The drug or alcohol relapse process has certain signs and symptoms that must be
addressed before actual use of drugs and alcohol reoccurs. Relapse prevention is all
about interrupting the process prior to use.
There are certain signs and symptoms that may indicate that a person may be in
'relapse mode' Some or many of the following may occur and are definitely worth
paying attention to.
1. H.A.L.T - H is for hungry, A for angry, L for lonely and T for tired. Often when
people feel snappish or cranky a quick review of those for symptoms may pinpoint a
cause. The danger of not paying attention here is that minor incidents can get blown
way out of proportion if any or all of those four states are not dealt with.
2. Dishonesty - This can cause concern in one of two ways, the first is that if you have
never gotten completely honest about your addiction and recovery in the first place.
The second and more likely scenario is that 'little white lies' of convenience have
started to creep into your life. This can then progress into deceiving yourself about
3. Complacency - Complacency is a really sneaky one because when it occurs, things
are going well. When things go well people tend to slack off and put minimal effort
into recovery. Thoughts like "I wasn't that bad" and "It wasn't alcohol and drugs that
was my problem...it was ________" Those are sure fire signs of the relapse process in
4. Self-Pity - Climbing on the pity pot usually involves either becoming a victim,
"How come everybody can drink except me?". Or, You can adopt a blaming stance..."
If you had my husband/wife you would drink too. If you are a victim or a blamer it is
always someone else's fault, and you are not responsible. If it is not your fault you
don't have to take action because it would make no difference.
5. Frustration - Two very common traits of people in addiction and addiction recovery
are poor impulse control, 'I want what I want, when I want it', and the need for
immediate gratification. This can be childlike in throwing a hissy when things don't
go your way. That can easily escalate to 'I'll show them' and its off to the bar or drug
Identifying drug and alcohol addiction relapse warning signs is not a black and white
issue, there are many potential signs of danger, and they are different for everybody.
Bonus Tip: The key to relapse prevention is to identify and interrupt the process as
quickly as possible. We want to prevent a thought of using to develop to the point
where there is a drink or drug in hand. The best way to do that is to have previously
developed strategies to handle identified relapse warning signs and symptoms.