As someone who was once known as a chronic relapser, and who now works in treatment, I can pretty much spot the signs of a relapse from a mile away. Many of the people in these rooms have gotten sober and can look back on their using days with astonishment when we consider just how delusional we were. That is the tricky thing with drug and alcohol use, it completely separates the truth from the false for us. For many people who are newly recovering, it can be hard to identify the signs of a prelapse, so here are 5 common behaviors and symptoms that can identify an impending relapse.
For us, honesty is one of the only things that can keep us sober sometimes. Whether we are honest with ourselves, our sober supports, and in meetings, we have to be honest about where we are at and what we are doing. As we grow and develop in our program, lying becomes harder for us to do. However, when we become detached from our spirituality and notice ourselves lying, this should raise a red flag.
Now I don’t mean huge, earth shattering lies, but it’s those little white lies that we tell ourselves and others that are the trouble. For example, when we don’t feel like going to a meeting and we tell our friends we don’t feel well. Or, better yet, when we don’t feel like calling our sponsor so we tell them the next day that we were busy. These are the fibs that eventually start to snowball into feelings of guilt and shame for us.
2. Acting out Sexually
This is a huge one, and the most common culprit is with relationships. Let’s be honest, most people would probably admit that they would rather be with someone else than to be alone, it is in our nature to be connected to other people. However, for addicts and alcoholics, we can often use sex and relationships as a means to avoid responsibility in our program. Many of us suffer from co-dependent tendencies, and we would rather focus on someone else than focus on ourselves.
The main issue here is that we are not only hurting ourselves, but we are also hurting the other person, especially if they are also newly recovering. While everyone may differ on the guidelines of what makes sex appropriate and inappropriate, a handy technique to use when trying to decide, is if it passes the four absolutes- i.e, is it loving, honest, unselfish, and pure? If not, chances are it may be an act we may want to stay away from.
3. The Overtaking Ego
This one is a little more tricky to decipher, as each person varies, but the underlying theme remains true. If a person comes to a point that they are confident that they can stay sober without the help of a spiritual practice, whether it be 12 steps or a non-denominational church routine, chances are their ego is feeding them a line.
In my own experience, every time I felt resentful at AA or anyone in it, I would find myself convinced (by no one other than myself) that I didn’t actually have a problem, and that I didn’t need to be in the fellowship. Low and behold, I would be off on a bender again, and eventually, and painfully, I would come crawling back with my tail between my legs. In the end, I can admit that I’m grateful for all of my relapses, as I now have no shadow of a doubt that I am in fact, worthy to consider myself an alcoholic beyond human aid.
4. The Devotion of False Idols
When we get sober, we feel better, we look better, everything just gets better. Some of us can get the itch that we need to make up for all the time we wasted, and it can lead down a slippery slope. Money and power for us are dangerous things. Some of us can become just as addicted to money, shopping, gambling, eating, and regular old “keeping up with the joneses” that we let our programs slip.
I have seen people develop some crazy addictions before a relapse, everything from shoes to starting companies to crazy diet plans and even to strip clubs. We are people who, while we don’t have to live in fear of having fun, we must keep in mind the value of living life in moderation. And no matter what, we must always keep our Higher Power at the forefront of our program. As they say, anything you put before your recovery, you will lose.
It is pretty crazy to think about how much I rely upon the fellowship and my sober supports. During my using days, I would much have preferred to be kept completely alone, with my booze and my drugs and my TV. When I wasn’t on the hunt for my chemicals, I would be on my couch for hours and hours. Today, the value of grateful recovered alcoholics in my life has been my saving grace on so many different occasions.
It is always apparent that someone is in a relapse state of mind when they are isolating from their fellows and the outside world. While yes, sometimes we can all use a relaxing night in with a good book or a movie, the fact of the matter is that we MUST be around other people. Our minds can begin to control us if we don’t have other people to bounce our thoughts off of. If you are anything like me, the longer I am alone, the worse I always feel. However, the moment I get around friends whom I love, I am able to discuss what’s going on, and I always feel better, it is a guaranteed cure.
The fact of the matter is simple, to prevent a relapse, we just have to do the things that we know our good for us. We have to be honest with our supports, we have to surrender control to our Higher Power, we have to forget about the pomp and the flashy side of life, and we have to fellowship. If these are things that prevent us from destroying our lives, why do so many of us stop doing them?
As addicts and alcoholics, it is natural for us to subconsciously place ourselves apart, to let our fear and our ego try to run the show. However, we no longer have the luxury of being selfish people, and this is the greatest gift we will ever be given. To be there for others and to be a part of something bigger than us, where people recover and come back to life is the greatest joy of staying sober in the rooms of a 12 step fellowship.
Seeking Treatment for Alcoholism and Addiction
Getting clean and sober from drugs and alcohol is the most important thing that an addict or alcoholic can do in their life. At Pinnacle Recovery, we understand this and we are here to help you through the anxiety that going to a treatment center for drugs can bring. With help from our professionals, you can find a new life in sobriety with the least amount of resistance possible, and you can learn what it means to achieve a sustained and happy recovery. So call us today at 1-866-301-0573 and begin your journey to recovery the right way, with Pinnacle Recovery.