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Signs of an Alcohol Relapse
The signs of an alcohol relapse will usually occur long before an individual who is in recovery for an addiction to alcohol actually puts the first drink to their mouth. Although there are many different factors that can lead to an alcohol relapse, the primary factor that leads to this event is when a former alcoholic allows a fleeting thought about drinking to escalate into actual act of drinking. Even the person who has practiced a clean and sober lifestyle for a number of years, can fall prey to an alcohol relapse; this is most likely to occur when a person with years of sobriety under their belt, is in the midst of a major life change, which could include divorce, the death of a loved one, or the loss of employment.
Signs of an alcohol relapse may be easier to spot in individuals who are newly sober. For a former alcoholic who has been sober for just a short amount of time, when nothing is in their path to prevent it, drinking may become an automatic reaction; fortunately, when the person in recovery and the individuals in their support network bond together and learn how to recognize the signs of an alcohol relapse, episodes such as these can often be prevented.
Listed below is a checklist of many of the most common signs of an alcohol relapse:
Being openly impatient-When a person who is in recovery for an addiction to alcohol, exhibiting an attitude of "I want what I want, and I want it right now", this should immediately be recognized as one of the most obvious signs of an alcohol relapse.
Lying -It is important to see dishonesty as one of the major signs of an alcohol relapse; this includes telling little white lies, as even these can have disastrous consequences for a recovering alcoholic and their loved ones.
Constantly feeling sorry for themselves -This is one of the most obvious signs of an alcohol relapse; attitudes such as "How come everybody else can have a drink except me?" should not be ignored, because this is a huge red flag that could potentially lead to disastrous consequences. When an individual begins to openly exhibit an attitude of self-pity, this is often one of the first indications that an alcohol relapse may be imminent.
Becoming overly tired- One of the most common signs of an alcohol relapse occurs when an individual in recovery allows themselves to get to the point of exhaustion; a great number of alcoholic relapses have occurred because a person in recovery has allowed themselves to become overly tired. It is at this point that the former alcoholic will often justify taking the first drink through telling themselves that they are dogged tired and that they "deserve to have a drink and relax."
Becoming overconfident-When a person that is in recovery from an addiction to alcohol believes that they can make frequent visits to bars or hang out regularly with people who drink alcohol daily, these are some of the more obvious signs of an alcohol relapse. What puts these particular signs in a category of their own, is that this behavior can often go on for an extended period of time, without apparent consequences to the recovering addict; but, make no mistake, these types of actions will eventually lead to disastrous consequences for the person in recovery and their loved ones. Many times, the person in that is in recovery for an addiction to alcohol will get cocky and become completely convinced that there is no chance that they could ever fall back into the grips of alcoholism; unfortunately, when a person who is recovering from an alcohol addiction believes this, their need to maintain the healthy habits that coincide with their recovery, will become significantly less important.
Picking fights with loved ones, becoming easily angered - Becoming argumentative is one of the tell-tale signs of an alcohol relapse; when a recovering alcohol wants to pick a fight, many of them will plan this action; picking a fight sets the stage for the individual to be able to storm out of the house and go drinking. When a former alcoholic is looking for a fight, they are quick to become angry and nothing that is said will be too small or insignificant not to be debated to the point of a full-blown argument.
Becoming complacent about their recovery program-When a recovering alcoholic no longer sees the value of going to meetings and staying close to the individuals in their support network, these are obvious signs of an alcohol relapse.
Beginning to expect too much of others-When a person who is recovering from an addiction to alcohol begins to expect others to read their minds or to do things for them that they are more than capable of doing themselves, these are considered to be major signs of an alcohol relapse.
Easing up on healthy behaviors that provide much needed structure-When a person who is recovering from an addiction to alcohol begins to ease up on the healthy behaviors that support their sobriety, such as eating properly, exercising, journaling, and going to meetings, these are definitely signs of an alcohol relapse.
Daydreaming and magical thinking-When a former alcoholic appears to be out of sorts, and has difficulty concentrating, these can be signs of an alcohol relapse; additionally, terms like "if only" will become more and more common during every day conversations, as they begin to apply magical thinking to events that are unlikely to happen.
Plans begin to start failing-Because many people that are newly recovering alcoholics make plans that are not well thought out, or even realistic, their plans will often begin to fail; it is at this point that the individual may begin to feel experience anxiety and depression, which can often be signs of an alcohol relapse.
