Common Relapse Warning Signs Can Help In a Major Way
Relapse rarely happens out of nowhere. Most often, an addict or alcoholic headed for relapse starts to think and act in ways that resemble how they used to think and act before getting sober.
The recovering addict may be aware that they are changing. They might even be planning to pick up. More often though, the thoughts and behaviors that lead to relapse take hold of a recovering addict without that addict having any clear understanding of whatâ€™s going on.
Anyone who is determined to stay sober should be aware of these common relapse warning signs. If they sound familiar, it’s time to go into full relapse prevention mode.
Pulling away from 12-step meetings and not communicating with a sponsor or others in recovery is a common relapse warning sign. The addict will always have “good” reasons for pulling away, like needing to work extra hours or having pressing family obligations. He or she will feel justified in isolating, because these other things seem more important. The truth is that if an addict wants to maintain sobriety, recovery must always come first. When recovery drops to second or third place in an addictâ€™s life, that addict is at risk for relapse.
When confronted by others about unhealthy behaviors such as isolating, the addict can become very defensive. He or she will usually deny that anything is wrong and point to whatever is going on in their lives as justification for their actions. They might even cut off contact with anyone who attempts to confront them.
Stress and the inability to handle it has caused many in recovery to relapse. Coping with stress in healthy ways is something that recovering substance abusers will be learning for the rest of their lives. Taking on too much too soon can stretch an addictâ€™s coping skills to the point where it becomes easier to pick up than to carry on.
Thatâ€™s why those in early recovery are cautioned to postpone major life changes until they have gained a solid foothold in sobriety. Starting a new relationship, switching jobs, leaving a spouse, moving to another city, and other changes, even if positive, can be extremely stressful, especially for those who are early in recovery.
Romancing the Addiction
Recovering substance abusers who find themselves thinking about how much they miss drugs and alcohol and wondering whether their drinking and drugging was really all that bad are setting themselves up for a fall. This kind of thinking often leads to the idea that it would be okay to use again because this time it will be different.
Hooking up With Former Drinking and Drugging Buddies
Reestablishing relationships with drinking and drugging buddies will put any recovering substance abuser on very shaky ground. Sooner or later there will be enough peer pressure or temptation to make drinking and using seem harmless and normal. Once the recovering addict picks up, there is no telling what might happen.
Living clean and sober for any length of time takes a great deal of willingness, practice, and commitment. The easiest way to stay sober is to stay close to others who are also in recovery. Recovery buddies can usually see the common relapse warning signs in each other and can help each other to make healthy choices that will support and maintain an ongoing sobriety.