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Is Your Loved One Using Again? Signs of Relapse to Look For

Is Your Loved One Using Again?

Just because your loved one went to a residential drug rehab and got sober doesn’t mean their journey ends there.

Sobriety is a lifelong battle, drugs cravings are common, and many people may stumble along way. While relapse is a part of the recovery journey for many people, not everyone will get the help they need to get back on track. As a friend, parent, sibling, child, or other relative, if you are able to recognize early addiction relapse symptoms, you could help your loved one get sober again before they fall back into addiction.

Common Signs & Symptoms of Relapse

Sometimes a relapse can be a one-time slip up, while other times relapse could be the first step back to rock bottom. The best way to keep your loved one from falling into the latter category is to be able to recognize the signs of drug addiction relapse early on and do something about it.

Mental Changes

Sometimes even before they use again, recovering addicts will start to experience a shift in their thinking that will eventually lead them to relapse if nothing changes. The increased presence of stressors in their life especially can negatively impact mental health and be a strong relapse trigger. If you pay enough attention to mental changes in your loved one, you may even be able to catch them before a relapse occurs.

Mental changes that may lead to relapse or be a sign that relapse has already occurred include:

  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Irritability
  • Mood swings
  • Idolizing drug use
  • Defensiveness

Behavior Changes

While substance abuse can have a serious physical and mental health impact, drug and alcohol abuse will often lead to changes in behavior as well. In recovery, people are taught to do better and be better. In relapse, this mentality may go out the window. Sudden behavior changes are some of the first signs of relapse in drug addiction.

Behavioral changes that could be a sign of relapse include:

  • Lying and keeping secrets
  • Avoidance
  • No longer following their healthy routine
  • Skipping recovery meetings
  • Going out more
  • Seeing people from their days of being addicted
  • Engaging in risky activities

Physical Changes

Noticeable physical changes are the most dramatic sign of relapse. They could mean that your loved one is using more regularly and may be dependent again. You will likely need to act fast, and your loved one may need to undergo a medical detox in order to get sober once more.

Physical signs of relapse include:

  • Bloodshot eyes and changes in pupil size
  • Sudden weight changes
  • Neglect for physical appearance or normal hygiene
  • Wearing long sleeves to cover up needle marks
  • Reappearance or increase in health problems from substance abuse

What To Do If Your Loved One Is Showing Signs of Relapse

Addict relapse symptoms can vary drastically from person to person, but if you have a gut feeling that your loved one is using again, you are probably correct. Trust your instincts. Calmly approach them about it and explain that you want to help. If they get defensive, they may be embarrassed or ashamed. Make sure you reassure your loved one that you support them and want to help. You could also check with their sponsor for insight. They may need to reenter a rehab center to get the help they need. If they are in denial about their problem, an intervention may also be a good option.

At Banyan Treatment Centers Palm Springs, we help people throughout the addiction recovery process. If you or a loved one needs help, do not wait any longer. Reach out to us today at 888-280-4763.


  1. NIH - Randomized Controlled Trial of Mindfulness Meditation for Generalized Anxiety Disorder: Effects on Anxiety and Stress Reactivity
  2. NIH - Meditation: In Depth
  3. Medical News Today - Brain study shows why mindfulness eases pain
  4. CNBC - Study: Meditating can help you focus and keep your brain young
  5. NCBI - Mindfulness-based treatment of addiction: current state of the field and envisioning the next wave of research
  6. Stanford - More than just relaxing, meditation helps improve self-image of anxiety sufferers
Alyssa, Director of Digital Marketing
Alyssa, Director of Digital Marketing
Alyssa is the National Director of Digital Marketing and is responsible for a multitude of integrated campaigns and events in the behavioral health and addictions field. All articles have been written by Alyssa and medically reviewed by our Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Darrin Mangiacarne.
Is Your Loved One Using Again? Signs of Relapse to Look For
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