Signs of Relapse You May not Be Aware Of

As strange as it may sound, relapse is a very normal part of any recovery process. In fact, almost 60% of all individuals who go through recovery relapse at some point. While this is not desirable by any means, relapsing to your old habits is not a sign of failure. However, at Little Creek Recovery Center, we fully understand that relapse can be quite hard on both the person that is relapsing and their loved ones. Therefore, spotting the signs of relapse may be critical. While you may be able to spot common relapse signs, some symptoms may be harder to detect. That is why this article will showcase a few signs of relapse you may not be aware of.

9 Signs of relapse you may not be aware of

Relapse usually comes in three stages: Emotional relapse, mental relapse, and physical relapse. While these stages usually go one after the other, it may so happen that a person goes straight into physical relapse (returning to use their substance of choice). While there is not much to do after someone physically relapses, aside from seeking additional treatment at a drug rehab center in Reading PA, for example, emotional and mental relapse can be discovered and acted upon. In order to do that, however, one needs to understand the symptoms of a relapse. While you may be aware of some of the most common relapse signs, there are quite a few signs you may not be aware of. They include:

  1. Neglecting recovery practices
  2. Speaking fondly about past substance use
  3. Lack of interest in fun sober activities
  4. Lack of self-care
  5. Cross addiction
  6. Overconfidence
  7. Dishonesty
  8. Impulsiveness
  9. Significant attitude changes
many wooden signs
Relapse has a lot of signs. Some of them you might not already know about.

Before we go into detail about the signs themselves, it is important to understand that neither of these signs guarantees that someone relapsed. They are, at best, guidelines that may lead you to investigate further. If you notice any of these signs, it may be best to talk to your loved one and have them explain the situation. Depending on their answer, you will know what to do next.

With that in mind, let’s take a more in-depth look into these lesser-known relapse signs.

Neglecting recovery practices

Once someone is out of rehab, they may start neglecting good recovery practices. Even the most committed individuals have trouble keeping up with their recovery program from time to time. They may stop visiting their Princeton NJ drug rehab center for scheduled meetings, or they can cancel some of their therapy appointments. If you want to spot this sign, you may need to check in with your loved one’s therapy counselors from time to time to verify whether everything is going according to the program. Checking up on your loved one’s progress is never a bad thing to do, in any case.

Furthermore, you may want to keep an eye on who your loved one chooses to spend their time with. If they start socializing with their old crew, it may be a good sign that relapse has already occurred or that it is imminent. Even the strongest-willed individuals may relapse if they are in a group of people who constantly abuse substances. Whether there is any peer pressure or not is irrelevant, the mere presence or mention of substance abuse can drive someone to relapse.

Speaking fondly about past substance use

If you notice that your loved one speaks fondly about their substance use period, it may signify that they are about to relapse. Of course, they might simply be reminiscing about great times they’ve had but this in itself is very dangerous. When you romanticize a bad habit, you risk the danger of blurring your memory just enough to relapse into your old ways. Not everyone will fall into this trap, of course, but most will.

two people talking about signs of relapse you may not be aware of
Talking about the “good old times” of substance abuse is usually indicative of relapse.

Interestingly enough, some people may romanticize their time in the recovery center. This is also dangerous, as it may lead them to go back there as a patient again. If your loved one starts talking about how great of a time they had in a drug rehab center Newburgh NY, for example, you might want to consider keeping a closer eye on them. Basically, any talk that involves substance abuse and fond memories has the potential to induce a relapse.

Lack of interest in fun sober activities

Isolation is one of the most common signs of relapse. When a person does not want others to see them, it may indicate that they’ve returned to their old ways. However, it may so happen that someone specifically wants to avoid showing this sign. Instead, they may simply stop partaking in fun sober activities. While choosing to miss a few events may not be enough to warrant suspicion, regular avoidance may indicate that a relapse has either occurred or that it is imminent.

If you happen to notice that your loved one is suddenly avoiding partaking in activities that they loved, talk to them. Before you attribute their behavior to relapse, see if there aren’t any other reasons that may be influencing their decision.

Lack of self-care

Recovery from substance abuse and addiction is all about self-care. Failure to care about oneself is almost a telltale sign that relapse is about to happen or it has already happened. When a person stops being concerned about their well-being, they may think that it does not matter if they relapse or not. If that happens, relapse is much more likely to occur than not. Caring about oneself is not all about minding your physical appearance, either. This is why drug rehab centers in Edison NJ usually offer self-care courses. Learning how to care for yourself is a vital part of any recovery process. Even if someone is able to lean on a great support system, they still need to practice self-care on a regular basis.

person next to a window
Lack of self-care makes relapse much more likely.

