Skip to main content

Warning Signs of an Alcohol or Drug Relapse

By January 31, 2020October 27th, 2022No Comments

It will grow and fester until alcohol or drugs seem to be the only relief. After a relapse, a person’s support system—which might include their therapist, psychiatrist, family, friends, or sponsor—may advise them to enter an addiction treatment program again. This is not a sign of weakness, but a sign that they are ready to stand up again despite having stumbled. It’s not uncommon for people to experience repeated relapses—it can take numerous attempts to remain abstinent for life. When a person doesn’t take the time to acknowledge and address the symptoms from emotional and mental relapse, it doesn’t take long to lead down the path to physical relapse. This includes the act of drinking alcohol or using other drugs.

alcohol relapse symptoms

Relapse is part of recovery regardless of if it happens or not. That is because everyone in recovery should be prepared to enact a plan in the event that they do relapse. A 2013 study from the Clinical Psychological Science Journal revealed that some individuals suffer a relapse due to feelings of embarrassment and shame surrounding their drinking problem. They come to believe that they are inherently bad individuals who can not change the way that they ultimately are. Such emotions flash alarm bells that their odds of suffering from alcohol relapse and re-abuse are rising or already elevated. It’s crucial to understand that relapse is a gradual process that happens over time. For some, the first stages of relapse begin months or weeks before they actually pick up a drink or drug.

Don’t Wait. Get Help Now.

Clinical experience has shown that recovering individuals are often in a rush to skip past these tasks and get on with what they think are the real issues of recovery. Clients need to be reminded that lack of self-care is what got them here and that continued lack of self-care will lead back to relapse. Helping clients avoid high-risk situations is an important goal of therapy. Clinical experience has shown that individuals have a hard time identifying their high-risk situations and believing that they are high-risk.

alcohol relapse symptoms

5) People think that they have a better understanding of drugs and alcohol and, therefore, think they should be able to control a relapse or avoid the negative consequences. A basic fear of recovery is that the individual is not capable of recovery. The belief is that recovery requires some special strength or willpower that the individual does not possess. Past relapses are taken as proof that the individual does not have what it takes to recover . Cognitive therapy helps clients see that recovery is based on coping skills and not willpower.

Benefits of Adopting a Pet for Addiction Recovery

Even when you feel that you are in control of your AUD, Alcoholics’ Anonymous sessions, IOP Treatment, or other group therapy will play a key role in your continued recovery. If you have started to skip sessions or feel that they are now a burden, it could be a sign that a relapse is on the way. If you have lost the ability to make controlled decisions in other aspects of your life, it suggests you are at risk of doing the same with alcohol. So, if you’ve found sabotaged relationships, your career, or fitness plans, it could be a red flag. This is because when you’re tense, Relaxation techniques help reduce tension, irritability, cravings, anger, and anxiety. Deep breathing and meditation are excellent forms of relaxation techniques. BargainingIn bargaining, individuals start to think of scenarios in which it would be acceptable to use.

When you’re in a bad place emotionally, it’s tempting to forget about the pain, loss, heartache, and misery that came with substance abuse. You may daydream about past substance use that you found fun or relieving and alcohol relapse disregard all the memories of bad experiences. Hanging out with old friends – Seeing old drinking friends or going by places where you used to drink is pretty much throwing down the gauntlet at addiction recovery.

Stage Two: Mental Relapse

During this stage of relapse, a return to therapy in which self-care is addressed can be helpful. Understanding oneself and one’s needs—physical, emotional, and psychological—is important if an individual is in this stage. This lack of care for oneself can be emotional, physical, psychological, or all of them. While the specific signs may differ from one person to the other, the overarching theme of the emotional relapse is the lack of self-care in one or all of these areas. A ‘slip’ is when an individual who has stopped using alcohol and/or drugs picks up a drink and takes a sip or takes a small hit of marijuana, etc. A slip usually ends quickly and the individual returns to abstinence quickly afterward. To many on the outside of the recovery community, this may seem minor, however, just this small ‘slip’ can lead to a full relapse down the road and should not be ignored.

People might go through one or more relapses before they succeed. People are at risk of relapse if exposed to different risk factors. Some people without hesitation, a slip means you return to day one. This type of attitude motivates some people to not have slips, and remain committed to their sobriety. Others find resetting the clock disheartening, and actually makes it harder for them to stay sober. Be honest with yourself, but choose the approach that best serves your sobriety. I have slipped a few times, but I don’t think I’m in relapse.

#5 Co-Occurring Mental Health Disorders

“There are three essential parts of a relapse plan,” Daniel Hochman, MD, a Psychiatrist and Founder of, tells WebMD Connect to Care. “Immediately during a relapse, you’ll see symptoms consistent with intoxication.

  • Vulnerable individuals may be exposed to them, and end up drinking not immediately, but a few days after the exposure,” Negro adds.
  • This causes increasing problems with relationships, jobs, money, mental, and physical health.
  • The cognitive challenge is to indicate that negative feelings are not signs of failure, but a normal part of life and opportunities for growth.
  • If you or a loved one is struggling with alcoholism, WebMD Connect to Care Advisors are standing by to help.
  • As a seasoned editor and writer, she has also worked as a clinical editor for online addictions journals and websites, and ghostwritten for numerous medical and addictions professionals.

This is when it is critical to reach out for help to stop the cycle before the individual falls back into active addiction. Relapsing does not mean they have failed, just that the individual needs to reevaluate their coping methods and behaviors. The earlier the signs of an alcohol relapse are recognized in yourself or someone you love, the sooner you can take action. The sooner you take action, the greater the likelihood of maintaining long-term recovery. Warning signs of alcohol relapse can vary depending on the person. Dry drunk behavior means that even though someone hasn’t relapsed, they start acting very similarly to when they were drinking.

Leave a Reply