For those in recovery from drugs, alcohol or mental illnesses, relapse is a life threatening situation, relapse can also be applied to anyone else who is trying to accomplish any type of change in their life whether it’s overcoming an addiction to substances, food or sex, or those who are trying to break free from self sabotaging character defects. There are common indicators that you might be on the verge of relapse. Knowing what they are and how to protect yourself from them can mean the difference between life and death.
Relapse Red Flags:
Thinking “I got this!” is dangerous because it’s when you think you are “recovered” that you start to relax your efforts. This is generally the first danger sign toward relapse and a huge reason why people relapse in the first place. For addictive behaviors, you will never “have it”, that addiction is just waiting for you to come back and it will pick right back up where it left off. Ask the millions of people who went back to drinking, smoking or overeating to prove it for yourself.
Spending time with people who are actively doing what you are trying to avoid. Whether they are drinking, drugging, overeating or just negative/toxic people, spending time with them can put you at risk for picking back up where you left off, even if those people aren’t actively using around you. You obviously can’t avoid everyone, but you can limit the amount of engagement you have with them and you can reinforce your own recovery system to make sure you keep your eyes on what’s important instead of falling back into using behaviors. In short, if you hang around a barber shop long enough, you’re going to get a haircut.
Getting too tired, too busy, too lazy or too impatient to keep up with your recovery efforts to the point you stop progressing in recovery and start relapsing back into old habits. When you are in recovery, you must take the time to take care of yourself, mentally, spiritually and physically to help promote emotional health, patience, discipline and perseverance to stick with your recovery.
Feeling sorry for yourself for any reason whatsoever. When you give in to self pity you weaken your resistance to whatever addiction you are struggling to overcome and it will beckon to you like a pacifier to a crying infant. You can’t afford that sort of comfort no matter how rough life seems to be getting. If you notice yourself becoming depressed or feeling poorly about your lot in life, reach out and get help and reinforce your recovery efforts. Always remember, you are exactly where you are supposed to be at this time.
Becoming argumentative, frustrated, over reactive (anger issues) or otherwise indulging in unhealthy emotions as a way to indicating you always need to be right. These are sometimes seen as ways of developing an excuse to relapse, especially if you are also blaming others for the way you are acting out in emotionally inebriated ways. This can sometimes be confused for the need for drama.
Speaking of blaming, if you notice yourself starting to blame other people, places or things for the choices you are making in life, that’s a big red flag that relapse is becoming a risk. Keep your attention focused on yourself.
Oh, and speaking of staying focused on yourself, if you notice you are becoming critical and judgmental of others or that you have begun to focus on trying to fix their life or pursuing drama, it could be a insidious ways of avoiding taking action about your own life, another way to risk relapsing. Again, keep the focus on yourself.
Starting to become dishonest with others, rationalizing your own poor behavior or coming up with excuses for avoiding working your own program keeps you from focusing on yourself and what you need to do to maintain your own recovery. Consider this another big risk and double up on your recovery efforts or reach out for help.
Stopping or slowing down on whatever recovery program you are following. If you are in a formal program and stop doing what is suggested you do such as attending meetings, taking a daily inventory, working steps or whatever, when you start slacking on those, you could be headed for trouble. If you have your own program to maintain your recovery efforts and start finding reasons to slip away from it that is a problem too.
When you recognize these relapse risks, you can do what you need to do to focus back on our recovery efforts or reach out for help before your risk of relapse turns into an actual relapse. Stay diligent, have a relapse prevention plan and work it. If you need help creating one contact me. Also, this sort of plan is not just for someone recovering from any type of addiction or harmful behavior, it’s for those whose lives’ have been affected by them as well and you can learn about that at Alcoholism Relapse Prevention Not Just for the Alcoholic.
There is saying “It’s safer to stay in the middle of the bed than at the edge where you might fall off.”