When your loved one returns home from treatment, the recovery process is not complete. Recovery is an ongoing process that has its fair share of good and bad days. In time, things get easier, but relapse is never out of the question. When recovering addicts face stressful situations, it’s possible for them to return to the practice they know best: using drugs or alcohol.
Relapse is not failure, and it’s certainly not giving up. In fact, some people relapse several times before they stay sober. It’s important to realize this, as a loved one who has relapsed needs immediate care and continued treatment. The best approach, however, is to spot an addict before they relapse. It’s a small window, but if you can act early, you may be able to prevent your loved one from actually using.
Warning Signs of Relapse
Here are some ways to spot an addict who is heading for relapse.
They are getting too comfortable.
Some recovering addicts get a false sense of security when it comes to their recovery. If your loved one is overconfident in their progress, remind them that they are still recovering and need to take things slow. Otherwise, they may be willing to put themselves in difficult situations, such as going to nightclubs or hanging with old friends.
They stop following their treatment plan.
When your loved one returns from treatment, they will be given a continuing care plan to follow. If you find that your loved one is not doing what they’re supposed to – skipping meetings, shutting out family members, spending time at old hangouts – they are at risk for relapse.
They start reminiscing about their drug using days.
Drugs and alcohol have a way of changing the brain, so it takes time for addicts to heal and see their drug use for what it was. In the meantime, some addicts will associate drugs and alcohol with fun, relaxation and enjoyment. If your loved one starts reminiscing about the “good old days” and forgetting all the misery they had, relapse is a possibility.
They start acting selfish and moody.
Sometimes called a “dry drunk” this happens when a person is sober but they haven’t changed their attitude. The reason why it’s important to shake the negative attitude is because this way of thinking can lead right back to substance abuse. Your loved one needs to do more than simply stay off drugs and alcohol. They must learn coping skills, develop strong interpersonal skills and have outlets for stress and anxiety. Twelve step groups are helpful for developing these skills and keeping people away from drugs and alcohol.
Most importantly, listen to your gut. You know your family best, and you don’t need a clear warning sign or validation that your suspicions are correct. If you feel that your loved one is at risk for relapse, bolster the recovery regimen. Talk to the treatment center, their sponsor or a therapist for the best ways to do this.