Substance Use Disorder

Substance Use Disorder (SUD) is a complex condition characterized by the compulsive use of substances despite harmful consequences. Relapse, or the return to substance use after an attempt to stop, is a common part of the recovery process for many individuals. Recognizing the early signs of relapse can be crucial for intervening and providing support to prevent a full relapse. Here are some early warning signs:

Emotional Changes: Before a physical relapse occurs, emotional relapse is often the first sign. This might include:

  • Increased feelings of anxiety, anger, or depression.
  • Mood swings and irritability.
  • Feelings of isolation or loneliness.
  • Not managing stress effectively.
  • Not seeking help for emotional distress.

Mental Changes: Mental relapse involves the internal battle between wanting to use and wanting to remain sober. Signs include:

  • Reminiscing about past drug use.
  • Glamorizing past substance use.
  • Thinking about people and places associated with past use.
  • Lying or being secretive.
  • Planning how to use again without getting caught.
  • Bargaining or rationalizing potential substance use.

Behavioral Changes: These are actions that physically move someone closer to substance use. Early signs might be:

  • Reconnecting with old friends who use substances.
  • Visiting places where they used to use substances.
  • Stopping attendance at support group meetings or therapy sessions.
  • Neglecting self-care routines, such as proper nutrition, sleep, and exercise.
  • Withdrawal from family, friends, or activities that supported sobriety.
  • Sudden changes in behavior, such as increased secrecy or defensive about whereabouts.

Physical Signs: In some cases, physical signs might precede actual substance use, such as:

  • Appearing unwell or not taking care of personal hygiene.
  • Changes in sleeping or eating habits.
  • Demonstrating a lack of interest in hobbies or activities once enjoyed.

It’s important to note that these signs can be subtle and may not always lead to a full relapse. However, recognizing and addressing these early signs is crucial for maintaining sobriety. Intervention might include reaching out to a therapist, attending more frequent support group meetings, or engaging in healthier coping mechanisms. The key is for the individual and their support network to remain vigilant and supportive throughout the recovery process.

Creating a form or rating scale to assess the risk of relapse in individuals with Substance Use Disorder (SUD) can help in early identification and prompt intervention. Below is an example of how the mentioned signs and symptoms can be structured into a self-assessment tool. This tool can be used by individuals in recovery or by clinicians as part of a therapeutic process. Note that this is a general guide and should be adapted to fit specific therapeutic contexts or individual needs.

Relapse Risk Assessment Scale

Instructions: Please read each statement below and rate how much it has applied to you in the past week on a scale from 0 to 4, where

  • 0 = Not at all
  • 1 = Rarely
  • 2 = Sometimes
  • 3 = Often
  • 4 = Very Often.
Holistic Treatment of Anxiety and Stress