Subtle Signs You’ve Become Complacent in Sobriety

I saw the sign and it opened up my eyes. Okay, okay, it’s cheesy, I know. The point to my horrible joke was to acknowledge that seeing the signs is always favorable. As addicts and alcoholics, we love to turn a blind eye to the things we don’t want to deal with and make them seemingly plausible nearly impossible. We’re just hard headed people with alcoholic thinking that causes us to fight ourselves. We become our own worst enemies and struggle to see this through the haze of chemically laden thinking that’s constantly drowning all sanity between our ears.

I’d imagine that anybody who takes interest in any form of recovery has done so for a reason – right? If that’s the case, then why do we go through such effort to get clean and then begin lying to ourselves again? Putting together a small amount of clean time does not entitle us to justify all our actions. As the wheels of time continue to turn, we start taking our will power back from our higher power and become ever more complacent in sobriety. Watching for the red flags and calling ourselves out is one of the only barriers standing between us and a pine box story.

Open Your Eyes

For those who are not aware, becoming complacent in sobriety is like a cousin of relapse. It starts in the brain long before the actual consumption of alcohol or various chemicals. Usually, there are plenty of signals that start appearing when somebody has started slacking and become complacent in sobriety. When an individual has fully immersed themselves in recovery, it is blatantly obvious what their intentions are and what they are striving for. Addiction and alcoholism are not easy beasts to conquer and when somebody is doing all they can to fight for their lives, it shows.

It’s usually pretty easy to see when somebody has become complacent in sobriety and their recovery is smoking on the back burner. In a nutshell, they begin taking their will back and deciding they know what’s best for them in the end- despite advice from outsiders and loved ones. This newly developed complacent in sobriety attitude can come off as cocky or insecure, but either way, it’s the alcoholic thinking speaking up. It starts becoming easier to skip meetings after the first few times and the feelings of initial guilt/shame have calmed down. I’ve seen time and time again where a buddy has done this for a while and over time has slowly developed the mindset that Alcoholics Anonymous meetings are now pointless. This is a person who is on the pathway to relapse if they don’t act because of how complacent in sobriety they’ve become.

Stop Telling Lies

At some point after justifying all our actions and allowing our alcoholic thinking to take over, being complacent in sobriety is just an understatement. It kind of becomes a big “F U” to ourselves and we struggle to even believe the things we’ve conjured upstairs. Negativity becomes the oxygen we breathe in day in and day out. Addiction numbs us to reality and causes us to always look at things from the perspective of the glass always being half empty. All of the negative thinking naturally attracts more negative experiences. Mood swings and just a general sense of unease will kind of become the norm. Even the best of us will have a hard time seeing where our heads are going. We convince ourselves we aren’t actually getting high, so what’s the problem?

Of course, this all goes hand in hand. As some of these signs of becoming complacent in sobriety start appearing, more behaviors will inevitably begin appearing:

  •         Sleeping all the time
  •         Overeating or under eating
  •         Indulging in any other addiction
  •         Impulsivity
  •         Introversion
  •         Grandiosity/Arrogance   

With the negative outlook and more off-putting situations occurring, it’s common to see the addict or alcoholic begin losing all forms of hope. Ambitions and an attitude of gratitude will be foreign concepts they can’t make out as they become blinded. Addiction and alcoholism will convince that we should either give up or that nothing is as bad as it seems. Promising option, huh?   

Try to Realize

As we become more and more complacent in sobriety, dreams only continue turning into nightmares. This overwhelming complacency will literally suck the life out of them to the point where they feel like getting high or drinking is the only way to cope with such a bottom. It gets to a point where there hasn’t been any action taken in so long that our alcoholic thinking is just bubbling over and driving us mad.  

As we become complacent in our sobriety, outsiders will just assume something is off. They think, “Clearly a physical relapse hasn’t cropped up yet, so everything must be okay.” Wrong. We start to build up this feeling of inadequacy with life and can’t seem to put our fingers on it. It’s not necessarily even that we’re not good enough. It’s this overriding premonition that something in life is missing. The addict or alcoholic will just have a sense of being stressed and lost about them to sum everything up. It’s usually pretty unmistakable.

If this sounds like your loved one, being able to call the addict or alcoholic out on these little signs can make an entire world of a difference. Call them out and talk about it if need be. Knowing the premonitions before they occur may just save somebody’s life close to you. Most of the time they may not even be aware of it.

If this sounds like you, keep reading to find out how to recreate that necessary sense of urgency to maintain sobriety.

Choose Joy

The first step to overcoming complacency in sobriety is to remember the risk. Feeling too confident and cocky in your sobriety is dangerous because it can cause you to relapse.  

Remember how bad things were when you first started treatment? You probably don’t want to go back there.

To remember that feeling, consider getting re-involved in the community from a mentor perspective. Working with others who are just in the beginning stages of their recovery journey is a humbling reminder of the situation you were once in. It’s also a good way to positively impact the lives of those recovering addicts.

Other ways to humble yourself include making an effort to practice gratitude daily by writing in a gratitude journal, and deepening your spiritual practice by praying or meditating every day. Taking time to connect with your higher power will help you remember to surrender your power and allow you to find continued success on your journey to lifelong recovery.

It can be intimidating to know that addiction and alcoholism are always right around the corner. Often times getting too complacent in sobriety can drive us back to the bottle. Complacency and relapse are most certainly avoidable if we want them to be. When it comes to recovery, what you reap is what you sew.

If you or a loved one has been struggling to make the next step, please call 512-598-5595 or visit  We have trained specialists on standby ready to help you start sending your life in a direction that will have you come out on top feeling healthy and happy with the outcome of your future. The time to love yourself is now.


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Healing from substance use disorder isn’t linear, but it does always start with taking the first step. Our team of caring admissions specialists are here for you 24/7. Please, reach out, and let us guide you towards freedom and a new way of life.

Call or text (512) 960-1440 today to begin your journey to wholeness.