Relapse Prevention: Relapse Signs and Symptoms

When you make the decision to stay clean and sober, relapse prevention is critical. Addiction, like any other disease, has specific warning signs that can indicate an imminent reoccurrence of the illness.

The disease of addiction can be deadly and thus requires planning and management in order to maintain good health. Relapse prevention involves educating yourself and having a strategy. You must work at recovery, and be proactive to avoid relapse.

Relapse Signs and Symptoms

  1. Experiencing Post Acute Withdrawal: You start having problems with one or more of the following: thinking difficulties, emotional overreaction problems, sleeps disturbances, memory difficulties, becoming accident prone and/or starting to experience serious sensitivity to stress.
  2. Return to Denial: You stop telling others what you’re thinking/feeling and start trying to convince yourself of others that everything is alright, when in fact it is not.
  3. Avoidance and Defensive Behavior: You start avoiding people who will give you honest feedback and/or start becoming irritable and angry with them.
  4. Starting to Crisis Build: You notice that ordinary everyday problems become overwhelming and no matter how hard you try you can’t solve them.
  5. Feeling Immobilized, or Stuck: You start believing that there is nowhere to turn and no way to solve your problems.
  6. Becoming Depressed: You start feeling down-in-the-dumps and have very low energy.
  7. Compulsive and/or Impulsive Behaviors (Loss of Control): You start uncontrollably using one of the following – food, caffeine, nicotine, work, etc.. You may also react without thinking of the consequences of your behavior.
  8. Urges and Cravings (Thinking about Drinking/Using): You begin to think that alcohol or drug use is the only way to feel better. You start thinking about justifications to drink/use and convince yourself that using is the logical thing to do.
  9. Chemical Loss of Control (Drinking/Using): You find yourself drinking/using again to solve your problems. You start to believe that “it’s all over ‘till I hit bottom, so I may as well enjoy this relapse while it’s good,” though your problems continue to worsen.

Taking a daily inventory of your emotional states will help you keep informed of you relapse risk. Remember, even positive emotions can be triggers. You can journal daily using the same 1-5 scale.

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