F.R.E.E.   Family Recovery thru Education & Empowerment



Relapse is defined as returning to a specific behavior after a period of abstinence (stopping) that particular behavior.

Relapse does not come on suddenly and without warning, it is a process over time.

Staying clean/sober is not recovery, working a program is.

Relapse cannot be avoided by shear willpower or self-discipline.

Here is a simple list of relapse symptoms.  Perhaps you might like to print this out and check each one off when your life is not going like you feel it should.  


Lack of personal confidence to remain clean/sober or abstinent


Convincing yourself that you will never ever drink or use again

You start imposing recovery on other people

You become defensive when talking about your problem in recovery

Compulsive behaviors appear, you adopt a non-structured lifestyle

You start over-reacting, impulsive behavior begin to appear

You experience periods of loneliness

You begin to focus on one certain area in your life and you become unwilling to defocus (TUNNEL VISION)

Periods of minor depressions

Loss of constructive planning, attention to details lessens, wishful thinking

Plans begin to fail

Daydreaming and the “if only syndrome” enter your daily routine

Feeling that nothing can be solved

Immature wish to be happy, while not knowing what happiness is

Periods of confusion

Irritation with friends and family

Easily angered

Irregular eating habits

Inability to concentrate, full of anxiety, feeling of being trapped

Progressive loss of daily structure

Periods of deep depression

Irregular attendance at recovery meetings

Developing an “I don’t care” attitude

Open rejection of help

Becoming dissatisfied with life

Feelings of powerlessness and helplessness

Self pity

Thoughts of social drinking/using

Conscious lying

Complete loss of self confidence

Unreasonable resentments

Discontinuing attendance at recovery meetings (“I don’t need them”)

Overwhelming loneliness, frustration, anger and tension

Start controlled drinking and using

Loss of control

                              . . . YOU HAVE NOW RELAPSED                           top       

Relapse is a complicated problem.  It is something that has numerous warning signs and many plans of attack, but without help and a serious commitment on your part, it will win and you will lose.

Avoiding fun, overanalyzing yourself, blaming other people, too much or too little sleep, making a major life change in the first year, are all signs that you are entering an area that may take you somewhere you don’t want to go.


                                         Relapse Weasel Words                                        top

I forgot             I don’t know           Problem!
Maybe More or less  I guess
Kinda Sorta Sometimes
Someway I can’t  I don’t see how
I’ll try As I can It’s too hard
This is BS Who cares  You’re picking on me

Relapse can be avoided.  You will have to be honest, open and willing to deal directly with each symptom as it appears.  Without help it is too much for us.  Recovery is a process that gives us the choice of life or death.  Addiction leaves us no choice but death.

Related Links

The Shield, a relapse prevention card   http://www.angelfire.com/nm/qlcoach

Issues in our lives can also lead to relapse, this site offers different situations that people have dealt with in their lives and remained in recovery.  12-Step Recovery Stories



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This page last edited:  Feb 21, 2005 11:46 AM

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