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How Can I Tell if My Loved One Has Relapsed?

If They Display These Warning Signs, Your Loved One May Have Relapsed

When you have a loved one in recovery, one of your worst nightmares is for them to relapse and begin abusing drugs or alcohol again. Because recovery lasts a lifetime, this is a fear that may never go away. Yet, a relapse is something they obviously wouldn’t want you to know about. As a result, they’re likely to hide it as best as they can. How can you tell when your loved has relapsed?

Photo of friends comforting a distressed loved one.

Here’s a breakdown of three of the biggest signs that your loved one has resumed their addiction: abrupt changes in behavior, missing important events, and asking for money.

Abrupt Behavioral Changes

An obvious sign of a relapse is a sudden sharp shift in how the person acts. Introducing a new mind-altering substance will of course have an effect on their brain chemistry and their personality. A giveaway that a loved one has started using drugs or alcohol again is that they become uncharacteristically irritable and snap at you all the time.

Think back to how they acted before they received treatment, and compare whether they’ve suddenly started acting like that again. Of course, it’s possible they’ve picked up a new substance to abuse rather than returned to the one they original used. In that case, they may have changed in a more unfamiliar way, though some behaviors are consistent across addictions.

Missing Important Events

When someone is in the clutches of drug addiction, they no longer care all that much about other activities and events, and in particular other peoples’ schedules. Everything else is just a distraction from their addiction, which dominates their thoughts and their time.

As a result, your loved one may start missing work, recovery meetings, family dinners, and other important events. Whether it’s because they were out and under the influence, or because they were too hungover to leave home, they’ll suddenly start flaking on things they normally wouldn’t have missed.

Starting to miss recovery group meetings is one of the biggest red flags, because it shows that they’re not committed to their recovery anymore. They also may be avoiding the shame they might feel in a meeting knowing they’ve slipped up. If they start missing meetings, it’s time for a talk.

Unexplained Money Problems

The third big indicator we’ll discuss here is if your loved one has suddenly started experiencing mysterious financial issues.

Drugs and alcohol aren’t cheap. The addiction will also push them to spend on it recklessly, regardless of how much it leaves them for daily life. Combine this with the likelihood of them starting to miss work, and your loved one can easily find themselves abruptly starting to struggle paycheck to paycheck.

This is why it’s a dead giveaway when they suddenly are struggling with money more than makes sense, can’t explain why they have so little, and start asking you to lend them some. If your loved one doesn’t normally ask to borrow money and they abruptly start asking everyone fairly often, without seeming to intend to pay anyone back, it’s a sign they may be sinking that money into an addiction.

They may even start selling or pawning off possessions to further fuel their dependency without alerting you and others. If you live with them and notice objects start to go missing, start to ask questions.

How to Get Them Help

These are just some of the behaviors that may indicate that your loved one has had a relapse. There are others, including romanticizing past periods of addiction, sudden interest in dating, reconnecting with friends from before they received treatment, beginning a pattern of defensiveness and denial, withdrawal symptoms, and more.

If you suspect a relapse, you have to make clear to your loved one that you’re still committed to their recovery. You need to make them understand what you’re feeling and how this is impacting you and your family, while remaining supportive rather than attacking them. Try to understand what they’re feeling as well, and offer to drive them to support meetings and anything else they might need to get back on track.

You have to really commit to recovery, though. Unless you clearly define boundaries and consequences and consistently enforce them, they’ll keep doing what they’re doing.

This is a difficult conversation to have, though. If you’re unsure how to talk to them or what to do, reach out to New Directions Addiction Recovery Services at (779) 220-0336. Our addiction recovery experts are here to guide you through these difficult times and offer our advice and services. Call today, and let’s help your loved one get back on the path to taking their life in new directions.

New Directions Addiction Recovery Services

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