Warning Signs that Indicate Your Loved One May Be On the Verge of Relapse
When that day finally comes when your spouse, child, parent, grandparent, or close friend agrees to seek help for their substance abuse problem, it can feel as if the weight of the world has been lifted off of your shoulders. Dealing with a loved one who has an addiction requires a lot of hard work and perspiration, and when you are trying to do it without the assistance of professionals, the whole situation can at times seem completely hopeless.
But before you relax, and assume that the worst is behind you, there are some disturbing statistics you should be aware of. While it can be hard to get a precisely accurate figure, relapse rates for recovering substance abusers generally range from 50-90%, depending on the type of drug that a person has been using. Fortunately, many addicts are able to recover from these episodes, and they are able to get back on the path to sobriety again despite their momentary fall from grace. But on the other hand, when some addicts or alcoholics have relapses their lives will soon spin completely out of control, and their substance abuse problems can actually become worse than they were before they entered recovery
Because of how uncertain the end result of relapse can be, it is absolutely incumbent upon those who care about a recovering addict or alcoholic to be diligent and observant. If you are close to someone who is making a legitimate and valiant attempt to put their years of substance abuse behind them, you must be on constant alert, looking for any signs that might indicate your friend or family member is in danger of slipping back into their old habits.
Four Possible Signs of Impending Relapse
While counselors and self-help groups will do everything they can to teach recovering substance abusers how to recognize in their own behaviors any indication that their sobriety might be at risk, this in itself will not be enough to protect addicts and alcoholics from relapse. The self-reflective ability that each of us possesses has its limits, and even the most self-aware addict may not always realize when they are headed for a fall. Consequently, family members and close friends of recovering addicts need to monitor them carefully at all times, and in particular they should be watching for the following signs that could indicate trouble is just around the corner:
Mood swings: People recovering from substance abuse problems are always going to have their ups and downs. But having ups and downs shouldn’t become a regular way of life, and if your loved one seems to be on a constant emotional rollercoaster their ability to maintain their sobriety may be badly compromised.
Avoidance of friends and family: If recovering addicts or alcoholics are suddenly making excuses as to why they can’t see or spend time with the people who are supporting them in their efforts to stay clean, this could be an indicator of trouble. Of course, in this situation a relapse may already have occurred, but in any case avoidance is a worrisome sign.
Silence replaces discussion: When the recovery process first starts, addicts are usually willing to be quite open with everyone about what they are thinking and feeling. This is in part because their therapists are likely advising them to share, and in part because it feels good to get things out that may have been bottled up inside for a very long time. But if recovering addicts suddenly begin to withdraw, and are no longer demonstrating a willingness to talk about themselves and their lives, this most certainly could be a clue that relapse is imminent. Hiding things or keeping secrets is never a good sign in someone with a history of substance abuse.
Denial and rationalization: Denial is the number one indication that recovery is on the verge of going off-track. Suddenly denying that a problem really ever existed, or claiming that it wasn’t as bad as everyone thought, undeniably means that an addict or alcoholic is in the process of undermining his or her own sobriety. The stark reality of substance abuse must be faced directly and without rationalization, and if this does not happen addiction will ultimately win the battle for the soul of the addict every single time.