Relapse: What Are the Warning Signs?

Relapse is often seen as a failure, but it doesn’t have to be that way. In fact, it’s better to anticipate the possibility of relapse before it happens than to be blindsided by it later on. Being ready allows you to react quickly and effectively when the time comes, instead of finding yourself unprepared and at risk of creating another problem with substance abuse or addiction. Learn more about what the signs of relapse are so you can keep your recovery going strong in the long run.

Changes in Sleep Patterns

If a patient is struggling with drug addiction, it’s common for them to have trouble sleeping at night. While most of us experience trouble sleeping every now and then if you notice your loved one starts having trouble falling asleep or staying asleep consistently, it could be a sign of relapse. If they appear drowsy during their waking hours, they may be experiencing sleep deprivation as well. This may also be accompanied by restlessness during these waking hours due to withdrawal symptoms.

If you suspect that your loved one is having trouble sleeping, you may want to bring it up with them and offer to help. Make sure they understand that insomnia and drug use go hand in hand and if they don’t get more sleep, they’re less likely to stay sober. Encourage them to speak with their treatment team about taking part in a group therapy session where tips for improving sleep are discussed. Sleep medication might also be recommended by their physician.


Personality Changes

The most important thing to look for is any behaviour change. If you notice a shift in attitude or personality, it could be a sign of relapse. Some common personality changes that are red flags include getting angry easily or becoming moody. A person who’s about to relapse might also isolate himself from his loved ones and stop caring about his appearance. There are several other signs to look for, but they all tend to focus on personality changes and erratic behaviour patterns. The most important thing is to watch for unusual activities and then confront your loved one about them right away.


Change in Priorities

No one who relapses says they’re going to relapse. Usually, it happens over time, so it can be hard to notice. If your loved one starts spending a lot of time with new friends or begins neglecting responsibilities or commitments (such as work and school), there may be a problem. You may also see changes in attitude such as low self-esteem or depression. These are some common signs that your loved one is in danger of relapsing.

You may also see changes in attitude such as low self-esteem or depression. Be watchful for any changes, and if you notice them, talk to your loved one about them immediately. Don’t wait for a problem to develop into something worse before addressing it. The earlier you address problems and concerns, the better off you and your loved one will be.


Work Stress

While it may seem counterintuitive, high levels of stress can put you at risk for relapse. Intense feelings of stress may overwhelm you to a point where you feel as though there’s nothing left to lose. For example, if your company downsizes and your job is at risk, or your relationship comes to an end, or you are experiencing anxiety that is debilitating to day-to-day functioning (and so on), use extreme caution before considering relapsing. You might be in over your head.

There are ways to cope with stress at work, but they require you to put your addiction recovery first. If it’s clear that your employment is a toxic environment, and that continuing in it will bring you down even further, then find another job. There are plenty of opportunities out there, and if you’re truly focused on getting better, you can find one quickly. Whatever it takes—go get help and get back on track.


Relationship Stress

Relationship issues are often a significant contributor to relapse. If your relationship is causing you high amounts of stress, it can be detrimental to your sobriety. A therapist can help navigate these situations and work with you and your partner to alleviate any obstacles that could potentially lead to substance abuse. When therapy is done in conjunction with ongoing support groups, such as Alcoholics Anonymous (AA), it can be incredibly effective at preventing relapse.

The increased prevalence of online dating has also made it more difficult to avoid past relationships. Most dating sites will connect you with those that are close by, giving you a greater opportunity to run into someone from your past.

Steps to take if you see relapse signs: If you or a loved one is showing signs of a possible relapse, take these three steps immediately: 


  • Acknowledge that a problem exists; 
  • Seek professional help; and 
  • Get support from others in recovery.


Loss of Faith

One of the most common signs of relapse is loss of faith. When you’re depressed, you lose your ability to believe that things will ever get better. This can lead to despair and hopelessness, feelings that are commonly associated with addiction relapse. You may begin to feel as if it would be easier for everyone involved if you just gave up and let go of your sobriety or recovery altogether.

People experiencing serious depression are also at risk of developing suicidal thoughts. These often accompany feelings of worthlessness and low self-esteem, two things which may lead you to believe that your addiction is too much for you to overcome. But you can overcome your addiction—you just need to let go of your feelings of hopelessness.



Being lonely can make you more vulnerable to drug use. You might be stressed out from work or school, and reaching for drugs can feel like a way to cope. If you find yourself feeling lonely, reach out to friends and family for support instead of using drugs.

When you’re lonely, your sense of self-worth might get really low. You might have trouble sleeping and feel depressed. When these feelings hit, it can be tempting to reach for drugs to numb those emotions. But if you don’t treat these underlying issues when you’re sober, you’ll be more likely to relapse later on down the road. That’s why it is so crucial that loneliness doesn’t lead to drug use.


Spending Too Much Time on Social Media Sites

Social media sites can be alluring to recovering addicts and alcoholics. Whether or not you want to admit it, it’s not easy to break out of old habits. Knowing your triggers will keep you focused on your sobriety. For many people, social media is an addiction—staying away from social media might likely be in your best interest if you have a history of using these sites excessively before relapsing.

Spending excessive time on social media sites like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram can cause addicts to think about their past addictions. These feelings can be triggers that lead to relapse. The best way to avoid any such trigger is to stay away from them to protect your sobriety.


We Can Help

If you have concerns that your loved one might be exhibiting signs of relapse, contact Freeman House Recovery at +27 12 1111 739 to learn more about our alcohol and drug addiction treatment programmes. Our goal is to help you or your loved one achieve lasting sobriety and live a happy, healthy life. Contact us today to learn more!


About Freeman House Recovery 

Freeman House Recovery is a treatment centre for mental health and substance abuse. Our goal is to be able to give back by helping others in need. We are here to help you or your loved one find recovery from addiction and begin living a better life. Let us help you break free from drug and alcohol addiction. Call +27 12 1111 739 now! 

Relapse: What Are the Warning Signs?

Relapse: What Are the Warning Signs?

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