Stairway to Freedom Sober Living Blog

Five Signs That a Relapse May Be Coming

Getting sober is not easy, but staying sober can be even harder. Even people with long histories of sobriety can occasionally have doubts about how long they will be able to keep it up, but the last thing anybody wants after all that hard work is a relapse. Here at Stairway to Freedom, we want to make sure that those who find their way out of our sober living recovery homes in Chicago stay healthy.

If you feel like you or someone you know is slipping, keeping an eagle eye out for the following signs of relapse could help with relapse prevention moving forward:

  • Growing Complacent – It can be easy for former addicts to believe they have their addictions under control, perhaps to the point that they skip certain positive habits that helped usher them toward sobriety in the first place. If someone starts eating more poorly, stops exercising, or insists that one drink or a small amount of a drug is not going to hurt them, it could be a sign that they are nearing a slip.
  • Failure to Deal with Increased Stress – For many people, substance abuse emerges as a crutch for dealing with stress. If someone sees increased stress in their work or personal lives and cannot figure out how to approach that stress in a healthy way, it is possible they could return to drugs or alcohol as a means of coping.
  • Isolation – Sober people need constant support from other loving, sober people in their lives, so if someone falls off the map and stops interacting with those positive influences in their lives, it could be a sign that they are hoping to avoid confrontation about a possible relapse.
  • Connecting with Old Friends – The opposite side of the social spectrum occurs when a former addict reconnects with associates who were part of their lives before sobriety. Spending time with people who were part of that old, damaging lifestyle can make it easy to slip back into that old, damaging lifestyle right along with them.
  • Missing Meetings – For many former addicts, a big part of sober living is attending meetings. While not everyone gets the same experience from these meetings in terms of maintaining their sobriety, a sudden pattern of skipping meetings for those that appear to need them is a major red flag for a potential relapse. Most people get at least something out of these recovery meetings, and missing them suggests that a relapse could be coming.

If you or someone you care about shows any of these signs or there is any sort of fear that a slip is coming, please reach out to someone in the Stairway to Freedom community so we can prevent a relapse before it happens. We care about keeping people sober because we know how much work it is to make that happen. The easiest way to avoid having to go through it all again is nipping those feelings of doubt before they lead to a regretful mistake.

How Can Sober Living Facilities in Chicago Support My Emotional Health?

The early days of recovery can feel like they drag on forever. You may feel empty, depressed or like you've lost your best friend. All sorts of emotions begin to surface. Emotions that you didn't even know existed.

Anger, fear, grief, shame. These feelings can rise up in your body and feel like you're being assaulted. You may feel filled with rage or like crying for hours. You may feel like you want revenge or you may experience self-loathing. When these emotions surface, it's vital to seek support and resources.

Let's explore ways you can handle these uncomfortable emotions.

Long-forgotten Emotions

All emotions have a cause and a purpose in our lives. Each emotion serves a function that only it can do. But after years in active addiction, we start to lose our ability to identify our emotions. Sober Living Chicago Houses can bring you the support you need to safely explore the following emotions:


Anger is within us as a protective mechanism signifying a boundary violation. When anger arises, we must first ask ourselves, "did someone violate my boundary or did I violate my own boundary by going against my values?"

Functions: Drives us to action, signals a boundary violation


  • Journaling about your anger- this can help calm the anger so you can see and understand it more clearly
  • Speaking with a trusted person or in group about the anger
  • If the anger is towards yourself, identifying where you violated your value code and remedy the situation- amends and self-forgiveness are ways to begin remedying the situation
  • If the anger is towards another person, PAUSE- allow yourself time to process your anger with a trusted other, then communicate your boundary
  • Identify the fear hidden beneath the anger- "what am I afraid of?"
  • Seek feedback from others- what do they see? How have they handled anger regarding a similar situation? Learn from others

* Oftentimes, anger will dissolve after we feel listened to and validated, which is why speaking to a counselor, sponsor or peer at a Sober Living Chicago house can be so helpful


Underneath all anger is fear. We're afraid of losing someone or something. The two most common fears in the human experience are the fear of rejection and abandonment.

Functions: Protection, survival


  • Journaling about your fear with two columns marked "true fear" and "imagined fear"
  • Speaking with a trusted person or in group- you'll find that most other people have the same fear
  • Seek feedback- what suggestions might they have? How have they handled a similar fear in the past?


It's important that we get in touch with our grief during the recovery process. It's normal to feel intense feelings of loss as we step from our half-life of addiction, into our full-life of sobriety. We need to be able to grieve and release:

  • Our drug-of-choice
  • Relationships during active addiction
  • Mistakes during active addiction (after taking responsibility and making amends)
  • Lost opportunities
  • Jobs

Functions: Making way for the new


  • Welcoming the stages of grief into your life. It's all part of the process- denial, anger, bargaining, depression, acceptance
  • Journaling
  • Speaking to a trusted person or your group
  • Seeking feedback


During early recovery, we must begin to separate our healthy shame from toxic shame. Healthy shame is what we feel for hurting those we love. Healthy shame moves us to recognize the pain we caused, take responsibility and change our direction.

Toxic shame is what happens when we feel unworthy, defective or damaged. This type of shame can create "shame spirals" that pull us down quickly. We need to separate the two: "I am not a bad person for making a mistake, but I did something bad and need to take responsibility for correcting it."

Functions: Prompts us to change course and make amends


  • Journaling
  • Speaking with a trusted person
  • Seeking feedback
  • Making amends

Loving Yourself Through It All

Above all, do NOT isolate. This is a trap. Reach out. Seek support. And give yourself credit for how far you've come. Be patient with yourself. Encourage yourself. And, most importantly, love yourself, not the addiction.

