5 Common Relapse Warning Signs and Symptoms To Heed In Early Recovery

It is vital to understand the signs of life-threatening relapse.


Unfortunately, relapse is a part of recovery, but it doesn’t have to be. Relapse happens when you become complacent in your recovery, start taking recovery for granted, and fail to express gratitude for your journey.


There are common signs and symptoms which can clue you in on the possibility of an oncoming problem. Knowing these signs is vital to avoid relapse.


When you are working with a recovery coach, and residing in sober living home, symptoms of an impending relapse are visible to your coach and peers.


Hold yourself accountable for making the changes suggested by your support. These changes could be the difference between

  • Life or death

  • Losing all that you worked for in early recovery or continuing to restore and rebuild past relationships,  with loved ones, family, and friends.


5 warning signs and symptoms of an impending relapse include:


Common Relapse Warning Sign #1 - Believing you can drink safely.


If you’re telling yourself that using again will be different because you have a better understanding of your addiction, you need to reach out to your recovery coach, mentor, or sponsor.


After a period of abstinence, you might be tempted to “test the waters.” It can be difficult to understand that you will never drink again. Never is a long time, but as you create joy and happiness in your recovery, you will choose not to drink. Once you begin to build stability and structure in a life of recovery temptation can trick you into believing you have changed.


It is common for people in early recovery to testing oneself by having just one drink, use drugs one more night, or just sit in on the poker game. When you first come into your recovery, you might believe you can find a way to control your substance use disorders or gambling addiction.


If you find yourself considering having a drink or a drug, you should reach out to your coach, peer support, sponsor, or loved ones to discuss what you have been thinking and feeling about going out and drinking and drugging one last time.



Common Relapse Warning Sign #2 -  Reflecting on the good times during active use.


Let's face it -  You had some good times drinking and drugging. When in recovery, and you start to tell war stories and reminiscing the good times in addiction, it is vital always to play the whole tape through. In the early days, your relationship to alcohol and other drugs didn't always result in pain or regret. Extended periods of use are what caused you to develop a substance use disorder which often resulted in negative consequences. More adverse outcomes and negative outcomes are what  brought you to need to rebuild your life in recovery. It is important to always remember the whole story and the results of your drinking and drugging.


Common Relapse Warning Sign #3 -  Forgetting the negative outcomes that come along with your addiction.


Forgetting the bad and highlighting the good times with your substance of choice could result in a lapse. Your addiction was not your friend. Just like playing the tape all the way to the end, it is vital to remember how you experienced more bad than good. The times when you felt pain, regret, and doubt, and worry. During early recovery, it can be dangerous to forget all of the negative consequences, the legal issues, arguments, lies, and isolation experienced.



Common Relapse Warning Sign #4 -  Reminiscing about old friends and acquaintances who are still actively using


It would help if you never tried to prove yourself to anyone. Considering going out and seeing old friends who are still actively using is a slippery slope. You should ask yourself, why after all this time in early recovery, are you starting to miss your friends.


Spending time with people who are not working a program for recovery creates temptation. When you are around friends who still use, your conversations are about drugs and recalling old times.  Previously, it was stated, that reminiscing about the old days is dangerous to your recovery.


Face it you no longer have much in common with friends who are using alcohol and drugs. Moreover, you are kidding yourself if you believe that the reason you want to spend some time with these friends is to help ease them onto the road to recovery

Common Relapse Warning Sign #5 -  Becoming complacent in your recovery


The last symptom discussed today is complacency. You should always be proud and motivated to do better, and BE better, each new day. Complacency starts when you find your new routine boring, unexciting, or stagnant. Another sign of complacency is when you start over analyzing meetings, peers, or mentors.


Always take time to reflect on how far you have come in your recovery, your next goals, and the plan you are following. Continue to support your new structure and routine. If you notice yourself complaining or feeling like skipping a day, pick up the phone and talk to your recovery coach, mentor, or sponsor.


If you or a loved one is interested in committing to working with a recovery coach or learning more how a recovery coach can help you achieve your recovery goals contact The Lighthouse Recovery 365 Coaching Program at 203-246-9435.


John Makohen