So you’ve been to treatment, have made a complete lifestyle change and now you’re sober. By giving up drinking, drugging, and your substance of choice, suddenly multiple other aspects of your life change. Make no mistake, early sobriety is hard, and it’s full of ups and downs. The beginning period of recovery can often times feel like an emotional roller coaster. Triggers can loom in the distance and pitfalls can creep up out of nowhere. While each person’s experience can be unique, it’s crucial to be hyper-vigilant during this time. As relapse can be common, it’s not necessary. Though, according to a 2018 report by the National Institute on Drug Abuse the relapse rate for substance use disorders is estimated to be between 40% and 60%. This rate is similar to the relapse rates for other chronic diseases such as hypertension and asthma.

Pitfalls in Early Sobriety

While these numbers can be frightening, if you or a loved one are experiencing anything like the ups and downs of early sobriety, not to fear. Struggles and setbacks can be normal, and there are ways and resources to get you through the process. Here are five common mistakes that people make in early sobriety:

Replacing Addictions

In our addictions, using pushed down the negative feelings we had. In early sobriety, it can be common to find ourselves using other ways to make ourselves feel better. There are times when our addictive and maladapative behaviors can turn to food, sex, relationships, or codependency. If we’re acting out in these behaviors, we can begin to rationalize more behaviors, which can then lead us back to square one. It’s crucial to have sober supports, mentors, and sober networks that can keep us accountable for our behaviors and make sure we’re living with the integrity that we’ve worked so hard for.

Expecting To Change Instantly

Just because you’ve done a little bit of work on yourself doesn’t mean that things are going to change overnight. Recovery is a process and can take a considerable amount of time to get things in order. Your family, friends, or employer may not be ready to forgive and forget. Addiction is a disease that often times demands instant gratification to make us feel better. Expecting things to change instantly can create disappointment and complacency, and if you’re not careful it can lead to back into a slippery slope of relapse. Success takes time, and so does sobriety.

Not Reaching Out For Support

You asked for help once, don’t be afraid to ask for help again. In early recovery, old ways of thinking can make you believe that asking for help for the little things don’t matter. In turn, these smaller issues can snowball into bigger issues, including relapse. Support groups and newfound sober supports are crucial if we want to maintain recovery. Maintaining recovery is a process and requires asking for help more than once. At this point our lives count on it.

Believing You Can Get Someone Else Sober

When you get sober and start to feel comfortable in your skin, it’s common to want everyone to feel the same as you. You have everything it takes to get sober, so why not share that with someone else, right? Wrong. During these times, you may start to get overzealous. By trying to help someone else, it can take the focus away from nurturing our own needs, let alone hinder our own sobriety. Just because we’ve fixed ourselves, doesn’t mean we can fix everyone else. Take a step back and remember that your sobriety should come first.


Comparing yourself to others in early sobriety is one of the biggest pitfalls we can find ourselves in. With the pressures of social media, is easy to compare ourselves to others without even thinking. It’s important to remember that no two journeys are the same, and your recovery may look completely different from a friend or a loved one’s. It’s true that everyone recovers at their own speed. While it may look like someone has it all together on the outside, everyone struggles with something. Instead of comparing, find ways to relate to their story.

While these aren’t all the pitfalls in early sobriety, they can be found as some of the most common. Sobriety requires hard work on ourselves and there’s many stages we must go through to get our lives back in order.  If you or a loved one have experienced a relapse, Lumiere Healing Centers specializes in relapse prevention. Call our specialized admissions staff today at: 513-847-3573

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