Signs of Self-Sabotaging Behavior and How to Combat It

It is a common misconception that everything goes right back to normal once you stop drinking or using drugs. Of course, when you end your active use, some of the most pressing issues immediately disappear, such as your risk for overdose or making poor decisions while under the influence. But many people who have achieved sobriety and are building their recovery find that they experience self-sabotaging behavior even if they are no longer drinking or using drugs.

A major part of recovery is learning how to identify and address problematic behaviors that have sustained themselves through getting sober. Easily some of the most common behaviors that those in recovery grapple with are self-sabotaging behaviors. Even though the active use is over, the persistent act of consciously and unconsciously threatening your own wellbeing can still be occurring. Certainly no one wants to have to come to terms with how their own actions are sabotaging their success, but doing so as soon as possible can help you learn how to effectively combat them so you can not only talk the talk, but walk the walk. 

Signs of Self-Sabotaging Behavior

We often find ourselves doing things that are not good for us, such as staying up late binge watching a favorite tv series or not maintaining a balanced diet. And while these things are not known to increase the overall quality of our lives, they usually do not come with severe consequences. When it comes to your addiction recovery, however, the behaviors you engage or do not engage in can put your life at risk once again. 

As mentioned before, it is a common characteristic of a drug addict or alcoholic to have several self-sabotaging behaviors in their repertoire. But even when the use stops, there can still be many signs of self-sabotaging behavior in your recovery. 


Attempting to recover from a substance use disorder alone is not something that has ever been proven to work. In fact, it is quite the opposite. You, like others in recovery, will recover best with the support of others. Addiction, regardless of if it is to a drug or alcohol, is an extremely complex, challenging disease even when it is not active. Therefore, having the presence of others in your life is vital so that you can be supported and offer support to others. Isolating from friends, family, and loved ones is one of the most common signs of self-sabotaging behavior because it limits you from getting the external support you need in order to remain firm in your recovery. 

Hiding emotions 

Recovery, whether you have been in it for decades or days, is ripe with emotions. You may have days where you struggle enough to consider drinking or using again. You may have moments where you feel jealous of others for being able to use responsibly or wish you could partake in the celebration. You may go through something extremely upsetting like losing a loved one or going through a break up. There is no way around these emotions or experiences, but talking about how you are feeling is vital in keeping your “side of the street” clean. One of the signs of self-sabotaging behavior that is often most prominent in those in recovery is hiding and/or withholding emotions from others. You are not doing yourself any favors by keeping how you feel trapped inside with no place to go. If you do not share how you are feeling with a therapist, members of a local community group, friends, etc., you are sabotaging your own recovery. Allowing emotions to become pent up inside is a recipe for disaster when in recovery. 

Not saying ‘no’

People from all sorts of backgrounds struggle to say ‘no’ enough, as not saying ‘yes’ to everything that is asked of a person often results in feelings of guilt and shame. But in your recovery, you can utilize the power of ‘no’ to help maintain your wellbeing. That is because constantly saying ‘yes’ to everything and anything can not only tire you out, but create stress in your life that can begin jeopardizing your recovery. This is just one of the many signs of self-sabotaging behavior that is seen in several different populations of those in recovery. Learning to utilize “no” not only helps to keep you from becoming overwhelmed, but it also allows you to remain in the driver’s seat in your recovery.

Not asking for help

There is no shame in asking for help with anything, ever! And it is no different in your recovery, either. If you are feeling like you are getting bogged down or do not know how to handle a specific situation, it is absolutely vital to reach out and ask for help. The last thing you want to do is engage in one of the signs of self-sabotaging behavior that can lead you right back down the path of active addiction. So, speaking up when you need help is critical to help safeguard your recovery and the work you are putting into it. 

Combating Self-Sabotaging Behavior 

The good news is, that while you may be finding yourself engaged in some self-sabotage, you can develop skills that help you combat those behaviors. A few of these skills can include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • Identifying what your self-sabotaging behaviors are
  • Working with a therapist
  • Focusing on maintaining a positive mindset 
  • Setting goals for yourself 
  • Developing a plan of action if and when you start noticing signs of self-sabotaging behavior in your life

Recovery Coaching at alteredSTATE

If you think that you are displaying signs of self-sabotaging behavior, the best thing you can do for yourself is ensure that you have the right support in place before you begin and continue to navigate your recovery.

At alteredSTATE, we know about the many challenges that recovery can bring. Reach out to us right now to get moving on your own road to recovery.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Get the help you need

How long have you wanted to be the best version of yourself?

The wait ends now.

Contact Us

You’ve already come a long way. Let’s reach the next level together.

    We're All Recovering from Something.