January 10, 2005

Relapse Warning Signs

As I progress in recovery, I am saddened when I hear the words: "I, (He or She) went back out." I feel sorry for the person involved, but such instances also help me to remember what it was like when I was in active addiction. And remembering and staying in constant contact with the memory of the pain is essential to avoid sliding into relapse.

Other signs that you may be headed to a relapse follow:

1. EXHAUSTION - Allowing yourself to become chronically overly tired, often by doing too much or taking on too many tasks.

2. DISHONESTY - This may begin with indulging in a pattern of little lies and deceits with fellow workers, friends, and family. Then come important lies to yourself -- "rationalizing" - making excuses for not doing what you don't want to do, or for doing what you know you should not do.

3. IMPATIENCE - Perceiving that things are not happening fast enough. Others are not doing what they should or what you want them to do.

4. ARGUMENTATIVENESS - Particularly about petty matters, believing that you must always be right.

5. DEPRESSION - Persistent despair.

6. FRUSTRATION - At people and also because things may not be going your way.

7. SELF-PITY - "Poor me, Poor me" often leads to "Pour me a drink"

8. COCKINESS - Believing that you are cured and can handle any situation easily.

9. COMPLACENCY - Becoming blase about the program because you think you don't need it.

10. EXPECTING TOO MUCH TOO FAST "I've changed, why hasn't everyone else?" or "I've changed, why haven't all my problems disappeared?"

11. 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.

12. USE OF OTHER THAN YOUR DRUG OF CHOICE - You may feel the need to ease things with a chemical other than the main one you were addicted to. For example, you may never have had a problem with chemicals other than alcohol, but you can easily set in motion the process of losing sobriety by smoking a joint or popping a pill.

13. NEGATIVE THINKING - By focusing on the negative side of things, you take away one of the primary tools of recovery -- an attitude of gratitude. Positive thinking is powerful, so is negative thinking.

14. "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.

15. 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.

The above checklist of symptoms leading to relapse is based on a Hazelton Foundation pamphlet called, "A Look at Relapse".

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