Signs Of Relapse On St. Patrick’s Day
Drug or alcohol relapse is a very common part of addiction recovery. Catching the warning signs early can make treatment easier. This St. Patrick’s Day, loved ones can be on the lookout for the emotional, mental, and physical signs of relapse.
Recovery is never linear, and relapse is a common experience for people recovering from substance abuse.
Traditional drinking holidays like St. Patrick’s Day can be challenging for people in recovery from alcohol or drug abuse.
If you suspect that your loved one has relapsed over the St. Patrick’s Day holiday, read on to learn what signs to look out for and how you can help.
Why A Relapse Might Occur
Relapse can happen for many reasons. And while your loved one may have prepared with holiday relapse prevention strategies, this isn’t always enough.
St. Patrick’s Day can be difficult during recovery due to a range of social pressure and cravings: the idea of “one drink with old friends can’t hurt” could quickly spiral.
Your loved one may also feel tension over stress, anxiety, or remembering a traumatic experience that led them to addiction, making them fall back on old habits.
Or, simply being around large crowds of people who are drinking heavily could be enough to trigger a relapse.
Especially if your loved one is in the early stages of recovery, this is a very vulnerable time for someone overcoming alcohol or drug addiction.
Warning Signs Of Relapse
Relapse typically occurs in three stages: emotional, mental, and physical relapse.
If a loved one is showing the early signs of a relapse, don’t lose hope. The risk of relapse does not mean that recovery is over — it’s an ongoing process.
Supporting your loved one with addiction can make all the difference in their addiction recovery.
Emotional Relapse On St. Patrick’s Day
During an emotional relapse, your loved one may be experiencing a subconscious desire to continue drug or alcohol use.
At this stage, they have not yet consciously considered it, but the desire is under the surface.
A few of the emotional triggers of relapse on St. Patrick’s Day may include:
- coping with large-scale stress: This may include an upheaval to their support system, losing a job, or experiencing illness.
- unwanted emotions: Your loved one may feel an underlying hum of discomfort, dissatisfaction, or depression after witnessing others drinking around them.
On or after St. Patrick’s Day, your loved one might show outward signs of distress:
- Mood swings
- Socializing less and pulling away
- Sudden changes in behavior
However, they may be in denial about the amount of distress they are experiencing.
Though they may verbalize that they were comfortable with being around people drinking or using drugs, the emotional stage of relapse may have begun.
Mental Relapse On St. Patrick’s Day
A mental relapse is best characterized by strong cravings. Your loved one might make a mental plan of how to get drugs or alcohol, and begin to visualize themselves using.
On St. Patrick’s Day, this may be as easy as walking into a bar with a group of old friends associated with their drug or alcohol use and buying a drink.
Physical Relapse On St. Patrick’s Day
In the final stage, the person is no longer just thinking about it: they are actively using alcohol or drugs again.
The following are signs that your loved one has had a physical relapse over St. Patrick’s Day:
- Slurred speech
- Bloodshot eyes
- Worsened motor skills
- Finding drug paraphernalia or empty alcohol bottles
- Skipping meals
- Poor personal hygiene
- Lack of desire to go to therapy, AA meetings, or treatment as usual
- Low motivation
- Changes in sleeping habits
Your loved one may use substances in higher doses, increasing the risk of overdose.
You may also find that they show signs of guilt, shame, remorse, or regret. As a result, they might be dishonest or isolate themselves to avoid being found out.
Next Steps After Relapse
If someone close to you has relapsed over St. Patrick’s Day, it doesn’t mean their recovery is over.
Substance use disorder is like any chronic condition — a flair-up may occur, but treatment is still possible.
Here are ways you can help your loved one after relapse.
Don’t Lead With Guilt
Being disappointed that they have relapsed is completely understandable. But in this moment, your loved one likely does not need more shame or guilt than they are already feeling.
If they came to you seeking help, be a support for them instead of showing anger or disappointment.
Focus on their needs right now, physical and emotional, and remind them that this part of their journey does mean they are a failure or weak.
They are still worthy of care and treatment, and the recovery process isn’t over.
Unfortunately, the hardest time to practice self-care is often when we need it the most.
Encourage them to address their physical needs: get a full night’s rest, eat well, and return to personal hygiene habits.
They should also engage in activities they enjoy, such as hobbies or spending time with friends.
Encourage them to pursue the aspects of their recovery journey that were successful before, and show them that it’s possible to do it again.
Find Treatment For Your Loved One
After a relapse, your loved one will need support. Remind them that they shouldn’t feel shame in returning to these spaces, this is what they’re intended for.
If you have noticed the signs early, you may also find treatment facilities that have a relapse prevention plan.
Encourage your loved one to explore:
- outpatient addiction treatment
- recovery groups, therapy groups, or other forms of recovery support
- individual therapy
- drug or alcohol detox, to ease the symptoms of withdrawal after a relapse
- an inpatient rehab program for more support, if needed
Find Support For Yourself
Supporting a loved one through addiction and relapse is incredibly difficult, and you need support, as well.
Look for a support group for the loved ones of people in addiction recovery. There may be one in your area or online that suits your needs.
Find Help After Relapse Over St. Patrick’s Day
If you suspect a loved one has relapsed over St. Patrick’s Day, reach out to us.
The healthcare providers and behavioral health experts at Spring Hill Recovery Center are available to assist you or your loved one in recovery.
Call our helpline today and get them the support they need.
Written by Spring Hill Editorial Team
©2023 Spring Hill Recovery Center | All Rights Reserved
This page does not provide medical advice.
- Journals of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs — A simple scale of Gorski's warning signs for relapse https://www.jsad.com/doi/10.15288/jsa.2000.61.759
- National Institute of Health | National Institute on Drug Abuse — How effective is drug addiction treatment? https://nida.nih.gov/publications/principles-drug-addiction-treatment-research-based-guide-third-edition/frequently-asked-questions/how-effective-drug-addiction-treatment