4 Signs a Relapse is Looming (And How to Fight Back)

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You’re spending more time alone. Maybe you’re not going to meetings as much, or you’re isolating from friends. You’re losing interest in the things that you used to enjoy. These are all red flags signaling a potential relapse is on the horizon.

Here are some thoughts on how to recognize the signs and stop a relapse in its tracks.

Warning Sign #1 – You’re isolating.

  • Suddenly you’re not calling your sober friends. They ask you out for ice cream and you just don’t have the strength to go.
  • Fight Back: This is a time when you have to bite the bullet and make contact. If leaving the house is too hard, call sober friends. Ask one of them to take you to a support group meeting. Even if you have to leave halfway through, it’s better than staying at home and hiding under the covers. Just reach out.

Warning Sign #2 – You’re losing interest in the things you enjoy.

  • You’ve stopped doing the things that were fun, and you just can’t seem to feel happy.
  • Fight Back: Try doing just one thing that used to make you happy each day. Maybe it’s reading a favorite book, or playing with your pet. Plan just one thing, and do it no matter what. Enlist the help of a sober friend to do something fun, like go to a movie. Start with that one thing, then work up to more.

Warning Sign #3 – You’re losing touch with your spiritual practice.

  • Maybe you pray or attend a church, but you haven’t been getting to worship. If you meditate, you find it’s harder and harder to sit, and maybe you haven’t been able to get to your meditation group.
  • Fight Back: Reach out to someone in your spiritual community who can give you support. That’s what they’re trained to do. (I once asked a pastor friend to come to my house and pray with me.) Pray a little throughout the day. Sit in meditation at home for a few minutes at a time.

Warning Sign #4 – Your exercise and/or eating patterns have changed.

  • If you find yourself eating too little, eating too much, unable to sleep, or unable to get out of bed, it’s a major warning sign.
  • Fight Back: Try to nibble on some crackers. Take a walk around the block. Maybe you’re not up to a five mile run, but get outside a few times during day and do a little walking. Take it slow, reach out for help, and be gentle with yourself.

If you catch the signs of relapse early, you can protect your sobriety!

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