Warning Signs of Relapse

The F.A.S.T.E.R Relapse Awareness Scale(*) is a helpful tool to assess if you are at risk for relapse. The acronym identifies specific signs in your life that can lead to relapse (R). The sooner you catch yourself, the higher likelihood you have to maintain sobriety. The levels are arranged by severity from minor (dry relapse) to major risk (wet relapse). The farther down you get, the closer you are to relapse. This tool can be used as a daily check-in to keep yourself focused on your recovery.

(F)orgetting Priorities– Start moving away from your Higher Power, a change in what is important in your life, and denial. Signs: secrets, isolation, sarcasm, obsessed with relationships, bored, procrastination, lying, hiding money, and over-confidence

(A)nxiety– Undefined fear, getting energy from emotions. Signs: being fearful, being resentful, perfectionism, judging others, making unrealistic goals, mind reading, over using OTC medications, sleep problems, trouble concentrating

(S)peeding Up– Trying to outrun the anxiety, which usually leads to depression and anger. Signs: super busy, always in a hurry, can’t turn off thoughts, binge eating(usually at night), can’t define your feelings, irritable, mood swings, excessive caffeine intake

(T)icked Off– Getting an adrenaline high from anger. Signs: black and white thinking, feeling alone, blaming, pushing others away, resentments, headaches, people avoid you, defensive, needing to be right, can’t forgive

(E)xhausted– Loss of physical and emotional energy due to being so angry, onset of depression. Signs: sad, confused, pessimistic, hopeless, tired, numb, want to run, missing work, lack of appetite, constant cravings for old coping skills, no goals, go into survival mode

(R)elapse– Returning to the place you swore you’d never go again. Engaging in your addiction, losing all control, and feeling guilt and shame.

*Adapted from A Relapse Prevention Workbook for Addictive/Compulsive Behaviors 3rd Edition by Michael Dye, CADC, NCAC and Patricia Fancher, CACIII, MFCC, Ph.D.


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