If your child has struggled with a substance use disorder for which they have completed treatment, maintaining sobriety often remains a challenge. Unfortunately, despite treatment and participation in ongoing therapy and support groups, the potential for relapse is always there. According to data provided by the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) and other similar agencies, as many as sixty percent of people who complete an addiction treatment program will experience at least one incidence of relapse on their journey to sobriety. Knowing and understanding the warning signs of relapse can help parents be better educated on what to look out for if they are concerned about relapse in their children.
How to Tell if Your Child Has Relapsed
Addiction is considered a chronic disease, and like many other chronic illnesses, there is always a possibility of relapse no matter how long someone has been sober. Once relapse occurs, it can be challenging for your child (or anyone else) to get back on the road to recovery. Relapse is not a sudden event but a process. The process of relapse is generally broken down into three stages: emotional, psychological, and physical.
Emotional relapse is generally the first stage of relapse. This stage often occurs before your child even considers using or drinking again. During this stage, you may notice increased negative emotions, including moodiness, anxiety, and anger. You may also see changes in behavior, such as a change in sleeping and eating habits.
These are some of the earliest signs your child may be relapsing or could relapse in the future. It is vital to recognize the signs of emotional relapse as soon as possible as early intervention could potentially prevent actual relapse. The second stage of relapse is mental relapse. During this stage, someone in recovery is frequently torn. Part of them wants to remain in recovery, while another part wants to return to using or drinking.
During the mental phase of relapse, your child will begin to think about using it again. They will also start to consider how to use it without anyone finding out. Once someone reaches this stage, it can be very difficult to stop relapse from happening. The final stage of relapse, physical relapse, involves actually using. Physical relapse occurs when someone who has been sober breaks their sobriety. Unfortunately, using just once can lead to intense and overwhelming cravings to use again. It is not uncommon for someone who struggles with addiction to believe they can use “just once” without it becoming a problem. Addiction never goes away entirely, and even though your child may think they can casually use, it is (almost always) not the case.
What to Do if Your Child Relapses
The best way to overcome relapse is by taking quick action. It is essential for your child to recognize that relapse, while a setback, is not a sign of failure. Each incidence of relapse comes with the possibility of evolving into continued abuse which can result in severe physical and psychological health problems. Identifying and understanding why the relapse occurred can help identify gaps in your child’s relapse prevention plan. Most importantly, it is vital to seek comprehensive addiction treatment to help your child get back on track. During treatment, they will have the opportunity to gain further insight into their triggers and learn more about how to better manage triggering events, people, and situations to prevent another relapse in the future.
If you are concerned your child may have relapsed, or you notice signs that indicate a relapse is possible, don’t wait another day to seek help. Reach out to the admissions team at Relevance Recovery to learn more about how our addiction treatment programs can help your child and your family.