No one’s path in life is typically linear. There will be times when challenges occur, leading to what feels like taking a step backward. And a relapse can sometimes feel like a disheartening misstep from the progress that’s been made. This is why you never want anyone you know to experience a relapse. Knowing relapse warning signs can be your way to help.
When you understand the most common relapse warning signs, you can recognize when your loved one needs help. And you can step in before things get out of hand.
What Is a Relapse?
A relapse is when a person experiences a recurrence of a condition. In terms of an addiction, a relapse is when a person stops their sobriety and starts taking substances or alcohol again. Alternatively, a mental help relapse is when someone who’s made positive progress in managing their symptoms sees a rise in the severity or frequency of symptoms again.
Six Relapse Warning Signs for Substance Abuse
Here are the most common substance abuse relapse signals to watch out for in a loved one.
- Changes in Attitude
If you notice a dramatic change in attitude that’s persistent, it could be a warning sign. Mood swings, irritability and outbursts are all warning signs someone is dealing with the highs and lows of substance abuse.
- Changes in Behavior
Watch out for a sudden, dramatic change in their behavior. If your loved one has new sleeping or eating habits, seems to be missing school or work and is suddenly disinterested in their passion projects, it can be an indication they’re using substances again.
Someone who’s isolating themselves from friends and family very suddenly may be trying to cover up their revived addiction.
- Personal Hygiene Issues
A full-blown addiction often makes the person prioritize their cravings above all else, including their hygiene. If your loved one is notably not caring for themselves, you have to ask yourself why.
- Concerning Relationships
As a person gets sober, they often end relationships with people who are still in an active addiction. So, if you suddenly notice that past relationships with concerning people have been rekindled, it’s definitely a warning sign.
It’s natural for someone battling an addiction to lie to cover up their tracks. If you’re starting to frequently catch a loved one lying, it’s time to evaluate what’s really going on.
Three Relapse Warning Signs: Mental Health
Mental health relapse symptoms can be more challenging to identify because they largely depend on the mental health condition itself. For example, falling back into depression might look different from falling into general anxiety disorder. Still, there are some common relapse warning signs to watch out for.
- Changes in Sleep Habits
If someone is dealing with intense symptoms from their mental illness, there’s a high probability their sleep will be impacted. Mental health conditions take a toll on the mind and our emotions, which can often lead to new sleep patterns. Watch out for a loved one suddenly not sleeping at night or sleeping excessively (over 9 hours a day).
- Changes in Eating Habits
Some people use food to cope and eat for comfort, while others lose their appetite when stressed. If you see signs of excessive eating or a lack of appetite, either can be an indicator of a mental health relapse.
- Old Behaviors Reappearing
If you were around when your loved one was struggling with their mental health symptoms previously, you likely already know what that looks like. The same old behaviors reappearing are a strong indicator your loved one is struggling with their mental health symptoms again.
Strategies for Preventing Relapse
By recognizing relapse indicators early on, you can respond to the risk and potentially stop the relapse from happening. Here are some strategies to prevent a full-blown relapse:
- Try talking about it. They might not realize the path they’re going down and may benefit from the outside perspective.
- Prioritize self-care. This includes eating a healthy diet, exercising, sleeping well and meditating. Self-care habits help people put themselves first, prioritize their wellness and make good decisions.
- Never stop seeking support. Even if someone believes they’re in a stable place with their addiction or mental health condition, it’s vital to continue occasional check-ins with others. A check-in can be with a support group or a therapist. These are helpful because a third party can help recognize and point out the early warning signs of relapse.
- Consider daily journaling. Deep down, most people likely know when they’re slipping back into old ways. Journaling is a great habit that forces people to reflect on their feelings. It’s good for overall mental health and can help a person see trends in their mental state.
Ultimately, relapses happen, and they’re nothing to be ashamed of. It’s estimated that 40%-60% of people struggling with a substance abuse addiction have a relapse at some point.
If your loved one is currently in the midst of a relapse, remember that shame and anger aren’t the way to help.
Your goal should be to have an open conversation about the relapse and encourage them to get help. Take the following steps when approaching them:
- Note any proof you have of the suspected relapse. Your loved one’s response might be to deny, so you’ll want to be able to back up your statements.
- Use “I” versus “you” statements when talking. You should focus on sharing sentiments like “I’m worried” rather than “You’re making a mistake.”
- Most likely, your loved one needs professional help to get them through this relapse. Research a facility you approve of and offer to take them there yourself.
FHE Health Offers Relapse Support
FHE Health is a top-tier addiction and mental health treatment facility. Our staff are experienced and trained to help individuals get through their challenges so they can get back to healthy, happy living. You don’t have to cope with a relapse on your own. Contact us today to find out which of our programs best fits your needs.