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Relapse Warning Signs

If you’re worried about relapse, we’ve got some warning signs for you. Of course, the first step in relapse occurs when you stop working on your recovery. There are a series of steps, and they vary for everybody.

For example, you might start watching too much television. Next, you find yourself overspending and doing other negative behaviors. Then you’ll start to lose contact with the positive people in your life, and it won’t be long until you’re involved with your old, harmful friends again. It’s a cycle you have to watch out for, but it can vary from person to person. Talk about these 24 warning signs with your substance abuse counselor:

  1. Worry About Yourself. Have you lost confidence in your ability to remain sober?
  2. Denial. This is not just denial about using—it means denial about your ability to cope with your everyday problems.
  3. Defensiveness.  You become very defensive about your ability to handle your problems.
  4. Worrying About Others. You talk like you’re worried about others using, but you’re really worried about yourself.
  5. Tunnel Vision. You can’t see the whole picture. You’re living your life in a disconnected fog, really.
  6. Lack of FollowThrough. Your plans begin to fail because you aren’t sticking with what you need to do.
  7. Impulsive Behavior. You overreact to normal, everyday stress.
  8. Compulsive Behavior. You demonstrate rigid and repetitive behaviors.
  9. Demand for Happiness. You give a lot of thoughts about not being happy, but you’ve stopped thinking of positive ways to achieve happiness—it all seems out of reach.
  10. Irritation. You are short-tempered with family, friends, and coworkers, as a way of responding to the stress you’re feeling.
  11. Bad Eating Habits. You begin overeating—or under-eating—not taking care of yourself.
  12. Poor Sleeping Habits. You find it difficult to sleep, or maybe you are sleeping way too much.
  13. Haphazard Schedule. You miss a lot of your daily appointments; your routines become haphazard and you find it difficult to keep to a schedule.
  14. Daydreaming. You spend too much time on wishful thinking instead of managing your business life and family connections.
  15. SelfPity. You are concentrating on feeling sorry for yourself, and you are jealous of what others have.
  16. Thoughts of Drinking. You are considering that maybe you could have just one or two drinks when you go to that party next weekend.
  17. Missing 12 Step Meetings. If you aren’t going to the meetings, you are really close to trouble. You need to go to at least three meetings per week. Don’t forget when you were striving for 90 in 90.
  18. Rejection of Support Network. You don’t return your sponsor’s phone call, or you fight with your spouse about how things are going.
  19. Easily Angered. You go from irritated to angry, from zero to sixty in sixty seconds.
  20. Resentments. You begin to feel unreasonably resentful about the people in your life who get on your nerves—and maybe especially at those who don’t have an addiction diagnosis.
  21. Loneliness, Anger, and Fear. You feel totally overwhelmed by feelings of frustration. It’s like you’re all alone in the world.
  22. Discontinuation of Treatment. You completely stop going to meetings and aftercare.
  23. Controlled Using. You use your substance of choice, with your use curtailed by your schedule, or you use a different substance than your substance of choice.
  24. Loss of Control. You have given up all pretense of sobriety and you are using openly.

Don’t give up hope. If you’ve relapsed, remember that you cannot relapse if you’re not in recovery. The important thing is to immediately stop using, call your sponsor, and resume your recovery. People say that their recovery becomes stronger after a relapse, and they say it because it’s true. If you’re thinking of relapse or experience any of the signs above, contact your substance abuse counselor now.  

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