Crisis Building. During this phase recovering people begin to experience a sequence of life problems that are caused by denying personal feelings, isolating self, and neglecting the recovery program. Even though they want to solve these problems and work hard at it, two new problems pop up to replace every problem that is solved. The most common warning signs that occur during this period are:
Tunnel Vision. Tunnel vision is seeing only one small part of life and not being able to get "the big picture." Many recovering people look at life as being made up of separate, unrelated parts. They focus on one part without looking at the other parts or how they are related. Sometimes this creates the mistaken belief that everything is secure and going well. At other times this results in seeing only what is going well. At other times this results in seeing only what is going wrong. Small problems are blown up out of proportion. When this happens they come to believe they are being treated unfairly and have no power to do anything about it.
Minor Depression. Symptoms of depression begin to appear and to persist. They may feel down, blue, listless, empty of feelings. Oversleeping becomes common. They are able to distract themselves from these moods by getting busy with other things and not taking about the depression.
Loss of Constructive Planning. They may stop planning each day and the future. They often mistake the AA slogan. "One day at a time." to mean that they should not plan or think about what they are going to do. Less and less attention is paid to details. They become listless. Plans are based more on wishful thinking (how they wish things would be) than reality (how things actually are).
Plans Begin to Fail. Because they make plans that are not realistic and do not pay attention to details, plans begin to fail. Each failure causes new life problems. Some of these problems are similar to the problems that occurred during drinking. These typically include marital, work, social, and money problems. They often feel guilty and remorseful when these problems occur.
Immobilization. During this phase the recovering person is unable to initiate action. He or she goes through the motions of living but is controlled by life rather than controlling life.
Daydreaming and Wishful Thinking. It becomes more difficult to concentrate. The "if only" syndrome becomes more common in conversation. They begin to have fantasies of escaping or "being rescued from it all" by an event unlikely to happen.
Feelings That Nothing Can Be Solved. A sense of failure begins to develop. The failure may be real or may be imagined. Small failures are exaggerated and blown out of proportion. The belief that "I have tried my best and recovery is not working out" begins to develop.
Immature Wish to Be Happy. A vague desire "to be happy" or to have "things work out" may develop without their identifying what is necessary to be happy or have things work out. "Magical thinking is used." They want things to get better without doing anything to make them better, without paying the price of making things better.
Confusion and Overreaction. During this period recovering people have trouble thinking clearly. They become upset with themselves and those around them. They become irritable and overreact to small things. The most common warning signs experienced during this phase are:
Periods of Confusion. Periods of confusion become more frequent, last longer, and cause more problems. The recovering people experiencing this often feel angry with themselves because of their inability to figure things out.
Irritation with Friends. Relationships become strained with friends, family, counselors, and AA members. The recovering people may feel threatened when others talk about the changes they are noticing in their behavior and mood. The conflicts continue to increase in spite of their efforts to resolve them. They begin to feel guilty and remorseful about their role in these conflicts.
Easily Angered. They may experience episodes of anger, frustration, resentment, and irritability for no real reason. Overreaction to small things becomes more frequent. Stress and anxiety increase because of the fear that overreaction might result in violence. The effort to control themselves adds to the stress and tension.
Behavioral Loss of Control. During this phase they become unable to control or regulate personal behavior or daily schedules. There is still heavy denial and no full awareness of being out of control. Their life becomes chaotic and many problems are created in all areas of life and recovery. The most common warning signs experienced during this period are:
Irregular Attendance at AA and Treatment Meetings. They stop attending AA regularly and begin to miss scheduled appointments for counseling or treatment. They find excuses to justify this and do not recognize the importance of AA and treatment. They develop the attitude that "AA and counseling are not making me feel better, so why should I make them a number one priority? Other things are more important."
Development of an "I Don't Care" Attitude. They try to act as if they do not care about the problems that are occurring. This is to hide feelings of helplessness and a growing lack of self-respect and self-confidence.
Open Rejection of Help. They cut themselves off from people who can help. They may do this by having fits of anger that drive
others away, by criticizing and putting others down, or by quietly withdrawing from others.
Dissatisfaction with Life. Things seems so bad that they begin to think that they might as well begin addictive use because things could not get worse. Life seems to have become unmanageable since drinking has stopped.
Feelings of Powerlessness and Helplessness. They develop difficulty in "getting started" have trouble thinking clearly, concentrating, and thinking abstractly; and feel that they can not do anything and begin to believe that there is no way out.