In Self-care

Putting down a drink or drug is easy but living a free, happy and sober life is a lifelong journey. Maintaining sobriety takes hard work day in and day out. Relapse doesn’t happen overnight. Often times, it is the culmination of small changes in behavior or habits that were practiced heavily early in sobriety. People should be aware they’re headed down a dangerous path before a relapse happens.

Here are five warning signs you may be headed toward a relapse:

You stop going to meetings

Attending meetings and involvement in a 12-step fellowship is critical in most recovering people’s lives. They help us to stay connected, provide support and let us know that we are not alone.

You start acting the way you did when you were using

There are many characteristics and behaviors that are synonymous with active addiction. Some of those behaviors include but are not limited to things like dishonesty, manipulation, stealing, selfishness, isolation, etc. Those behaviors are often normal in active addiction but exhibiting these behaviors in sobriety should send red flags that you’re headed for danger.

You stop calling your sponsor

The job requirement of a sponsor is in its simplest form to take you through the twelve steps. Because we share openly and honestly the good, bad and ugly that has been our lives a sponsor becomes a trusted confidant, a mentor and our go-to person in our lives. When communication stop with this very significant person, if you feel like you have to hide things or don’t want to be honest about your life, you are entering dangerous ground.

You seek out old friends

Avoiding people, places and things is a saying for a reason. When you stop surrounding yourself with people who are positive and start spending time again with negative influences the chances of you slipping back into your old ways is highly probable.

You stop talking to your support network

When we stop communicating with our sober support network we can be sure that we are on our way to making decisions based in selfish motives. Not staying in contact with our ‘people’ is usually the beginning of a dark, lonely path of isolation. None gets better in isolation. Isolation is at the root of the disease.


Recovery is a journey, not a destination. Many times along the journey we make poor choices, we lose focus, we trip. But just because we trip doesn’t mean we fall. Recognizing the warning signs, identifying small changes in patterns and behaviors is critical, but taking action is the key to relapse prevention.

Author: Anne Bambino, Footprints to Recovery – Outreach Specialist

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