A Better Today

Warning Signs of Relapse

Get help for addiction and find treatment resources.


What are the Warning Signs that My Loved One is Heading for Relapse?


The recovery period after treatment for substance abuse should feel like a period of victory. However, the fear of relapse lurks in the back of the mind of everyone who has been through treatment. No one wants to put in the focus and energy needed to reach recovery and then lose all that positive forward progress by relapsing. Some people in recovery even have nightmares about relapsing.

You may even have these same fears for your loved one. And indeed, for many recovering addicts, relapse can be part of their recovery journey; sometimes it’s even a step that makes them recommit even more strongly to their recovery.

Relapse, if it occurs, is a dangerous moment. You want to be there to provide the appropriate support to your loved one, and that means being aware of the signs that indicate that your loved one is headed for a relapse.


A Better Today Recovery Services is here to help, if you need it. We want you and your loved one to feel confident in the direction you are heading and rebuild what is important again. 

Need more help with Addiction?
Give us a call to speak with a professional.

Being There for Your Loved One: 4 Warning Signs of Relapse


It can be hard to identify when your loved one is heading toward relapse, especially if you did not see the signs of their addiction to begin with. Sometimes a relapse becomes a teaching moment in which your loved one learns more about the triggers or stressors that set them off on a destructive path. For that very reason do people say that relapse can be apart of the journey. At A Better Today Recovery Services, we respect if relapse is a part of their journey, but we know for certain it does not have to be.

Only your loved one can learn to set the healthy boundaries needed to make it through recovery and be comfortable enough with your relationship to tell you when relapse is on the mind. Remember that, while you can support them, it’s not your fault if they relapse, and you shouldn’t blame yourself. You may feel helpless when this situation arises or if you think it is heading that way now. What you can do is talk to them if you spot any of these signs of a pending relapse.

1. Abrupt Changes in Mood

The process of recovery has often been compared to an emotional roller-coaster. Your loved one has to learn whole new attitudes and perspectives on life while also acquiring new life skills. Before these new attitudes and skills become second nature, they are likely to feel uncomfortable with their new self.

That’s why it can be hard to notice the abrupt changes of mood that can indicate a relapse is beginning. Look in particular for signs of irritability, which may indicate that your loved one is trying to hide something.

2. Rejecting their Aftercare Recovery Program

Another sign that your loved one is headed for relapse occurs when they distance themselves from their recovery program. Recovery is a day-by-day process, and everyone needs the kind of support that a recovery program provides. If your loved one stops attending meetings or starts bad-mouthing the program, they are probably setting themselves up with justifications for leaving the program.

Each person has to choose and follow a recovery program for themselves. But when they start backing away from it, it’s never a good sign.

3. Isolation & Depression

The process of recovery involves reconnecting with the outside world in new and healthy ways. If you sense that your loved one is starting draw inward into isolation, cutting off those who care about them, you’re seeing a serious warning sign of relapse.

The isolation may manifest as staring at a screen for hours–television, a computer, video games–rather than communicating with others. It may take the form of your loved one speaking about not wanting to see anyone or making excuses for staying home and alone. Isolation is a stepping stone on the path to depression, which can exacerbate a recovery, so take steps to reassure your loved one that they’re wanted and accepted, and to include them in social gatherings.

4. Denial and Rationalization

Denial is at the heart of addiction. You probably saw a great deal of denial from your loved one before they entered treatment for their addiction. They probably claimed that their problem wasn’t that bad, that they could handle it. They probably underestimated the amount of drugs they were taking or the effect their addiction was having on their own life and on the people around them.

When denial and rationalization show up during the recovery process, it’s always a sign of pending relapse. The denial associated with addiction is reaching out to pull your loved one back into old, destructive ways.


We Can Help You Find High-Quality Drug and Alcohol Treatment

Finding Value in Substance Abuse Aftercare


The key to successful recovery from substance abuse and addiction is aftercare services. Relapse is a common occurrence among those who fight addictions, with rates as high as 56 percent, even after successful completion of an inpatient or intensive outpatient treatment program.

When people take advantage of aftercare, however, their rates of relapse plummet. An aftercare program expands on the coping skills learned during treatment and provides continued support for the recovering addict.

At A Better Today Recovery Services, we want to help you find aftercare services that work for you. Through one-on-one therapy sessions, group and family therapy, and various 12-step programs, you or your loved one can work through the ongoing process of relapse.

What does successful recovery look like to you and your loved one? Whether it’s staying sober while working at a good job, getting your kids back from Child Protective Services, or returning to school to advance your career, we are ready to walk beside you on your journey, helping you achieve the success you deserve.


One Option for Ensuring Recovery Success: 28-Day Tune Up


Although you might feel nervous about the possibility of you or your loved one relapsing, many treatment centers offer 28-day tuneups. We want to see your loved one succeed all the way through treatment and recovery. The journey into recovery is never an easy one, but we do everything we can to provide all the support required to make it possible.

At many treatment centers, if someone completes a 90-day treatment program, they can often get a 28-day tuneup following treatment. That opens the door for the continuing care that makes recovery a success. Success comes from support needed to address issues such as relapse, triggers, and coping strategies for going forward into their new life. Call us at A Better Today Recovery Services to see how we can help your loved one turn their life around for the better. We can help you find a treatment center that provides excellent aftercare options that often include tuneups following treatment.

Find A Better Way With
A Better Today

  • Confidential
  • 24/7
  • AHCCCS/ Medicaid Rehab Available
  • Most Private Insurance Accepted
Saving Lives Healing Families - badge

Unbiased Sources for All Your Questions


Getting unbiased information that you can trust in is a key step when researching drug and alcohol abuse treatment. To make the right decisions about treatment and living a life in recovery, you must be able to trust the information you are basing your decisions on. We cannot express enough how important impartial resources are for the journey that lies ahead. You need reliable resources that are proven or tested to be effective by the scientific or psychology community.

We take pride in providing up-to-date and relevant information that are factual and backed by years of research. Check out the list below to learn more about where ABTRS got their information for this webpage.


Store.samhsa.gov. (2019). The Next Step Toward a Better Life | SAMHSA Publications. [online] Available at: https://store.samhsa.gov/product/The-Next-Step-Toward-a-Better-Life/SMA14-4474 [Accessed 20 Feb. 2019].

Melemis S. M. (2015). Relapse Prevention and the Five Rules of Recovery. The Yale journal of biology and medicine, 88(3), 325-32.

Bowen, S., Chawla, N., Collins, S. E., Witkiewitz, K., Hsu, S., Grow, J., Clifasefi, S., Garner, M., Douglass, A., Larimer, M. E., … Marlatt, A. (2009). Mindfulness-based relapse prevention for substance use disorders: a pilot efficacy trial. Substance abuse, 30(4), 295-305.

Medically Reviewed Articles & Resources

doctor checks patient for symptoms of alcoholic neuropathy
Susana Spiegel

What is Alcoholic Neuropathy? [Guide]

Reading Time: 6 minutes Alcoholic neuropathy is nerve damage that occurs in someone who drinks alcohol excessively. If you or someone you love has been diagnosed with alcoholic neuropathy,

Read More »