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8 Signs It’s Time to Return to Rehab

Symptoms of relapse can be quite pronounced, such as actively using drugs or alcohol. Or there might be more of an undercurrent of discontent or excessive stress that creates a domino warning effect. Take this message to heart: if it’s time to return to rehab, don’t consider it a failure. Approximately 40–60 percent of people in recovery will relapse. So take control of your health right away by recognizing the advantages of modified treatment. 

Why Relapse Happens

Many people believe that addiction relapse happens once someone turns to alcohol or drugs again as a coping mechanism. In reality, there are actually three stages of relapse: emotional, mental, and finally, physical. The Yale Journal of Biology and Medicine published a report that defines them this way: 

Emotional relapse

“During emotional relapse, individuals are not thinking about using. They remember their last relapse and they don’t want to repeat it. But their emotions and behaviors are setting them up for relapse down the road,” according to the journal. “Because clients are not consciously thinking about using during this stage, denial is a big part of emotional relapse.” Symptoms include: 

  • Bottling up emotions
  • Isolation from family or friends
  • Behavioral changes or mood swings
  • Not actively participating or attending therapy sessions or support group meetings
  • Not managing mental health problems
  • Poor eating and sleeping habits

Mental relapse

Now, “there is a war going on inside people’s minds,” the report states. “Part of them wants to use, but part of them doesn’t. As individuals go deeper into mental relapse, their cognitive resistance to relapse diminishes and their need for escape increases.” Critical red flags might be: 

  • Cravings or urges to use drugs or alcohol
  • Thinking about people or places associated with past substance use
  • Hanging out with people who use alcohol or drugs
  • Minimizing consequences of drug use
  • Thinking of plans to control drug use
  • Creating scenarios where it would be acceptable to drink or use drugs

Physical relapse

Interestingly, Yale notes, some addiction specialists define physical use into two parts:

  • A “lapse” is “the initial drink or drug use.” 
  • A relapse is “a return to uncontrolled using.” 

However, a lapse isn’t without consequences, even if it only happens once. “Clinical experience has shown that once an individual has had one drink or one drug use, it may quickly lead to a relapse of uncontrolled usage.”

8 Signs It’s Time to Return to Rehab 

Deciding to enter an addiction rehabilitation facility again is a significant and personal choice. But now that you know more about the three stages of relapse, perhaps you have a concern about maintaining your health. Here’s a more in-depth look at what some individuals experience.

  1. Increased cravings. When cravings start to become overwhelming and compromise your ability to resist substance use, seeking professional help is crucial.

  2. Decline in mental health. If you notice heightened anxiety, depression, or other dual diagnosis symptoms that you previously addressed in rehab, it may be an indication that you need additional care.

  3. Strained relationships. Addiction is hard to talk about, so support is critical to long-term sobriety. However, if your relationships with family, friends, or colleagues are becoming difficult, or you feel more lonely than usual, it might be time to seek help.

  4. Lack of coping mechanisms. Cravings, triggers, stress, and other challenges of life require all of us to have an arsenal of healthy coping methods. When their effects start to erode, you might need reinforcement through more counseling or a different approach to therapeutic care.

  5. Recurrent legal or financial issues. Repeated legal troubles or financial difficulties related to addictive behavior may signal a need for more intensive treatment. These problems have a significant impact on your overall well-being and may require professional intervention.

  6. Loss of motivation for recovery. When the emotional and mental phases of relapse start to interfere with your motivation to stay in recovery, attend support meetings, or follow through with aftercare plans, returning to rehab may help you avoid a full-on relapse episode.

  7. Decreased functioning in daily life. If the ability to perform your usual tasks, maintain employment, or meet other responsibilities has notably decreased, this behavior may indicate a need for further treatment to address the underlying issues contributing to these difficulties.

  8. Using substances or engaging in other negative behaviors. Once the physical stage of relapse occurs, it’s a clear sign that your previous treatment needs reinforcement.

Addiction is a chronic health condition that requires lifelong management, and setbacks happen. Returning to rehab is a proactive and positive step toward regaining control and building a stronger foundation for recovery. If you notice any of these clues in your life, consider reaching out to a healthcare professional, counselor, or a treatment center to discuss your situation and explore the best course of action for your individual needs.

Great Oaks’ Relapse Prevention Plan

Healing takes time, and rarely do any of us have a direct path to the final destination of wellness. Fortunately, the board-certified medical professionals at Great Oaks Recovery Center outside of Houston, Texas designed a comprehensive relapse prevention plan that considers all aspects of whole-person care. We also provide detailed continuing care that establishes a path for your sobriety journey but also can be modified to fit changing needs.