5 Clues You’re Headed for a Relapse
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5 Clues You’re Headed for a Relapse


Feeling itchy? Catch yourself staring longingly across a crowded restaurant at some old grumpy couple’s half-empty carafe of Cabernet? You, my friend, might need to have a little talk with yourself. There’s a reasonable chance that you could be headed for a relapse if you don’t check yourself now. Here are some signs to look out for…

1) You Start Romanticizing Your Past

Remember that gross corner dive bar where you puked, without fail, every single weekend all over the peanut-shell-covered floor…? Yeah, if/when that nasty dive starts to look good to you again, you might want to take a peek in the bathroom mirror. When you start fantasizing about the good old days of getting wrecked on the regular, um, stop. Call a friend. Hit a meeting. And don’t drink.

2) You Dump Your Trusty Sober Routine

You were going to five 12-step meetings a week for your first six months sober, and you were feeling pretty damn good. But that doesn’t mean you didn’t start to get restless, and distracted, and lo and behold, your meetings dwindle to three. Then, a few months later, it becomes two. And just like the Spice Girls predicted, two becomes one. Then—whoa, how’d that happen?!—you’re suddenly attending no meetings and catch yourself crying into your morning coffee as you ignore your sponsor. Yeah, all of those are bad things. Cut it out.

3) You Feel Shitty In General

Feeling depressed? Alienated? Anxious? Lonely? Pissed off? Disgusted with yourself? Yeah, those feelings totally suck, we know, and it makes sense that you’d want to avoid them at any cost. But they shouldn’t be avoided via getting loaded, which is what’s bound to happen if you keep going the way you’re going and not opening up to anyone about your struggles. Ask for help, man. It can actually help, we promise. No one ever said sobriety was easy. Sometimes you need to fight for it.

4) You Start Legit Believing You Could Totally Handle Just One Little Drink

While you stare with unabashed yearning at that old grumpy couple with the wine again, take note if your thoughts start to flow like so: “God that looks good. So…red. So juicy. I bet it tastes like manna from heaven. I can practically taste it right now, actually, and how it burns as it goes down, and then you feel all warm and happy and toasty and cozy inside…If those old fogeys can peacefully sip on a glass of vino, why can’t I?” Bad thoughts, bad.

5) You Start Hanging Out With You Drinking/Drugging Buddies

We all have good friends we used to hang with in our younger, wilder days. Those friends may be from high school or college, and they’re solid—we’d never ask you to give them up. But if you’re anything like most of us, you also had a separate subset of friends whose sole purpose in your life was to indulge and share in your mutual obsession with getting as messed up as humanly possible as often as humanly possible. If you find yourself suddenly calling or texting one of those old buds to reminisce about the good old days, perhaps take note and abort the mission.

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About Author

Laura Barcella is a documentary researcher, author, freelance writer and ghostwriter from Washington, DC. Her writing has also appeared in TIME, Marie Claire, Salon, Esquire, Elle, Refinery29, AlterNet, The Village Voice, Cosmopolitan, The Chicago Sun-Times, Time Out New York, BUST, ELLE Girl, NYLON and CNN.com. Her book credits include Know Your Rights: A Modern Kid's Guide to the American Constitution, Fight Like a Girl: 50 Feminists Who Changed the World, Popular: The Ups and Downs of Online Dating from the Most Popular Girl in New York City, Madonna & Me: Women Writers on the Queen of Pop and The End: 50 Apocalyptic Visions From Pop Culture That You Should Know About…Before It’s Too Late.