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10 Warning Signs That You Might Be Heading Towards a Relapse


addiction relapseA relapse can strike suddenly, but there are usually warning signs in the days and weeks prior to this event. The problem is that it is easy to miss these warnings of an impending relapse; others may suspect that something is going wrong, but the individual concerned may be oblivious to what is happening.

If you are able to spot signs that your recovery is going off-course, it will mean you can to do something to rectify the situation. Below are ten of the most common signs that you might be heading towards a relapse.

1. Increasing Resentment and Anger

Anger is probably the most dangerous emotion you can experience in recovery because it can prevent you from thinking rationally. It is common for those who relapse to describe a situation where they were so overcome by anger that the next thing they knew they were drinking in a bar. The reality is that this anger would undoubtedly have been mounting over time, but the actual trigger may have been something minor.

If you have been feeling angry or resentful recently, you need to do something to defuse the situation. One possible solution would be to talk to a therapist or to a close friend. The worst thing you could do is bottle this anger up, as it could keep getting worse until you finally explode.

2. Becoming Complacent

Staying sober does not have to be hard, but it does require a constant effort. You need to develop good habits that will support your sobriety; once these positive behaviours become habits, it becomes easy to maintain them. The problem arises when you start taking your life in sobriety for granted. This complacency means that you stop doing the things you need to do to keep you sober and all or your good habits begin to fall away, putting you at higher risk of relapse.

It is vital that staying sober remains your priority in life. As soon as you start taking things for granted, it will mean you have taken your foot off the pedal. Make a point to commit to sobriety every day and develop positive habits that will keep you moving in the right direction.

3. Romancing the Drink or Drug

It is common for individuals who relapse to have been romancing the drink or drug. This means they were fondly reminiscing the days when they seemed to enjoy abusing these substances. This type of daydreaming may seem harmless enough at the time, but it does mean that your resolve is being eroded. It is vital that you clearly remember the reasons why you broke away from addiction and how much pain this behaviour brought into your life. It is particularly important that you do this when you find yourself thinking back to the ‘good days’ of drinking or drug abuse.

4. You Have Become Cynical About Recovery

Cynicism can be a very dangerous mode of thinking in recovery as it means you are actively looking for reasons to be negative. In order for you to be able to build a better future, you need to have faith that this will be a possibility. The problem with cynicism is that it erodes your faith. It means that you begin to question the positive steps you have been taking in your life, and you may become willing to stop taking the right action if the positive results do not come about immediately.

5. Stinking Thinking

Cynicism can be part of a larger set of negative emotions that are often referred to as stinking thinking. This is where you become very pessimistic about the future, beginning to feel disillusioned and disappointed with your life in recovery. Stinking thinking can be a very hard trap to escape because this negativity drains all of your energy. It means that when the temptation to drink or use drugs again arises, you no longer have the strength to fight it. If you have been becoming increasingly negative recently, you need to do something to increase your levels of positivity or otherwise you may be in danger of relapse.

6. Lying or Behaving Dishonestly

Sober living means agreeing to live life on life’s terms. It involves committing to a more honest and ethical way of doing this. Lying and behaving dishonestly is part of the old way of doing things; it is the way you behave when caught up in addiction. This type of unethical behaviour is always an attempt to hide from the reality of life, putting you in real danger of relapse. Behaving dishonestly can also apply to refusing to acknowledge your problems; they say that you are only as sick as your secrets.

7. Isolating

A common behaviour of those about to relapse is they start to isolate. This can involve avoiding people in the recovery community or refusing to discuss issues that are the source of problems. Part of the process of addiction is that individuals isolate from those around them and the fact that they are isolating in recovery could mean they are preparing for a return to the world of addiction.

8. Looking for Excuses to Relapse

Once people begin to feel the pull of addiction, they may begin looking for reasons to justify their relapse. This could involve turning small problems into big issues or deliberately sabotaging their own efforts. Once the person is in this frame of mind, they are focused on finding things to complain about. This attitude can also have the impact of attracting problems into their life.

9.  Joking about Relapse or Addictive Behaviour

Another common behaviour that individuals who are on the verge of relapse engage in is joking about relapse. They may say that they are going to go back to drinking or drug using in a funny way but, in reality, they are just testing the water to see how others are going to react. This person may also begin to threaten relapse when things are not going their way. The person doing this may believe their behaviour is harmless, but it is actually very often a sign of where they are heading.

10.  Spending Time in High Risk Environments

In Alcoholics Anonymous, they warn newcomers that ‘if you spend enough time in a barber shop, you can expect to eventually get your hair cut’. This is referring to the fact that those in recovery who spend their time in bars or around people using drugs are going to be putting their sobriety in jeopardy. This is because if you enter these environments, you are likely to encounter lots of temptation. Others may try to talk you into using again, and it can be very hard to withstand this type of pressure. The other problem with these environments is that it encourages impulsive action; the alcohol or drugs will be on hand, so you will not really have any time to think about things and change your mind.

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