Relapse Warning Signals

Celebrate Recovery®

Revised 2004-07-01 Relapse-1

Relapse is a process rather than an event. A group of behaviors, attitudes,

feelings, and thoughts develop first. Then these lead to an action – acting

out the addiction. One may fall into relapse over a period of hours, days,

weeks, and even months. Warning signals to alert you to a possible relapse


o Feeling uneasy, afraid, and anxious about staying clean and sober. This

begins to increase and serenity decreases.

o Ignoring feelings of fear and anxiety and refusing to talk about them with


o Having a low tolerance for frustration.

o Becoming defiant, so that rebelliousness begins to replace what has been

love and acceptance. Anger becomes one’s ruling emotion.

o The “ISM” (I-Self-Me) attitude grows. Self-centered behavior begins to

rule one’s attitudes and feelings.

o Increasing dishonesty, whereby small lies begin to surface and deceptive

thinking again takes over.

o Increased isolation and withdrawal characterized by missing group

meetings and withdrawing from friends, family, and other support.

o Exhibiting a critical, judgmental attitude – a behavior which often is a

process of projection – and the person in recovery feels shame and guilt

for his or her negative behaviors.

o Lack of self-confidence shown by putting down oneself, overwhelming

feeling of failure, a tendency to set up oneself for failure.

o Overconfidence demonstrated by statements such as, “I’ll never do that

again,” or by simply believing that one is the “exception” to all rules

about recovery.

(From the book Conquering Chemical Dependency)

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