Common Mistakes Made in Early Recovery That Lead To Relapse

We have witnessed for sure hundreds and maybe thousands of people early in sobriety slip. So what can you do to help prevent a relapse? Here are some of the most common mistakes that lead to a relapse. There are no for sure situations where we would say, “You will relapse if you…”  but we have seen some common trends over the years. It is possible to stay sober through the circumstances below but the chances of sustained sobriety decline drastically.


Probably the most common mistake that will lead to relapse is not allowing yourself enough time.  People think that going to treatment fixes the individual. The truth is that 28 or 30 days of treatment is barely enough time to clear the foggy mind after years of drinking and using drugs, let alone be fully recovered. It takes time to shift from the old ways of doing things into a person that literally sees the world from a different perspective. There are halfway houses and sober living homes for a reason. Take the time to really build a rock solid foundation. If money is the issue, just think how much it’s going to cost you if you go back to drinking or active addiction.


This is one of the number one factors we see in relapse. When you are first getting sober, you still have the behaviors of a using person. You will still get thoughts of using drugs and alcohol. Especially when you pass through the old neighborhood that you used to get your drugs or the liquor store you frequented. These thoughts are termed “triggers” and these thoughts can become even stronger when you run into an old fling at the gas pump or grocery store.

Staying away from your old neighborhood doesn’t have to last forever. But it does need to be long enough for you to break old habits and behaviors. It needs to be long enough for you to really heal and recover from your addiction.


Old friends equal a troubled mind for a “newcomer.”.  Even when the old friend is supportive of your sobriety. The old scenario goes like this: You go hang out and catch up on what you missed while away at treatment and everything goes fine. Then you hang out again. Next time, another old friend or group is at their house. Now you’re all sitting around remembering the good ol’ times. Next thing you know, you’re forgetting about all the crappy and embarrassing things that lead you to get sober. One thing leads to another and there is a drink in your hand, line ready to be snorted, etc. DONE!!! If you somehow make it out without using, now you have the confidence that you can do it again and in time you relapse. Hanging out in slippery places will cause you to slip eventually.


Secrets are lies and lies are poison. Poison makes you sick and can sometimes kill you. Brutal honesty is a cornerstone of recovery from drug and alcohol addiction all the way down to being honest about where you were, what you are up to and even whether or not you drank your roommate’s milk.


Working in bars, nightclubs, strip clubs, pool halls and casinos are a no brainer. You just don’t need that level of exposure to the drinking and lifestyle in the beginning. Unless of course a few dollars an hour is worth your sobriety in which you probably aren’t that serious about sobriety anyways. Other employment no no’s are restaurants that serve alcohol. Many times, we see people go to what they think is good, quick money and end up drinking shortly after. Another big one to steer clear of is off shore work or jobs that require travel. In the beginning, you don’t want periods of time where you are alone without support.


It can be difficult to meet new people. Especially since you are no longer the life of the party or the drug dealer who everybody wants to know. A very common behavior for “new comers” is to rely on old friends and family for support instead of diving in and getting to know people who are on the same journey. Although sound advise may be given by these supporters of your recovery, they just don’t fully understand the mind of an addict/alcoholic. What may be a good idea for a non-recovering person may not be the best advice for a person new in recovery.


Many times the lifestyle of an alcoholic or addict is full of excitement, adrenaline rushes and drama. When you get sober, most of that goes away. So, what do you do with all that free time? How do you cope with the absence of that thrill that you have become so accustom to?

On the other end of the spectrum is loneliness. All of the friends that you used to hang out with are now threats to your sobriety. Not to mention that now you have nothing in common except memories of things that got you restless, irritable and discontent with your life. What are you to do now?


Another one that would go on our top list of  mistakes that lead to relapse would be getting into a relationship. There are many reasons why this trips people up but the main one is the inability to focus on recovery. Getting into a relationship (or staying in one) takes time and effort to make things work. That is time that could be spend working on learning how to live sober. The initial thrill of getting attention usually becomes a cross addiction. Cross addictions may be healthier than drinking or using but its very common to fall back on old addictions when the new drug called infatuation doesn’t work out.


Now that you have this wonderful new view on life it should all come together right? You are doing good things now and the world should hand you a good job, nice car, loving relationship and money in the bank, right? Back to the beginning…give yourself time. Be patient with yourself and with your sobriety. It is fragile in the beginning and things will start falling into place as you keep doing the work even though it may not be on your own time.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s