, or adjusting to life outside of rehab can increase the risk of relapse. Additionally, overreacting to minor inconveniences or displaying irritability may indicate that your loved one is feeling overwhelmed.

2. Attitude and Behavior Towards Sobriety

Initially, when your loved one leaves rehab, they may seem proud and enthusiastic about their sobriety. However, if you notice that they are becoming less engaged in their recovery program or seem less enthusiastic about their sobriety, it could be a sign of relapse. Changes in healthy routines, defensive behavior, or avoidance of recovery-related activities may also indicate a potential relapse.

3. Social Avoidance and Isolation

While it is normal for individuals in early recovery to feel uncomfortable around others, excessive social avoidance and isolation could be a red flag. If your loved one consistently avoids socializing or frequently cancels plans, it may indicate that they are struggling with their sobriety. Additionally, if you observe changes in their personal hygiene, weight, or overall appearance, it could be a sign that they are withdrawing from social interactions.

4. Risky Behavior and Exposure

Maintaining recovery requires a complete lifestyle change. When someone is relapsing, they may begin to engage in old habits and make risky decisions. They might rationalize social drinking or recreational drug use, even though these activities can quickly escalate into full-blown relapse. If your loved one is struggling to make healthy choices, displays confusion, or has difficulty controlling their impulses, they may be at risk of relapse. Additionally, if they start spending time with the same social circles that influenced their substance use in the past, it is a cause for concern.

Preventing Relapse: Supporting Your Loved One

While relapse can happen, there are ways to help prevent it and support your loved one\’s recovery. Here are some strategies to consider:

1. Encourage Self-Care

Self-care plays a crucial role in maintaining recovery. Encourage your loved one to prioritize self-care activities such as exercise, healthy eating, and practicing relaxation techniques. Remind them to take time for themselves and engage in activities that bring them joy and fulfillment.

2. Maintain Open Communication

Create a safe and non-judgmental space for your loved one to communicate. Let them know that they can talk to you about their struggles, fears, and challenges without fear of judgment. Active listening and empathy are vital during these conversations.

3. Identify and Avoid Triggers

Work together with your loved one to identify their triggers – people, places, or situations that may lead to cravings or temptations. Encourage them to avoid these triggers as much as possible and develop coping mechanisms to deal with them when they arise.

4. Introduce New Activities and Hobbies

Suggest new activities or hobbies that your loved one can engage in to replace their previous substance use. Encourage them to explore new interests, join clubs or groups, and develop a support network of like-minded individuals who can provide encouragement and accountability.

5. Be Non-Judgmental and Supportive

Avoid criticizing or judging your loved one for their past mistakes or struggles. Instead, offer support, understanding, and encouragement. Let them know that you believe in their ability to overcome challenges and make positive changes.

6. Attend Therapy or Support Groups Together

If your loved one is open to it, offer to attend therapy or support group sessions with them. This can provide additional support and help you better understand their journey. It also shows your commitment to their recovery.

7. Create a Substance-Free Environment

Remove any alcohol or drugs from the living environment to reduce temptation and make it easier for your loved one to sustain their recovery. Create a supportive atmosphere that fosters sobriety and healthy habits.

8. Share Your Own Recovery Journey

If you have personal experience with addiction and recovery, share your story with your loved one. Let them know that they are not alone and that you understand the challenges they are facing. Hearing about your own struggles and successes can provide hope and inspiration.

9. Offer Support Whenever Possible

Be there for your loved one in times of need. Offer support, whether it\’s accompanying them to appointments, helping with household tasks, or simply being a listening ear. Your presence and support can make a significant difference in their recovery journey.


Relapse is a common part of the recovery process, but it can be prevented with the right support and intervention. By recognizing the warning signs of relapse and providing the necessary support, you can help your loved one stay on track with their recovery. Remember to approach relapse with empathy and understanding, and always prioritize their well-being. Together, you can navigate the challenges of addiction and promote lasting recovery. Call us at 833-610-1174.

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