How To Identify Signs, Symptoms of Impending Relapse

Demi Lovato
Print icon

The tragic backslide of singer-actress Demi Lovato into addiction may have shocked some of her fans, but comes with less surprise to those familiar with the signs and symptoms of an impending relapse.

According to news reports, she was seen in late-night clubs, was struggling to keep her commitments and had even stopped working with her recovery coach. Her most recent single, “Sober,” includes lyrics apologizing to her parents and fans, singing, “I’m so sorry I’m not sober anymore.”

“A pretty big red flag,” says Dr. J. Craig Allen, medical director of Rushford. “This high-profile relapse highlights the risks for anyone with a substance use disorder, which is a chronic and recurring brain disease where the underlying chances in neurocircuitry impact judgment, impulsivity, memory and the reward systems driving decision-making to overvalue a return to use while minimizing the negative consequences.

“Recovery is an ongoing battle. Though it can get easier over time, it always requires active recovery work and an ever-present vigilance for the signs and symptoms of relapse.”

Relapse is not uncommon. In fact, in the case of opioid use disorder, he says about 90 percent of people will relapse if attempting to reach recovery without medication-assisted treatment (MAT). Even with MAT, nearly 50 percent may still relapse, however those in treatment are identified quicker and can access support and interventions to help them get back on the recovery track. The numbers are roughly the same for other addictive substances, including alcohol.

After effective treatment and establishing a network of sober supports, people may be considered “in recovery,” according to Dr. Allen. The challenge is to stay there. One way to help keep that path clear, he says, is to identify the signs and symptoms of impending relapse, which can include:

  • Experiencing cravings and urges to obtain and use drugs or alcohol.
  • Missing appointments, either skipping them intentionally or “forgetting.”
  • Engaging in substance use-related behaviors such as keeping company with the wrong people, venturing to the wrong places, lying or stealing.
  • Avoiding urine tox screens or having unexpected results, such as positive or negative for substances that are or are not supposed to be present.
  • Failing to fulfill obligations and responsibilities.
  • Veering off from any component of the treatment agreement.

If someone is showing or experiencing these signs, it’s important for them to talk to their clinician or get back into treatment. Other important steps include boosting the sober support network through friends, family, recovery coach or community-based groups like Alcoholics Anonymous, Narcotics Anonymous and others.

Relapse happens to many people seeking sobriety, but Dr. Allen calls it another step in the journey and a lesson in handling setbacks.

To find help with a substance abuse issue, click here.

 


What's New

Wallingford Endoscopy Center Opens

Endoscopy Center Opens in Wallingford

The Wallingford Endoscopy Center, an 8,533- square-foot space dedicated to gastroenterology procedures, has opened in Wallingford. The center, a joint venture between Hartford HealthCare, Connecticut GI and MidState Gastroenterology Specialists, offers upper endoscopies and colonoscopies in the new facility. “Patients in need of gastrointestinal procedures will find the best care...


What is Inpatient Rehabilitation?

A new inpatient rehabilitation unit opened at Hartford Hospital recently. It’s a 26-bed unit that specializes in physical, occupational and speech therapy for patients who have suffered a major illness or injury. Dr. Maria Tsarouhas of the Hartford Hospital In-Patient Rehabilitation Unit has details on what that means.  Q: This unit opened...

Apple Watch and AFib

Why Heart Patients Shouldn’t Use Apple Watch to Detect AFib

Seems that the Apple smartwatch can do it all – check email, send an SOS, connect to your car, get directions, open your garage door and order a pizza — but checking your heartbeat for atrial fibrillation might not make sense. Dr. Steven Zweibel, director of electrophysiology at the Hartford...


Hartford HealthCare Increases Minimum Hourly Rate to $15

More than 2,400 employees to benefit from increase, effective March 31 Hartford HealthCare today (Monday, 1/14) announced it will increase its minimum hourly rate to $15, effective March 31, 2019. The new pay rate will directly benefit more than 2,400 of Hartford HealthCare’s approximately 20,000 employees throughout Connecticut. These employees...

GoHealth interior.

Hartford HealthCare-GoHealth Urgent Care Center Opens in Torrington

Newly constructed Hartford HealthCare-GoHealth Urgent Care center will replace Charlotte Hungerford Hospital’s former urgent care walk-in center, less than a mile away. GoHealth Urgent Care, one of the country’s largest and fastest-growing urgent care companies, together with its partner Hartford HealthCare, Connecticut’s most comprehensive healthcare network and an affiliate of...


Why Does My Neck Hurt? (It Could Be a Pinched Nerve)

When is neck pain a serious issue? When it’s a pinched nerve, according to Dr. Joel Bauman, chief of neurosurgery at the Connecticut Orthopaedic Institute at MidState Medical Center. Q: What is a pinched nerve? A: A pinched nerve is when there is an injury, usually in the disk, which...

Prostate Cancer Relationships

ED, Incontinence After Prostate Surgery: What Can a Partner Do?

This is the first of a two-part series on the effects of prostate cancer on relationships. Ask any prostate cancer survivor and he’ll tell you there’s no price he wouldn’t pay to be cancer-free. Let’s start with the surest way to cure prostate cancer when the disease hasn’t spread: Removal...