After Drug or Alcohol Rehab: Four Relapse Warning Signs

Awareness is key to building a healthy, meaningful and fulfilling life after rehab. You need to be alert and aware to spot the early warning signs of relapse into addiction and take whatever action is necessary to maintain your recovery. Watch for what I like to call, “The Big Four Relapse Warning Signs.”

If any one of them sneaks back into your life, take it as a warning to redouble your resolve to stay the course of your recovery.

The Big Four Relapse Warning Signs
  1. Lying. A principal warning sign of relapse is lying to yourself or to others. Remember how you lied when you were a functioning alcoholic: minimizations, distortions of truth, little white lies, boldface lies and denial. Sometimes you even believed your own hype.So, if you are aware you have told your partner a little white lie, recognize it as a slip and take action immediately to correct the situation.
  2. Blaming. When you blame anyone else for anything, remember that by doing so you are making yourself a victim. And if you are a victim, who can blame you for relapsing into drinking or drugging?So recognize you are on the slippery slope to victimhood and relapse if you notice yourself laying blame rather than taking responsibility.
  3. Shame.  For men there is often shame around not being able to make your partner happy. If you find yourself slipping into these feelings of shame, remind yourself that you are to respect, love and care for your wife. Her happiness or unhappiness comes from within her.
  4. Euphoria. You are on top of the world and things couldn’t be better. Euphoria often makes a subtle shift into feeling invulnerable. And if you are invulnerable, you could drink or drug or have an affair without consequences. The euphoria of success has been the downfall of many a politician and business leader.So pay attention; you are a human being and therefore always vulnerable. If you find yourself at the pinnacle of success, remember what Buckminster Fuller said: “If you do a good job the great spirit will give you a bigger job.

It’s up to you to make your life after rehab a magnificent one!

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20 thoughts on “After Drug or Alcohol Rehab: Four Relapse Warning Signs

  1. Four Relapse Warning Signs… While prowling around looking for some good material on relapse warning signs, I discovered my friend Dr Neill Neill was writing on the same topic at about the same time. This proves that great minds think alike. he has some good ideas called Four Rela…

  2. I was trying to figure out why I want to drink soooo bad so I was researching to why people relapse. I have been in recovery from my meth addiction for 2 years now and all long to be “normal.” I want to go out and drink with buddies from work, I want to go out dancing at the club and not have a care in the wworld. So I came accross this page and it has helped. Thanks!

  3. My husband left me after 31 years of marriage. Drank, said it was my fault, started verbally abusing me and shoving me up against the wall. We have 4 children and grand children.

    My husband is a pharmacist and left for a tech. and they have been married now for about 8 years. He moved in with her and married her after a couple of years. This is her 5th marriage. She is also a drinker and loves men. She did not have much money, but he takes her on trips, and put thousands of dollars in her house of which he never did either with me and I paid for his schooling. One of our daughters was sick all of her life with a brain tumor. She died at age 33 (1 1/2 yrs ago). When my husband left home he never came to see her. He said as long as she lived in my house he would not see her. I took care of her for those last 10 years by myself, and cared for her basically her whole life. He did visit her in the hospital and did come to the funeral. At times I wonder how I survived those years with him, but I hope it made me stronger. I did take him to court of which I am blessed, and have been a private investigator for about 8 years now.

    I hate the drinking. I never want any part of it again. Happy to be by myself but miss my daughter tremendously. I wish that her father had not left her completely but she tried to pretend that it did not hurt her. My other children say that he will never be the same. I don’t think he will ever change. He got tremendously mad at me for getting money from court to help support me and our daughter and also for telling him what was found out his lady-friend was doing (you can imagine) while he was seeing her – and he would not believe us so he married her.


  4. Above suggestion is a superior specimen for the entire drug ally under the sun. Narconon Vistabay will abandon the hallucinating perception of all such drug devotees for this birth as a minimum provided their conscious mind is coming along.

  5. I see all of these signs in my ex-boyfriend…he’s been to different rehab programs before and nothing seems to stick. He’s struggled with cocaine and heroin for the last 15 yrs. Dr. Neill definitely has some spot-on observations about relapse warning signs…I just wish he had a definitive cure-all for addicts so my ex could get it together. I’ve done some research on the subject and anchor text seemed to have some really good resources. It’s a non-profit drug and alcohol rehab referral place. If you see some of the relapse signs…maybe send your loved ones to that site. Good Luck all.

  6. Relapse during Drug Addiction Treatment does not mean the end of recovery, it’s merely a stage in the journey that needs to appropriately dealt with. Although relapse can be emotionally difficult on both the recovering addict and the family, relapse should never mean an acceptance of failure; and it simply means that the addict needs to work harder than ever to get back to sobriety, and to integrate what caused the relapse into a new and improved sobriety plan.

  7. I quite agree with Jennifer. Since I wrote the article, I have more or less stopped using the word “relapse.” Instead, I usually say “lapse”, because it has less of a sound of permanency.

  8. Relapse can occur almost without thinking it seems. I work with people who are addicted to substances and have noticed that there is a way to move beyond addiction by using metaphysical principles. I believe the biggest hurdle is for people to realize that they need to take responsiblity for themselves – their choices, their thoughts, their actions. As you mentioned, blame is a warning sign and I couldn’t agree with you more.

  9. My boyfriend has almost every sign in his life but he is not willing to join in any rehab programs. what to do?

  10. Hello Ibogaine,

    A rehab program is a tool, and sometimes not even a good one. What your boyfriend may needs to do is banish alcohol from his life permanently. If he chooses to do that he will find a way to do it. If he doesn’t make that choice, no treatment program will work. If he doesn’t make that choice, save yourself a mountain of grief and leave. Hard as it is, it will be 100 times a painful when you have children and debt and are 10 years older.

  11. My husband is relapsing and in denial, and trying to justify a divorce. He is blaming me and verbally abusive. And he is manipulating his parents. He needs help!

  12. I left my ex 3 months ago because of his ongoing addiction to various drugs. Since then, he has been to a 28 day rehab program(which he left 5 days early because of medical reasons), he attends AA meetings and sees a counselor once a week for ongoing treatment. I had not been in contact with him for a few months, but for the sake of our kids, I gave it a shot and called him two days ago. We both agreed that we need to be friends for the children and we were having a nice chat, until I started catching him in these little white lies about the most mundane things. I guess I’m just wondering if this could be a sign that he has relapsed?

  13. I’ve been sober since December 2010. I didn’t do any of the hard work other people do to quit drinking. I prayed to God and I stopped drinking alcohol.

    I bring up the subject of relapse to torment my friends once in awhile. I tell them I think it is time I have a relapse (or any other stupid thing about starting up that nightmare again).

    So my question is:
    Relapse is a very common part of recovery. Should I worry about this (I do worry) or do I have enough time that the risk, while present, is diminished?

    How would I do a threat or risk assessment to get a better idea? I say I joke with them about it, but I do not want to go back to drinking.

    Is there a certain number of years where the risk of returning is less likely to occur?

    By the way, I don’t know if this helps, but my grandfather quit like this too. He just stopped.

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