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Identifying Relapse

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Although I have been in the program for five years, I do not deeply understand the concept of relapse. I ask two questions: First, how can I realize that I relapsed? Second, what are the relapse symptoms and signs?

Here are some answers given by abstinent members in a meeting on this topic:

Definition of relapse:

  • Relapse, for me, is a prolonged deviation or differentiation from the rules of my eating plan.
  • Relapse, for me, is a prolonged negotiation over changes in my eating plan concerning quantities, time of eating, the number of meals per day, food choices, etc.
  • Relapse, for me, is a long period of repetitive small slips that become more frequent and more difficult to manage.
  • Relapse, for me, is the opposite of abstinence, defined as “the act of refraining from compulsive eating and compulsive food behaviors while working towards or maintaining a healthy body weight”; and the opposite of recovery, defined as “the removal of the need to engage in compulsive eating behaviors.”
  • Relapse, for me, is a continuous negative use of all OA slogans or Principles: e.g. instead of “Just for today I can eat healthily,” I say to myself, “Just for today, I can eat that trigger food.”

Some relapse symptoms and signs shared in the same meeting:

  • I am not willing to go to my meeting or to use all the other Tools of Recovery to work the Steps.
  • I am angry with others and don’t do my Fourth and Tenth Step work to find my own responsibility and attitudes to change.
  • I don’t want to be completely sincere about my eating to my sponsor.
  • I am afraid to use my scale, or I use it too often.
  • I forget to ask myself, “Which Principle should I use in this situation?”

For an extended presentation on relapse, excellent lists, and suggestions to prevent and recovery from relapse, search “relapse” on oa.org.

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