Relapse warning signs in long term recovery

dictionary definition - addiction
Addiction dictionary definition

Relapse warning signs in long term recovery

It is not unheard of, for people who have been sober for a substantial length of time, to relapse and return to drinking or drugging again.

I am in recovery now for more than 15 years and thank God, I’ve never had a physical relapse. I’ve never had a craving or urge to have a drink both in early recovery & to date. I count myself as one of the lucky ones.

Not saying that I haven’t had an emotional or mental relapse, or been on the “slippery slope”. That has happened often, and still occurs to this day.

Relapse in early recovery is very common as is relapsing throughout recovery.

Why do some people relapse and some do not?

That is the million dollar question. If we knew the answer to that, there would be fewer relapses, but relapses are as diverse as the people who relapse. No two people relapse for exactly the same reason.

I can’t speak for others but My desire to drink left me the day I stopped drinking. Now I didn’t just decide to stop, I was so physically ill, that I could not drink anymore and landed in a hospital. Ironically that happened on my birthday. The lie that was my own alcoholic deluded head was blown out of the water. I could not deny being an alcoholic anymore and I think that was the best shock treatment I could have got. What I had to learn to change from that moment forwards was myself, my thoughts, my feelings & my attitudes.

Relapse in early recovery is common and is Becoming more acceptable, as change is not easy and can cause overwhelm and stress. Some people try to deal with it themselves and it can be too much. Motivation to change is also key, as is fear of the unknown in recovery.

A lot of people in early recovery will relapse, once maybe twice, maybe more. Some might not be ready yet and have not hit rock bottom, and continue drinking or using. Over the years I have been working with people in the first 2 years of recovery. After 2 years, despite early relapse and drop off rates, around 60% have got back on track into a recovery/Sobriety, that works for them.


After the initial 2 years

Acceptance of having an addiction at an emotional level is key to ongoing recovery. Most people I have worked with who have come back to treatment or relapse groups after a number of years have said that the number one reason why they went back drinking or using at the end, is that they “wanted to”.

Complacency was the number one offender, and even after a number of years of sobriety, having a good quality of life, getting family members back, going back to education and employment, processing all past consequences, then why on earth would you want to return to the chaos of addiction?.

They felt so good, they started cutting back on small disciplines, routines, behaviors. Thinking began to change, as did behaviors and the relapse process began long before the actual act of drinking or using began.


As complicated as addiction is, so is the relapse process. There are 3 areas that we have to consider that could be triggered, these are:

  • Emotional relapse — Although not conscious about drinking or using, the person feels “odd”, There is an emotional attraction to alcohol/ drugs- feeling euphoric, or even numb rather than having a healthy respect for the dangers of alcohol and drugs in your life. At this stage, old subconscious behaviors can creep in, normally very subtle at first but then do progress.
  • Mental relapse-Consciously thinking about alcohol and drugs, becoming more aware of adverts, alcohol in shops, memories of good times, thinking that as you have been sober for such a long time, you must not have a problem anymore.
  • Physical relapse- The last stage, and the actual physical act of drinking or using.

Warning Signs

  • Complacency — taking your eye off the ball.
  • Feeling invincible — I’m cured.
  • Going into drinking using establishments. (Places)
  • Associating with people, who drink and use, like old acquaintances. (People)
  • Not looking after yourself — Self-care.
  • Association — drinking non-alcoholic drinks, using herbal drugs.
  • Cross Addicting — replacing alcohol/drugs for prescription medication, behaviors.
  • Becoming emotionally detached, not in tune with how you feel or ignoring your inner voice.
  • Relationships issues.
  • Unresolved issues — resentments, traumas, abuse, secrets, guilts & shames.
  • Isolation and becoming reclusive.

For more relapse warning signs or character defects

Never cured

Life is life and people are people and addiction is an addiction. It doesn’t matter how long you are sober for or are in recovery, you are always only ever one step in front of your addicted self. Addiction is not in the bottle, pill or joint, it is in the individual. You are the alcoholic, You are the addict, You are the gambler and You always will be. Learning firstly how to live with this reality and then make the appropriate changes on a daily basis, is how you will increase your chances of not relapsing. Making recovery a consistent part of your life is essential in recovery. The same concept applies to anything in life, once you stop doing it, you start to lose it.

Sum up

There is no right or wrong way to live your life or your recovery. It is best to find out what works for YOU and do more of it, and what doesn’t work, do less. Always be willing to ask for help and be willing to help others. It can be as simple as that or as complicated as you choose to make it.

What do you think?

(I would ❤️ to hear your point of view, so if you would like to respond or even leave a comment on my website, then please do)

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Recovery is about growth and everyone does grow at a different pace. My advice to anyone in early recovery is to wait at least 2 years before making any major life-changing decisions that might have emotional ramifications. An example: get a mortgage, get married, change career, emigrate. In light of this everyone has dreams and we all do want to better our lives in one way or another, so it is important in early recovery to start to put those dreams into reality by creating achievable goals which can be reached in time. I found in my early recovery, although I had dreams, I wasn’t aware of creating goals and my life unfolded by default. It turned out well for me but had I had clear goals, I do feel that it would have been even better.

I do try to learn from my mistakes, and that is why they are little miracles in themselves that happen for a reason. I am a growth-seeking being I will continue to seek change in myself. What motivates me is the Pain – Pleasure, which moves me away from my pain points (a lack of finances, time & peace of mind) to my pleasure points (freedom of finances, time & peace of mind).

The way I have found to achieve this freedom and to move away from the “Groundhog Day” of life is through online marketing. I have taken this step into the abyss, I’m not tech savvy at all, and with the support of Six Figure Mentors-SFM, I am working my way through it. The internet is here to stay and is the future for all of us, so don’t get left behind because it is gaining momentum.

Now Affiliate Marketing might not be for everyone, but my suggestion to you is to just watch the 7-day video series by the co-founders, Stuart & Jay, and decide from there. The video series is free, very interesting and will show you, at least, just what opportunities are available online. I’ll leave you to decide.

I wish you a happy day, Take Care.

Thank You for your attention

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