Most people know the common warning signs associated with a physical relapse. Hanging out with old friends. Isolating from sober support. Keeping drug paraphernalia on hand. These are all some of the main red flags indicating that someone might return to drug or alcohol use.
However, the recovery journey is tenuous and different for everyone. With that, the relapse process can be subtle, and it's easy to overlook certain emotional or physical symptoms indicating that you're entering unsteady waters.
Disregarding Parts of Self-Care
Self-care is an essential part of addiction recovery, and it's often a missing component within the cycle of drug abuse. Self-care falls on a wide spectrum, but people who practice excellent self-care look after their physical, emotional, financial, and spiritual needs. This isn't a perfect process, but it's a continual work in progress.
You may be struggling with relapse triggers if you're neglecting parts of everyday hygiene, grooming, or emotional self-care. You might be telling yourself this doesn't matter, or, I'm too busy. While this mindset may not automatically cause a relapse to happen, it can certainly represent a slippery slope.
Justifying Old Habits
One of the first signs of a mental relapse is slowly rationalizing behaviors that might be risky or concerning. For example, let's say you've been committed to going to therapy appointments as part of your recovery process. But now you're telling yourself that therapy is a waste of time and you can manage this on your own. Or, you might justify spending time with an old friend (who is still using drugs) because you're telling yourself that you have enough control to not be triggered.
Engaging in White Lies
It's known that deceit goes hand-in-hand with substance abuse. And while you might not be lying about the big things, emotional relapse often starts by becoming more secretive about everything else. For example, you might lie about not receiving an important email from a boss (causing you to miss a deadline). Or you may even lie about how much sober time you have to try to impress a new friend.
Assuming You Don't Need Help or Support
Ongoing recovery, especially in the early stages, tends to be a team effort. You may rely on your sober friends, sponsor, therapist, case manager, or family for additional support during this tender time. This connection is paramount to your mental health, and it can also establish a sense of accountability.
One of the most subtle and concerning relapse warning signs is a withdrawal from this kind of support. You might assume that you just don't need any help. Or you might pretend to accept help, only to resist any of their actual support.
Glamorizing How Things Used to Be
Some people don't glamorize substance abuse, but they miss what it was like when they didn't have responsibility or when they had a coping skill that could seemingly fix every emotional pain. There's grief associated with addiction recovery, and one of the early relapse warning signs of relapse is feeling stuck in the past or perpetually experiencing euphoric recall.
Disregarding the Importance of Relapse Prevention
Substance use disorders are inherently complex, and the recovery process is unique and individualistic to each person. Some people will need more structure (i.e. consistent recovery meetings or medication management). Others may simply need to adhere to a routine each day that focuses on their emotional well-being and mood.
Impulsive behaviors can happen in response to relapsing thoughts. In addition, if you're starting to disregard or avoid the need to follow your relapse prevention plan, you may be moving into a state of relapse.
Apathy or Negative Feelings About Long-Term Recovery
There's no doubt that life can feel daunting in early recovery. You may notice heightened negative emotions at first. Over time, however, these emotions tend to decrease in intensity, and they're often replaced with newfound gratitude, acceptance, and joy.
However, if you're noticing more resentment toward maintaining sobriety or functioning in everyday life, you might be in a state of relapse mode. Keep in mind that this sense of apathy or frustration tends to emerge long before the actual physical relapse occurs.
Maintaining Recovery Strides and Staying Connected With Resurface Group
Addiction relapse can be an important part of the recovery process, but it's important to be aware of your potential triggers and be aware of the high-risk early warning signs indicating that you're struggling. It's equally important to take care of your emotional health at every stage of your recovery.
At Resurface Group, we treat people recovering from drug and alcohol abuse, and we can help you or your loved one mitigate the risk of experiencing a future relapse. Our dynamic program offers the wraparound support, healthy coping skills, and emotional guidance needed to maintain the strides you've made in your substance use recovery.
We offer a variety of one-of-a-kind treatment support options, including Resurface Connect, our adaptable and fully comprehensive virtual IOP program. Our IOP is in-network with most insurance plans. We also offer individualized life-based care for you and your family. Contact us today to learn more about how we can help you.