Relapse Warning Signs


smoke crackSo you finished rehab, you’re on top of the world, and next thing you know something happens – you’re in the middle of a relapse. Often, many addicts will say that; “It just happened!” and although it does happen very fast, that’s the farthest thing from the truth.

We attract into our life exactly what we want, consciously and sub-consciously.

If addicts know only just one thing, it’s when a relapse is near!

For our family members it’s easy to spot. It begins with ‘NO BRAINERS’ like: LYING, SNEAKING, ARGUING, GUILT…

But there are, what I like to call, 10 Warning Signs that the addict needs to be aware of – warning signs that can help the addict correct their course of action before it’s too late.

Note: The following Alert reference is borrowed from the Homeland Security Advisory System – seen below. Translate these risk alerts from terrorist activity to drug or alcohol risk. It’s a simple system and easy reminder that really works. You always want to know what Alert level you are on – your life depends on it.


  1. No after-care plan – If you come out of rehab without an exact map of what you want to do next, put yourself on RED ALERT. Have an exact plan of how you want to spend your days, and what you will be doing. Wake up every morning and read your day planner. The day-planner approach to your after-care plan is the most important step to your full recovery. Ask yourself; what are your intentions for this day, and what is your ultimate purpose and goal for that day alone? Practice this every day, and you will stay on the right road.

  1. Surrounded with ‘users’ – and you didn’t even know it…This warning sign could have easily been placed in the ‘NO-BRAINER’ section shown above but this is such a blatant RED ALERT that it needs to be shown here. Why? Because there are times we slowly begin to repair bridges to friendships that might not be blatant users, but can cause an instant relapse in you based on the fact that the two of you used to go out for a few beers once and a while. You need to always be on your toes, always aware, and always on alert. Who you surround yourself with, even when you may think they are harmless – the exact opposite may be true. Be aware of who you want to associate with. Always be on the lookout, as harmless as that person may seem. It may trigger something in you. The best advice is to stick with role models, and people who without question want to see you stay clean, at all costs.

  1. Too confident – RED ALERT! You just got out of rehab and you’re the king of the world – be on alert. This is when that confidence of yours will bite you in the butt. Keep what you learned fresh in you mind, and focus that confident energy into working your after-care program. Never let those confidences allow you to stop working the program just because you think ‘All is cool!’

  1. Stop talking the talk – Keep the talk fresh in your head. When you’re are in rehab, you are walking the walk and talking the talk. The information is fresh and you are living with a group of like-minded people. If you stop talking the talk, give yourself an ORANGE ALERT. Make sure once you are out, that you surround yourself with people who know the talk, whether it be on the phone, meetings, or just out for coffee. Always keep talking the talk – when good goes in, good comes out. Just hearing the talk from other will help you to always keep talking the talk.

  1. Lack of interest – An ORANGE ALERT is assigned to this warning sign when you’re just out of rehab and slowly you begin to lose interest in activities that were very exciting to you when you returned home from rehab. Pattern changes are a big warning sign, so be aware of your interest level. Do whatever you can to stay interested.

  1. Inactive – Keep the body moving, keep your mind active, and keep busy. You don’t have to be an athlete to move your body and you don’t have to be a genius to keep your mind active. Mind activities that stimulate your body and mind. When you are active, you are clean. When you are focused on activities – this keeps your attention away from drugs. ORANGE ALERT if you begin to become inactive.

  1. Awkward – Define awkward? Very simple – you start acting differently. For some reason, you are not on your game, and for some reason you become awkward. You might start feeling weird, or sick, or disoriented. You usually become awkward when one of the earlier warning signs have already clicked in. Always be aware of your state. Are you awkward or are you on your game? Get the answer, and then ask why? The answer is within you. If you feel off in any way put yourself on YELLOW ALERT.

  1. Focus – Sometimes you will find yourself in a state of ‘no focus’, and then sometimes, believe it or not, you will find yourself in a state of ‘too much focus’. Either one can lead to a drug or alcohol relapse. If you find your mind constantly wondering or your find yourself stuck on a task, and cannot pull your mind from it – both are bad and both receive a YELLOW ALERT. Be aware of your focus levels. Focus your attention back on your program, read over you after-care plan, talk the talk with a friend – anything to change your focus. Being aware of your focus level will help you stick to the plan you created at the start.

  1. Goal Dropping – By the end of rehab you should have realized that many barriers in life are false barriers set up by your mind. Things in life become seemingly
    unachievable, and therefore you find ways to numb the pain from your goals and dreams becoming unachievable. Once you discover that this is a false belief, you begin you create goals that seem achievable once again – and then you get home, and all of a sudden, real-life hits you, and you begin to drop these goals. YELLOW ALERT. Never drop these goals. You many not achieve every goal you set, but always make steps forward, as small as they may be – steps that match you closer and closer to these goals. The closer you get to these goals, the farther away you get from drug and alcohol abuse.

  1. Resistant – This gets BLUE ALERT, but only for one reason, and one reason alone. Undetected, resistance can quite quickly climb up the alert ladder, but in reality this warning sign is easily broken. It’s the most metaphysical of the bunch, but it’s a very important alert. Resistance creeps in when you can feel it in your bones – something is off. You feel that tingle in your chest, stomach or head, you feel slightly nervous or off. Don’t confuse this with being awkward, resistance is an almost 6th sense feeling of being off. You’re energy system is preparing to enter back into past cycles
    and your body is getting nervous. This happens on a very subtle level – be aware of the tingles. Be aware of resistance. It’s when you begin to resist what is right that your entire system goes into shock. You must push through this resistance and continue doing what your after-care plan says, other wise you must bump this alert up the RED.


It is imperative that you always stay on alert, be aware of your alerts, and never fear confronting why you are on a certain alert. Confronting your alert level is how you will stay on track.

The formula for getting back to GREEN is very simple. Focus on what resides in GREEN. Who would you be if you lived in GREEN ALERT? Never focus on staying away from RED ALERT, we all know what resides in RED, just be aware that it exists, and always focus on getting back to GREEN. By focusing on GREEN, it will guide you in the right direction, and give you’re the awareness you need to stay clean.

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