Relapse Warning Signs and a Prevention Plan

Jeremiah 6:10
To whom shall I speak, and give warning, that they may hear? behold, their ear is uncircumcised, and they cannot hearken: behold, the word of the LORD is unto them a reproach; they have no delight in it.

Relapse is a very scary word for men and woman in recovery. Relapse is not a condition that only addicts and alcoholics have to deal with. Some people relapse to overeating, gambling, unnecessary spending, inappropriate social behavior and other conditions that can be life threatening.

Relapse does not have to be a part of your recovery. Unfortunately, people do relapse. Some people plan to relapse as soon as they start recovery. Do you know anybody that was sent to drug court and got drunk or stoned the minute they completed the program? One day at a time they might get it but until they do, we can pray that we do not meet them by accident. Yes, that pun was intended. Having said that, let’s get back to helping those who want to stay in recovery.

Living a drug free and alcohol free lifestyle can sometimes feel like trying to keep three giant beach balls under the water at the same time. No matter what you do, it can seem like you do not have control of one or more of them at any time. I like to call the three giant balls, the thinking, feeling and acting trio. Prayer, meditation and being honest with yourself teach how manage relapse warning signs when any one of the trio is out of control.

Relapse usually has warning signs that many people do not notice. Like the problems associated with the addiction, we are usually the last to know we might be headed for a relapse.

If you have enough information about relapse and ways to prevent it, the chances of prevention are better. Relapse can be interrupted and prevented at any time. You do not have to “hit bottom”.

What are some signs and signals that raise a red flag about a possible relapse and what might be a plan of action?

Here are some suggestions and examples of situations that might help to manage relapse warning signs. Remember you can prevent a relapse before drug or alcohol use starts again. You are not alone, there are options and remember God could and would if he were sought.






Prevention Plan

Late for work almost everyday

I am still in control; I just did not get enough sleep. Being
late is not an old addiction habit.

Fear, Anger, self doubt

Avoiding talking about this with significant other,
sponsor or at meeting level.

Talk about stress of working and getting to work on time

Financial responsibility for the family

I might not be able to handle this responsibility


Like a failure because you never were able to do this in
the past

Make a spending plan with the family and stick to it.

You find out you have a medical problem

I can handle this on my own. I do not want the family to
know because I have already caused enough problems.

Confused, denial, self pity

Discount how serious the problem might be.

Understanding how medication, exercise and nutrition are
important tools in recovery.

Taking on a sponsee when you have less than one year or so
in recovery.

I can help someone who is worse off than I am because my
situation is not as bad as theirs.

Important and special

Focus on problems shifts from your own to someone else.

Don’t do it! Talk to your sponsor about why you want to
sponsor someone.

Not willing to accept constructive feedback about anything
and everything.

My way works better and I will not accept anything less
than my own way of handling things

Defiant and grandiose

Do not listen to any advice.

Education about the difference between surrender and

Family problems that you cannot resolve immediately

Things are useless

Fear, anger self doubt

As if they will just go away, on there own or there is a
magic solution

Learn about community support services and how to use

Return of addictive thinking

The only way to not feel distress is to block the feelings


Refuses to discuss situation and denies that there is a

Learn about how addiction affected thoughts feelings and