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Relapse Warning Signs

There are many relapse warning signs that recovering addicts may experience in the early stages of recovery. These warning signs present themselves in recovery and if recognized there are ways to overcome these signs before a full blown relapse occurs. Three of the most common warning signs come from phase 1 and phase 2 which is a result from internal change and denial. These three signs are increased stress, change in thinking, and denying that I’m worried.  Paying attention to these relapse warning signs is extremely important and paramount to the level of success you could hope to achieve.

Relapse Warning Signs - Stress

Stress is inevitable however; recovering addicts respond to stress and create stress differently. An addict’s relapse prevention plan should always include stress triggers and ways to overcome specific stressful situations that are likely to occur. If the addict gets stressed over little things that accumulate over time then the addict should practice ways to alleviate daily stress such as meditation or yoga.

Relapse Warning Signs - Changes in Thinking

When an addict changes their thinking, this is one of the common internal relapse warning signs that a situation could potentially occur. If the relapse prevention plan specifically maps out what the thoughts look like in the person’s head and what to do if those thoughts occur then the addict is likely to recognize this warning sign and bring attention to the change in thinking. There are specific things that an addict can do when this change occurs such as journal writing, more AA or NA meetings, or increased visits with a counselor.

Relapse Warning Signs - Denial

Denial is very common when working with chemical dependency individuals and it is still something that is common during recovery. When a recovering addict is denying that they are worried they are subconsciously doing it. Therefore, daily reflection and journal writing is very important in early stages of recovery. This way, the addict can look back and recognize those feelings as denial and be able to bring it into their consciousness.

There are many more warning signs but these are just three very common ones. Every recovering addict should have a relapse prevention plan in place to be able to refer to it daily in the early stages of recovery. Daily practice is critical for long term sobriety to be successful.  If you feel the oncoming potential for a relapse please reach out to someone you know who can help you through it and do not waste time thinking it over.  You have worked too hard at your sobriety to lose it now at this point.  Yes the journey is hard but that is part of the work you have to do.

Miller, T. T. (1986). Staying Sober. Independence: Herald House Independent Press.

Other symptoms leading to relapse:

* Use of mood altering chemicals
* Argumentativeness
* Depression
* Frustration
* Self-Pity
* Cockiness
* Complacency
* Wanting too much
* Forgetting gratitude
* It can't happen to me
* Omnipotence
* Exhaustion
* Dishonesty
* Impatience
* Expecting too much from others
* Letting up on disciplines