Symptoms Leading to Relapse

April 3, 2018

While we need to maintain the spiritual disciplines that ensure a victorious life in Christ.  There are ways in which others can help us in our freedom from addiction.  Nearly every person that is close to someone who has had a battle with addiction is able to easily recognize changes in attitude and behaviors that would indicate a return to the old ways of thinking.  Often these individuals and those of our accountability group (Overcomers or Alcoholics Victorious) may have made attempts to warn the individual exhibiting these  “old-life” patterns out of a genuine love and concern for the individual.  Unfortunately, at this point, the individual may not be willing to listen to the concerns of those around him.  He may view these concerns as “nagging” or a “violation of privacy.”  There are many danger signs.

The good news is that some individuals may be willing to go over a checklist of symptoms leading to relapse with a spouse or an accountability partner on a periodic basis.  If some symptoms are recognized and dealt with biblically, the individual will usually try to change his thinking and get “back on track.”  A weekly inventory of symptoms might prevent some relapses.  This added discipline is one that many in recovery are willing to try.  The following list is a compilation of common symptoms that lead an individual into the Danger Zone of a potential relapse. These areas of “Stinkin’ Thinkin’” are applicable to all that have dealt with and have found freedom from addiction.


Exhaustion: Allowing yourself to become too tired or in poor health. Some people have a tendency of becoming workaholics having exchanged one addiction for another. Perhaps intending to make up for lost time. Remember: “Glorify God with your Body” (1Cor. 6:20). Good health and rest are important. If you feel well you are more apt to think well – feel lousy and your thoughts are apt to deteriorate. If you feel bad enough, you might begin to think a drink couldn’t make it any worse. (Practice the HALT method: never be too Hungry, Angry, Lonely or Tired). Jesus, After being in the wilderness for 40 days, was at a humanly weak point when Satan tempted him (Lk. 4:1-14).

Memory Verse: 1 Corinthians 3:16-17. Don’t you know that you yourselves are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit lives in you? If anyone destroys God’s temple, God will destroy him; for God’s temple is sacred, and you are that temple

Dishonesty: This begins with a pattern of unnecessary little lies and deceits with fellow workers, friends, and family. Then come the more important lies to yourself. This is called Rationalizing – making excuses for not doing what you should do, or for doing what you know you shouldn’t do.

Memory Verse: Colossians 3:9-10. Do not lie to each other, since you have taken off your old self with its practices and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge in the image of its Creator.

Impatience: Things are not happening fast enough, or others are not doing what you feel they should do, what you want them to do WHEN you want them to do it. (For Christians, this can also include feeling that God is not answering your prayers, He does, but in HIS TIME, IN HIS WAY!)

Memory Verse: 2 Peter 3:8-9. But do not forget this one thing, dear friends: With the Lord, a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day. The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.

Argumentativeness: Arguing small and ridiculous points of view indicates a need to always be right, feeling others should be reasonable and do things your way, agree with YOUR opinions. This can be another excuse to drink.

Memory Verse: James 4:1-2. What causes fights and quarrels among you? Don’t they come from your desires that battle within you? You want something but don’t get it. You kill and covet, but you cannot have what you want. You quarrel and fight. You do not have because you do not ask God.

Depression: Unreasonable and unaccountable despair may happen in cycles and should be dealt with and talked about with someone. Depending on the drug of choice used, this may be more recurrent in some than in others. Over time, the episodes of depression may become less and less.

Memory Verse: Psalm 43:5. Why are you downcast, O my soul? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him, my Savior and my God.

Frustration: With people, also because things may not be going your way. Remember that everything is not going to come out just the way YOU want it to. (For the Christian, it’s good to remember that “All things work together for good to them that love God and are called according to HIS purpose.” Romans 8:28).

Memory Verse: Isaiah 55:8-9 “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the LORD. “As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.

Self – Pity: Some would call this a Martyr complex. “Why me Lord?” “Nobody loves me . . . nobody appreciates all I do . . . (for them??).

