A Checklist of Symptoms Leading to Relapse

1. EXHAUSTION: Exhaustion allows yourself to become overly tired or to develop poor health. Much of this is within our control. Some people in recovery are also prone to work addiction, perhaps they are 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 straight. Feel poorly and your thinking is apt to deteriorate. If you feel badly enough, you might begin to think a drink or a drug “couldn’t make it any worse”.

2. DISHONESTY: Dishonesty begins with a pattern of unnecessary little lies and deceits with fellow workers, friends, and family. Out of this may come significant lies to yourself. This is called rationalizing, making excuses for not doing what you do not want to do, or for doing what you know you should not do. Small deceits sow the seeds for major dishonesty.

3. IMPATIENCE: Impatience involves feeling that things are not happening fast enough, or that others are not doing what they should, or what you want them to do. Impatience involves having a hard time tolerating frustration and delayed gratification.

4. ARGUMENTATIVENESS: Arguing small and ridiculous points of view (“argumentativeness”) indicates a need to always be right. “Why don’t you be reasonable and agree with me?” Are you looking for a reason to take a drink or a drug?

5. DEPRESSION: Unreasonable and unaccountable despair may occur in cycles and should be dealt with and talked about. There are different kinds of depression. Some are part of the recovery process. All need to be talked out. Lingering and severe depression may need to be checked out by a professional familiar both with depression and the recovery process.

6. FRUSTRATION: You may feel frustration with people as well, because things may not be going your way. Remember everything is not going to be just the way you want it. You must develop new coping skills to cope with frustration.

7. SELF-PITY: “ Why do these things happen to me?” “Why must I be an addict?” “Nobody appreciates all that I am doing.”

Self-pity is a breeding ground for negative and low self-esteem.

8. COCKINESS: An attitude of “Boy, I’ve got it made, I no longer fear addiction!” may lead to entering drinking/drugging situations to prove to others you have no problem. Do this often enough and it will wear down your defenses.

9. COMPLACENCY: One may become complacent and have thoughts of “Drinking was the farthest thing from my mind.” Not drinking was no longer a conscious thought either! It is dangerous to let up on discipline because everything is going well. A little fear and constant awareness of one’s thoughts, feelings, and vulnerabilities are good things to develop. More relapses occur when things are going well than otherwise.

10. EXPECTING TOO MUCH FROM OTHERS: “I’ve changed; why hasn’t everyone else” It is a plus if they do, but it is still your problem if they do not. They may not trust you yet. They may still be looking for further proof. You cannot expect others to change their lifestyles just because you have.

11. LETTING UP ON DISCIPLINES: Daily discipline includes prayer, meditation, daily inventory, and AA/NA attendance. Varying from 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 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 other chemicals, but you can easily lose recovery starting this way. Is is about the most subtle way to have a relapse. Remember you will be cheating! The reverse of this is true for drug dependent persons who start to drink. Once addicted to one substance the potential to become quickly addicted to another definitely exists.

13. “IT CAN’T HAPPEN TO ME.” : This is dangerous thinking. Almost anything can happen to you, and is more likely to if you get careless. Remember you have a progressive disease, and you will be in worse shape if you relapse.

14. 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 eminent unless drastic change takes place.

reprinted with permission from the North Carolina PRN CLIENT NEWSLETTER