Cross addiction

A person in recovery needs a way to cope with life without the substance they were previously abusing. Unfortunately, many people choose to substitute their addiction with another one. Cross-addiction does not mean that a person will start using illicit drugs or other harmful substances, either. A person that has undergone cocaine addiction rehab, for example, can get “addicted” to many things, such as sex, gaming, gambling, etc. Basically, if you spot any compulsive behavior in your loved one, you may want to react.

One of the notable signs of relapse you may not be aware of – Overconfidence

Feeling confident about your recovery is great. However, when you start showing signs of overconfidence, relapse becomes much more likely. If you notice that your loved one always speaks like their recovery is going perfectly, something may be wrong. The fact is that recovery is not an easy process, there are significant challenges that need to be overcome. Being confident that you can manage your cravings is one thing but quitting treatment because you “feel better” is another thing entirely. If you start noticing that your loved one is no longer pursuing their long-term recovery goals, it is best to inquire about the situation further. While it may happen that they really do have a handle on their recovery, relapsing is much more common.


We all “have” to lie at some point. However, lying about whether you’ve eaten your vegetables and lying about going to therapy are two very different things. A person in recovery has to understand that their loved ones will be inquiring about how they spend their money, about who they are seeing, and whether they are attending therapy sessions. Choosing to lie about attending DBT for alcohol use disorder, for example, usually signals that a person has relapsed, or is about to relapse. What you may want to do is pay attention to how many lies your loved one is telling. Secretive behavior is quite common for people who are about to relapse or are hiding their relapse, after all.

Impulsiveness is one of the signs of relapse you may not be aware of

It is perfectly normal to think that being impulsive comes with the recovery process. However, any rash decisions or actions may mean that relapse has occurred or is about to occur. This is especially true if these actions are completely out of character. While there may be a period of impulsiveness immediately following treatment (the person has been through a lot, after all), any subsequent rash decisions are usually connected with relapse. If you happen to notice that your loved one has become much more impulsive recently, talk to them and try to see what is going on before you start inquiring about Cigna rehab coverage. It may so happen that other issues bring about their impulsiveness.

person yelling at another person
Increased anger and impulsiveness can be a sign of relapse.

Significant attitude changes

Another thing that you might find normal is that your loved one changed their attitude after their treatment. After all, they no longer use substances that might have influenced them. What you need to pay attention to, however, is when those attitude changes occur. It is quite normal that a person becomes slightly different after rehab, but rehab does not change a person’s character. If your loved one starts changing their attitude without any apparent reason, they might be relapsing.

What to do if you spot signs of relapse?

Wishing to help your loved one with their recovery and actually helping them are two different “beasts”. The best thing you can do is simply talk to them and see what is going on. Do not force them to talk if they feel uncomfortable, but let them know that you are there for them. The worst thing you can do is to try and force them to open up. In fact, doing so will usually have a detrimental effect. That being said, you can’t exactly allow things to continue going as they are if you are suspecting that your loved one has relapsed. In other words, give your loved one some space but be firm about wanting to talk about their potential issues.

Avoid judgmental behavior

While talking to your loved one, you will want to avoid any judgmental behavior. This can be extremely difficult, however, and you might need to learn how to be less judgmental before doing so. You may not even realize that your body language is judging, or that the tone of your voice may be interpreted as such. Try to keep your emotions in check, as well. If you start to yell or get angry, that is not helping anyone.

a judgmental person
Try to avoid appearing judgmental, if you can.

Relapse is not a failure

If you do establish that your loved one has relapsed, do not worry. As we mentioned previously, most people in recovery relapse at some point. What you can do, instead, is discuss the possibility of further treatment. Your loved one may benefit from a slightly changed treatment plan, or they might need another plan. Consider the relapse as an opportunity to figure out what went wrong and what can be done better.

Lastly, it may happen that you’ve misinterpreted some signs of relapse you may not be aware of. If that happens, feel free to apologize to your loved one and explain that you are inquiring about these things because you have their best interests in mind. The most important thing is that you do not close any lines of communication. Your loved one needs your support, after all, and you need to do everything in your power to provide that support to them.

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