Sober Living Chicago Resources

If you're looking for Sober Living Chicago facilities that will provide the support and accountability you need while you sort out your emotions, contact us. We are committed to helping you maintain sobriety. Give us a call today!


A Halfway House Can Be Your Path to Living Sober


Living sober matters, but it can be a struggle if you don't have the right resources and support. If you've ever searched for "halfway house near me" and come up empty, you know it can be a bad feeling. Where are you supposed to get the help you need once you leave the detox or drug treatment facility? If you live in the Chicago area, you have options. Stairway to Freedom offers Recovery Homes in that area, so you can have a safe and structured environment to start rebuilding your life. By the time you go to drug treatment or alcohol detox, a lot of damage may have already been done to your life, and fixing that takes time.

Choosing a Halfway House

In some areas there may not be too many options for halfway houses, but why should you choose one in the first place? These houses are excellent choices for anyone who has left a detox or treatment center and isn't quite ready for independent living just yet. After drug or alcohol treatment, many people struggle to find jobs and secure safe and comfortable housing because of their past mistakes. They may have damaged their credit and finances, along with their relationships with the people closest to them. A halfway house can give them the chance to get back on track, so they can work and live independently again.

Following the Rules Matters

Halfway houses are very strict, with a deep commitment to living sober. When you search for "halfway house near me" and decide living there is right for you, remember that rules will have to be followed. There is no allowance for drugs or alcohol in these locations, and most Chicago halfway houses have rules about curfews and visitors, as well. Anyone who lives there is expected to pitch in and help, and is also expected to take steps toward moving their life forward in a positive direction. If you aren't ready to do those things and can't commit to the importance of them, a halfway house may not be the right choice for you.

Independent Living is on the Horizon

When you live at a Chicago halfway house, you have the opportunity to start rebuilding your life. Take that opportunity and focus on it, because it's a very important way for you to get a second chance. Even if you feel you've made too many mistakes or you can never get things turned around, there are always options and choices to be made. Finding a job and saving money is part of that, along with the potential to rebuild relationships with friends and family members who may have backed away during your struggle with drugs or alcohol. A job and better relationships can help lead to independent living once again.

Don't Be Afraid to Ask for Help

No matter what kind of situation you find yourself in, help is available. Once you go through drug treatment or are released from a detox facility, a halfway house can be exactly the help you need. It gives you a transition period between the facility you were in and an independent living situation, which gives you a way to rebuild without needing to do everything all at once. It can also keep you from having to sleep on the street if you don't yet have the means to rent a place or you don't have a job that pays enough to live independently. Getting to the point where you do have those things is what a halfway house is about.

Sober living is a journey, and how you get there is up to you. But with a halfway house to go to you know you have a safe place to sleep. It also gives you a sense of home and community, and others who understand where you've been and what you're going through. That sense of belonging can go a very long way toward helping you build an independent life once again.



It's Never Too Late to Start Living a Sober Life

If you made a New Year's Resolution that you were going to get sober, and it's May and you haven't done it yet, don't give up. It's never too late to make a change, and begin a sober lifestyle. It doesn't matter what day of the year, week, or month it is, or how long you've been saying you're going to change and haven't. It doesn't matter whether you feel like you've wasted your chance to get sober this year, because you haven't. You always have a choice, and you can choose, today, to begin a sober life. When you do that, and you get sober, then it's time for you to find a new path in life, and rebuild what you may have lost in the past.

Sober Living Options in Chicago

After you get treatment you may not be sure where to go or what you're going to do next. Fortunately, when it comes to sober living in Chicago, there are many places you can go. That means you'll be in good company, and around others who have been through similar struggles and succeeded at winning their battles, too. You can get a lot of support and encouragement from people like that, especially when it comes to halfway houses and other locations where recovering addicts move from treatment programs and struggle to a better life and a fresh start. You can be one of those people who moves on and lives a good, sober, happy life.

Housing is Important During and After Recovery

If you're involved in a program that offers in-patient treatment you'll have somewhere to stay, while outpatient programs can sometimes be more difficult. But the housing after treatment is also vital. In some cases it can be hard to find a place when you're coming from treatment and on the road to recovery. But you do have options for sober living. Chicago is a great city full of opportunities, and when you can stay in a good halfway house with other people who also want to succeed and be healthy and sober, you can make friends, find new options for employment, and move into a happier life that's free of past addictions.

It's About the Support, As Well

While housing is very important, it's not the only thing you need. Having support services matters, too. You will want and need ongoing support to help reduce your chances of relapse. That support can also help you avoid issues with employment and other concerns, and may help you find ways to earn income, volunteer to help others, or do other rewarding projects that will keep you busy and help you feel fulfilled. Having something to do each day that matters to you is one of the best ways to keep your mind on the present and the future, instead of focusing too much on the past.

Don't Forget the Joy in Helping Others

When you work with support services and stay in transitional housing such as a halfway house, plenty of options arise for you to help other people who are in your same situation or who are just trying to find their footing after going through treatment. When you can help people who need it most, you'll find that your life is generally more rewarding. That's a great way to focus your efforts on sober living, and understand how much value you have to the world. There are talents and gifts that only you can give, and by offering those to others you bring more joy to their lives and to yours.

Don't give up on getting and staying sober, and don't give up on finding the support you need and a safe place to stay. When you focus on moving forward and not looking back, you can see a brighter, better future for yourself that's free of addiction and full of possibilities.

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