Symptoms of Relapse (taken from a Hazelden Foundation pamphlet called, “A Look at Relapse”)
Relapse is a process of undoing all the successes in recovery. Regardless of the addictive behavior these are some of the symptoms of relapse.
- EXHAUSTION – Allowing yourself to become overly tired or in poor health. Some Alcoholics are also prone to work addictions – perhaps in a hurry to make up for lost time. Good health and enough rest are important. If you feel well you are more apt to think well. Feel poorly and your thinking is apt to deteriorate. Feel bad enough and you might begin thinking a drink couldn’t make it any worse.
- DISHONESTY – This begins with a pattern of unnecessary little lies and deceits with fellow workers, friends, and family. Then come important lies to yourself. This is called “rationalizing” – making excuses for not doing what you don’t want to do, or for doing what you know you should not do.
- IMPATIENCE – Things are not happening fast enough. Or, others are not doing what they should or what you want them to do.
- ARGUMENTATIVENESS – Arguing small and ridiculous points of view indicates a need to always be right. “Why don’t you be reasonable and agree with me?” Looking for an excuse to drink?
- DEPRESSION – Unreasonable and unaccountable despair may occur in cycles and should be dealt with – talked about.
- FRUSTRATION – At people and also because things may not be going your way. Remember—everything is not going to be just the way you want it to be.
- SELF-PITY – “Why do these things happen to me?” “Why must I be an alcoholic?” Nobody appreciates all I am doing – for them?
- COCKINESS – “I can handle it” the 4 most dangerous words of addiction – no longer fear alcoholism – going into drinking situations to prove to others you have no problem. Do this often enough and it will wear down your defenses.
- COMPLACENCY – “Drinking was the furthest thing from my mind.” Not drinking was no longer a conscious thought, either. It is dangerous to let up on disciplines just because everything is going well. Always to have a little fear is a good thing. More relapses occur when things are going well than otherwise.
- EXPECTING TOO MUCH FROM OTHERS – “I’ve changed; why hasn’t everyone else?” It’s a plus if they do, but it is still your problem if they do not. They may not trust you yet, may still be looking for further proof. You cannot expect others to change their style of life just because you have.
- LETTING UP ON DISCIPLINES – Prayer, meditation, daily inventory, AA attendance. This can stem either from complacency or boredom. You cannot afford to be bored with your program. The cost of relapse is always too great.
- USE OF MOOD-ALTERING CHEMICALS – You may feel the need to ease things with a pill, and your doctor may go along with you. You may never have had a problem with chemicals other than alcohol, but you can easily lose sobriety starting this way – about the most subtle way of having a relapse. Remember you will be cheating! The reverse of this is true for drug-dependent persons who start to drink.
- WANTING TOO MUCH – Do not set goals you cannot reach with normal effort. Do not expect too much. It’s always great when good things you were not expecting happen. You will get what you are entitled to as long as you do your best, but maybe not as soon as you think you should. “Happiness is not having what you want, but wanting what you have.”
- FORGETTING GRATITUDE – You may be looking negatively on your life, concentrating on problems that still are not totally corrected. It is important to remember how “bad it was” and what’s changed.
- “IT CAN’T HAPPEN TO ME” – This is dangerous thinking. Almost anything can happen to you if you get careless. Remember you have a progressive disease, and you will be in worse shape if you relapse.
- OMNIPOTENCE – This is a feeling that results from a combination of many of the above. You now have all the answers for yourself and others. No one can tell you anything. You ignore suggestions or advice from others. Relapse is probably imminent unless drastic change takes place.
Clearly now that you’ve identified the symptoms, now it’s up to you to decide if you are ready to do anything about the relapse. Remember the last part of the process is using, and it will happen. The question is not will it happen, but when will it happen? You can avoid this problem right now!!!!!