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Relapse Warning Signs and Prevention: Alcohol and Drug Addiction

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In early recovery, one of the biggest issues is one that is often surrounded by misinformation. A major misconception of addicts or alcoholics relapsing is the belief that exterior things in life can and will cause relapse, such as: having or losing a home; having or losing a job; having or losing money; etc.

Another example is the reaction from others when someone has a relapse.   There are those who then avoid that person, even when they are back in their meetings.  Most of the time people will do this because they fear the relapse rubbing off on them or the relapsed individual influencing them. Both of these examples are not only damaging to our relations with others, but also with quality of life in recovery.

The first question we must ask is, “Are we really placing recovery first?” (or) “Does our recovery depend on other circumstances, people or places?”. The most common way to relapse is to do nothing, making excuses for missing meetings and action towards a 12 step program can lead to stinking thinking. Below you will find some helpful information in working with early recovery addicts and alcoholics and for yourself as you trudge the road to recovery.

Relapse Warning Signs


1.  Irregular and unhealthy eating habits

2.  Irregular and inconsistent sleeping habits

3.  Lack of energy and motivation

4.  Overwhelming craving for a drink or use of a drug

5.  Sweats, shakes and nausea

6.  Hyperactivity and restlessness

7. Frequent pains, including headaches

8.  Rapid heartbeat, anxiety attacks, poor concentration,
confusion, poor coordination


1. Doubting yourself or a lack of confidence in ability to stay sober

2. Denial – “I can just do one.”

3. Extreme thinking and overconfidence – “I will never use again!”

4. Defensive attitude

5. Compulsive behavior

6. Impulsive behavior

7. Living an unbalanced life – tunnel vision – taking on too much (for example, all work and no fun)

8. Depression

9. Daydreaming – wishful thinking

10. An attitude of everything going my way

11. Immature desire to be happy with out working for it

12. Hot tempered – angry

13. Careless – I don’t care attitude

14. Hate – resentments

15. Self- pity – “poor me”

16. Too hard on yourself – no self forgiveness

17. Dissatisfaction with life

18. Feeling of helplessness, powerlessness

19. Dishonesty – lying

20. Loss of or even a lack of self confidence

21. Overly sensitive and easily frustrated

22. Overwhelming feelings of guilt and remorse


1.  Attempts to force or control another person’s sobriety

2.  Going on 12 step calls too soon or alone

3.  Loneliness and isolation

4.  Irritation with friends and family

5.   Open rejection of help

6. Loss of or lack of humility – “I am better than or less than they are.”

7.  The attitude of “I don’t care” and “They do not care”

8. Blaming others or projecting



1. Lack of realistic or constructive planning

2. Poor planning, lack of following through, or lack of attention to details

3. High expectations of others and self

4. Doing nothing because you feel nothing can be solved

5. Taking on too much at once

6. Loss of or lack of daily routine and structure

7. Slacking on meetings or irregular attendance

8. Stopping treatment

9. Believing we are cured

10. Excuses for inappropriate or irresponsible behaviors

11. Ignoring mental health problems


1. Not attending 12 meetings

2. Not meditating any more

4.  Thinking we can recover alone

5. Attitude of better than

Relapse is an outcome.  It is not just an occurrence.  The addict and alcoholic are planning the next relapse by doing nothing.  Recovery is contingent upon the actions we take.  We have to go to any lengths for our recovery; this includes taking part in our recovery by working the 12 steps and applying them to our lives in a daily basis. We can recover and maintain clean time and sobriety if we follow simple directions.

For more information on relapse and relapse prevention, or if you or someone you know has already relapsed, you can chat live with a train addiction specialist now, click here.

-Rebecca B.

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