Expresses fear about their ability to stay sober- A person that is in recovery for an alcohol addiction will sometimes spend an inordinate amount of time entertaining fearful thoughts about their ability to stay sober; unfortunately, consistently entertaining these type of fearful thoughts will cause the person in recovery to began to experience a great deal of stress, which has often been reported to be one of the most common signs of an alcohol relapse
Avoidance Behavior-A person that is in recovery for an alcohol addiction problem will often not want to think about or encounter anything or anyone that causes uncomfortable feelings about their period of alcoholism to surface; unfortunately, these types of protective mechanisms are often just glaring signs of an alcohol relapse. In reality, the former alcoholic is really just being in denial, as they are avoiding the things that will force them to take a honest look at some of their past behavior; it is at this point, that they may become highly defensive when they are questioned about any event that occurred when they drinking.
Spending time focused on others- When a person who is a recovering alcohol begins to check out the "weeds in other people's garden", instead of spending the time "weeding their own gardens", an alcohol relapse could potentially be just around the corner. Taking other people's inventories is often one of the most obvious signs of an alcohol relapse; the reason for this is because becoming overly concerned with other people's problems, leaves little time to be able to focus on one's own recovery.
Exhibiting compulsive ,repetitive behaviors- When a recovering alcoholic becomes fixed or rigid in the way that they think and behave, these are signs of an alcohol relapse; it is at this point, that they may began doing things repetitively and compulsively, for no apparent good reason.
Tendency to want to spend long periods of time alone-When an individual who is recovering from an addiction to alcohol begins to want to make excuses so that they can stay away from other people, this is one of the hallmarks of an impending alcohol relapse. Loved ones should be taught that when a former alcoholic has tendencies towards loneliness, this is one of the most common signs of an alcohol relapse.
Depression-When a former alcoholic exhibits signs of depression that begin to appear and persist, it is important for their love ones to recognize that this condition is one of the most glaring signs of an alcohol relapse; when a person is in the throes of depression, spending long periods of time sleeping is very common, which is a hallmark of this emotional condition.
Exhibiting unusually high levels of frustration -When a person who is in recovery for an alcohol addiction problems starts to snap at their loved ones for no apparent reason just because things may not be going their way, when things do not go according their agenda, this is one of the major signs of an alcohol relapse.
Negative attitude towards life- One of the most common signs of an alcohol relapse is when a former alcoholic makes the decision that participating in recovery is just not as important as it was in the initial stages of their alcohol recovery. They may begin to return to what many 12-step programs commonly refer to as "stinking thinking"; it is as this point that the former alcoholic may began to entertain unhealthy or addictive thoughts. When a person that is in recovery for an alcohol addiction is going through an episode of "stinking thinking", people in their support network will often begin to feel that something is definitely wrong with the person, but they may not be able to pinpoint exactly what it is.
Stress -Predictably, obvious signs of an alcohol relapse can rear their ugly head when an elevated level of stress is present; this increase in stress in the former alcoholic's life could be due to a major change in their present circumstances or because they have allowed a series of little things to build up over time. Returning to the "real world" after being in a residential alcohol treatment center for a long period of time can often present a multitude of stressful situations. The danger signs of an alcohol relapse will often appear when a person in recovery begins to overreact to stressful situations. An individual who is recovering from alcoholism should be especially mindful if they begin to have erratic mood swings and experience highly exaggerated positive or negative feelings, as these are both huge red flags pointing toward a potential relapse.
Exhibiting poor judgment- One of the most noticeable signs of an alcohol relapse is when a person in recovery begins to have difficulty making sound decisions, and when they begin to openly make unhealthy ones. A newly recovered alcoholic will usually experience some difficulty managing their feelings and emotions during the initial stages of their recovery, but consistently making unhealthy choices could be a sign that a drug relapse may be imminent.
Easily becoming overwhelmed- a person that is new to alcoholism recovery may sometimes become overwhelmed for no apparent reason, due to all of the various types of changes that are taking place; this is one of the classic signs of an alcohol relapse. It is important that loved ones do not judge a former alcoholic during these periods of uncertainty; instead, they should be supportive and take the time to acknowledge all of the positive changes that the individual in recovery has made.
Drug Relapse - One of the most serious signs of an alcohol relapse is when a former alcoholic attempts to experiment with a period of controlled, "social drinking"; because the individual will quickly begin to lose control, they will immediately begin to experience overwhelming shame and guilt.
If signs of an alcohol relapse are left unchecked, they will eventually lead right back to a case of full blown alcoholism; this is because most former alcoholics will automatically relate "relief' from life's pain to drinking rather than "going to any lengths", for sobriety. It is for this reason alone, that the initial signs of an alcohol relapse need to be recognized and dealt with immediately.
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