There are many relapse warning signs to keep an eye out for when dealing with an alcoholic or drug addict.
One of the first relapse warning signs is usually a change in attitude about recovery. A person who once enthusiastically attacked their recovery each day may become uninvolved regarding their twelve-step program. As they take a step back they may reenter denial. Even though they are clearly and addict and alcoholic and have had negative consequences from substance abuse throughout their life, they may suddenly believe the lie that they can control and enjoy their using. Instead of staying grounded in the realities of their past they may begin to romanticize their past drug use.
Another thing to keep an eye out for when looking for relapse warning signs is falling back into post-acute withdrawal symptoms.
If the person begins to get stressed out by fairly normal things or starts experiencing anxiety, depression, and sleeplessness it is dangerous. The individual might be tempted to self-medicate with drugs or alcohol and might begin believing that they need substances to get back on track. When on the track to a relapse the individual might begin to isolate. As they draw inward there are less people around to provide healthy support and perspective. Without this support, the individual might begin to believe their delusional thoughts and the idea of drinking might sound better and better.
As the relapse warning signs grow more severe the addict or alcoholic may suffer a social breakdown.
This means that they abandon their whole routine and begin to fully withdraw from society. They stop attending all functions that may offer them support, and begin to believe that there only options are to be miserable, commit suicide, or self-medicate with mind-altering substances. At this point they usually begin to experiment socially with alcohol or less potent drugs. Eventually the drug use will spiral further out of control and in order to get sober again the individual will usually need some form of professional help to be physically separated from their drug of choice.