Getting sober is tough. But oftentimes, getting sober after a relapse can be even more challenging. While relapse is common, a study from the National Institute of Health found that more than 85% of individuals relapse and return to use within the following year of treatment.  For family and friends, the thought of relapse can seem frightening. Though, while these numbers may be alarming, it’s important to note that relapse doesn’t have to be apart of the recovery process.

The best way to prevent relapse from occurring is to learn and create a relapse prevention plan and determine your own relapse process. Addiction is a chronic and progressive disease and if relapse or return to old behaviors occurs and is not treated, the addiction can pick up right where it left off. While relapse doesn’t occur in one singular event, it often happens in a process. This process consists of three stages and the physical relapse and return to substances is typically the last stage in the process. These stages of relapse include:

  • Emotional Relapse
  • Mental Relapse
  • Physical Relapse

During these processes, there are multiple signs and symptoms that can infer one may be headed towards a relapse. Oftentimes, emotional relapse precedes the mental relapse and once the mental relapse has occurred it can be difficult to come back from unless an intervention has been set in place for the person. Ultimately, the best way to prevent relapse is to learn about the signs and symptoms of one. To give you an overview, here are a number of signs and symptoms that may be indicative of someone’s relapse process.


A person can be emotionally and physically isolative. Shutting themselves off from sharing in meetings, groups, or with family and friends can be one of the first telltale signs that a friend  or loved one may be headed towards a relapse. During this time, a person may shut themselves off from the recovery process and start to believe that they can use again without falling back into their addiction.


Stress, or feelings experienced by someone who is under pressure can be one of the biggest triggers for relapse. Without some sort of balance, self-care regimen, outlet to deal with stress, or recovery program, stress can create an unbalanced sobriety and lead someone back to the return of use. High levels of stress can in turn create uncomfortable or unwarranted feelings and lead one back to using substances to create relief from those emotions.

Changes In Behavior

A change in behavior can also be a clear sign of relapse as well. Behavior when one was in their addiction can be a huge warning sign. Some of these behaviors seen can include lying about someone’s whereabouts, failing to follow through with commitments, and avoiding people, places, and things, extreme irritability, and showing disdain for recovery and the entire process can precede a relapse.

Poor Eating and Sleeping Habits

When stress, isolation, and changed behavior set in, priorities change. Poor eating, sleeping, and self-care habits can create consequences such as increased depression, anxiety, and increased risk of heart disease. Conversely, daytime exhaustion can create memory deficits, impaired social and work function, and high stress environments, which can all contribute to relapse.

Romanticizing Using

The patterns of negative thinking that develops when an emotional and mental relapse has occurred can create a mindset of romanticism of one’s substance of choice. Most of the time, these thought patterns can remind someone of the “fun times” that they had while they were using and from there, more negative thinking patterns can stand in the way of recovery. Thoughts such as, “since I relapsed, I might as well keep on using,” or, “I don’t need to go to support groups or therapy, I’m fine.” Oftentimes, this type of thinking then creates denial and negative belief systems about recovery. When this occurs, negative behaviors and physical relapse are soon to follow.

Relapsed? Get Help Now.

After a relapse, the most important thing is that an individual receive help and get back on the path to sobriety as quickly as possible. At Lumiere Healing Centers, each client leaves with a relapse prevention plan identifying signs, symptoms, and triggers that can be associated with a relapse. By implementing certain safeguards, triggers, and the factors that contribute to relapse, recovery for life can be possible. If you or a loved one is struggling. Call Lumiere today, at: 513-901-4738. All calls are confidential. 

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