Memory Verse: Colossians 3:23-24. Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving.

Cockiness: “I’ve got it made! I’M HEALED of my addiction!” Not being afraid of it anymore, going into drinking situations to show others you no longer have a problem will erode your defenses. Remember: If you walk into a barbershop often enough, you’ll eventually get your hair cut! 1 Corinthians 10:12 warns us that “ So if you think you are standing firm, be careful that you don’t fall!

Memory Verse: Proverbs 16:18. Pride goes before destruction, a haughty spirit before a fall.

Complacency: “Drinking and drugs are the furthest things from my mind. I don’t even think about them anymore.” It is dangerous to let down your guard just because everything is going well. It’s a good thing to remember where you came from and stay aware of the wicked wiles of the devil. “Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes.” (Ephesians 6:11, see also verses 12-18)

Memory Verse: Proverbs 1:32. For the waywardness of the simple will kill them, and the complacency of fools will destroy them.

Expecting Too Much From Others: “I’ve changed, why hasn’t everyone else?” It’s a plus if they do – but it is still you’re a problem if they don’t. They may not trust you yet. There may be a need for more proof that you HAVE changed. You cannot expect others to change their lifestyle just because you have. Remember: The only person you can change is YOU! You can pray that God will change those around you, then proceed to love them and try to change YOUR attitude towards them, learning to look at them as Christ does, to love, and accept them as HE ACCEPTS YOU (“warts and all”)!

Memory Verse: Hebrews 10:35-36. So do not throw away your confidence; it will be richly rewarded. You need to persevere so that when you have done the will of God, you will receive what he has promised.

Letting up on Self-Disciplines: In your praying, Bible reading, meditation, church attendance, scripture memorization, accountability group. This can stem from complacency or boredom. You cannot afford to be bored. “Idle hands are the devil’s workshop.” The cost of relapse is too great. If your church is not meeting your needs, first investigate if they are legitimate NEEDS. Pray, and talk to your pastor about them. Perhaps you may need to find another church AFTER these steps is taken. But remember no church is perfect because no person is perfect.

Memory Verse: 1 Peter 5:8-9. Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that your brothers throughout the world are undergoing the same kind of sufferings.

Use of Mood-Altering Drugs: There may be a time that you may be prescribed medication by a doctor. Although you may have never had a problem with drugs other than alcohol, you may have a slip in this area. The subtlest way to experience a relapse is this way. Saying you are sober while using drugs, or clean when drinking is only cheating yourself (See #2 dishonesty).

Memory Verse: 1 Peter 4:7. The end of all things is near. Therefore be clear minded and self-controlled so that you can pray.

Wanting Too Much: Don’t set goals you can’t reach with normal effort. Do not expect too much of yourself OR others. It’s always greater when good things happen unexpectedly. You will reach your goals when you do the best you can, even though it may not happen as SOON as you want it to. Happiness is not having what you want, but wanting what you HAVE. Paul said, “I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want.” (Philippians 4:12).

Memory Verse: James 4:2-3. You want something but don’t get it. You kill and covet, but you cannot have what you want. You quarrel and fight. You do not have because you do not ask God. When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures.

Forgetting Gratitude: You may be looking negatively on your life, concentrating on problems that aren’t totally correct. Rather than focusing on problems, focus on how far God has brought you and how much better your life is now.

Memory Verse: 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18. Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.

Terminal Uniqueness: “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.

Memory Verse: Jeremiah 17:9. The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it?

Omnipotence: This is a feeling that results in a combination many of the above-mentioned symptoms. Thinking that you have ALL the answers for yourself and others, no one can tell YOU anything. You ignore suggestions or advice from others. Relapse is probably the last thing on your mind, and imminent unless drastic changes take place. “Let him who thinks he stands to take heed lest he falls.”

Memory Verse: Jeremiah 17:5 This is what the LORD says: “Cursed is the one who trusts in man, who depends on flesh for his strength and whose heart turns away from the LORD.