Recovery is an ongoing process. It’s a long road, but things do get easier over time. Unfortunately, relapse is always a possibility for a recovering addict no matter how far out from treatment they are. While the risk for relapse is highest in the first 12 months, certain experiences or traumas can cause a person to relapse much later in their recovery.
If you and your spouse made the decision to get clean and sober, you may have envisioned the same journey for the both of you. However, each journey is unique, and it’s possible that your spouse may be at a higher risk for relapse. Even though we tend to think of relapse as a specific event, it’s more of a process. By recognizing the signs of relapse in your spouse, you can get them help sooner than later.
What are the Three Stages of Relapse?
- Stage 1: Emotional. The emotional stage occurs before the person starts thinking about using drugs and alcohol again. You might notice that your spouse starts thinking or behaving negatively. Anxiety, moodiness and anger are key emotions to watch for, as well as a declining motivation to stay sober.
- Stage 2: Mental. The second stage of relapse is the mental stage, which is when the person is conflicted over whether they should stay sober or use again. The emotional conflict drives their desire to use, though the other half wants to maintain sobriety.
- Stage 3: Physical. The physical stage is when the person breaks their sobriety, using drugs or alcohol again. Sadly, just one time can be enough to start an active addiction or even send someone into overdose or death.
What are the Signs of Relapse to Look for in My Spouse?
Recognizing the warning signs prior to physical relapse can prevent your spouse from returning to drugs and alcohol. Although relapse is not failure, it’s dangerous and can set your loved one back.
Here are the most important signs to watch for in your spouse.
- Romanticizing about using drugs and alcohol
- Viewing drugs and alcohol in a positive light
- Believing they can use again without becoming addicted
- Avoiding their support system
- Isolating themselves from friends and family
- Doubting the recovery process
I'm Worried My Spouse May Relapse.
If you are concerned that your loved one may relapse, reach out for help immediately. There are many intensive outpatient programs that offer additional support and structure. Your spouse may also benefit from working with their sponsor and attending more 12-step meetings.
It’s also possible that your loved one may need extra counseling or a change in medication to treat an underlying mental health disorder. Help comes in many forms, and you can never be too proactive in supporting a healthy and complete recovery.
Drug Help Line helps couples and spouses find addiction treatment services that meet their needs. If you are concerned about your loved one, call us at 800-591-0343 and we’ll help you find a treatment solution. Your call is completely free and confidential.