Warning signs for relapse are those subtle experiences that let you know you are beginning to feel worse and that you might relapse. For the best sober living and recovery experience it’s important to know yourself well enough to know when you might be a risk for relapse.

If you can identify the behaviors, thoughts, and feelings that you start to have before cravings come on, you might be able to avoid a relapse. Or better, you might be able to avoid not feeling well.

Once you notice those little signs, then you can get support from friends, a therapist, or a sponsor. You can attend more 12-step meetings or spend more time with those you love. Being able to identify early warning signs can help you avoid trouble when those signs show up.

Some warning signs include:

  • -nervousness
  • -forgetfulness
  • -inability to experience pleasure
  • -lack of motivation
  • -slowing down or speeding up
  • -being unkind
  • -avoiding others, isolating
  • -feeling unconnected to your body
  • -being obsessed with something that doesn’t really matter
  • -increased irritability
  • -increase in smoking cigarettes
  • -not keeping your appointments
  • -spending money on unnecessary items
  • -aches and pains
  • -under eating
  • -being too quiet or withdrawn
  • -easily frustrated
  • -feelings of abandonment or rejection
  • -dizziness
  • -muscle cramping
  • -not answering the phone or avoiding contact from others
  • -overeating
  • -feeling worthless or inadequate
  • -compulsive behaviors
  • -impulsivity
  • -emotional avoidance
  • -increased negativity


Other common warning signs include:

Anxiety – When someone is under stress and if he or she does not have the coping skills to manage that stress, it’s easy to start having challenging thoughts and feelings. It’s easy to have a drink as a way to calm the nerves. Some people, for example, are perfectionists with a tendency to be anxious about their work performance. Not being able to manage anxiety can be the trigger that leads to cravings, uncomfortable feelings, and harmful thoughts.

Depression – At times, an individual might feel so uncomfortable with who they are and how are their lives are functioning that it can hurt emotionally, psychologically, and even physically. The dissatisfaction with one’s life, the inability to feel anything, the lack of connection with oneself and others can stimulate the desire to drink.

Risk Taking – Another common warning sign is when people begin to behave in risky ways. They might drive fast, avoid putting on their seatbelt, or begin to avoid physical signs of needing medical attention. Risk taking behavior is sometimes based upon childish thinking. Others engage in risk taking behavior as a means to feel themselves or to have fun. However, this is a sign that someone might be deteriorating. It’s a way of not taking good care of yourself. With risk taking, a relapse might not be far behind.

It’s important to make a list of the warning signs that are unique to you. Not everyone will experience the same signs of worsening health. Once you know what your unique warning signs are, you can use that information to get help, feel supported, and avoid a relapse.

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