Self-sabotage is a big concern for many during the recovery process. While you may be aware of some self-destructive behaviors, many of them can go unnoticed for a long period.

The following skills can help you recognize self-sabotaging behaviors you might be engaging in. Recognizing self-sabotage is the first step toward overcoming it. You can implement skills to change these behaviors and keep yourself on track to recovery success.

Examples of Self-Sabotage

Self-sabotage can be recognized, though the process may be difficult. To start, review the following examples of self-destructive behavior. Look at yourself from a realistic perspective and attempt to determine if you are engaging in any of the behaviors listed or any similar behaviors.


If you find yourself constantly isolating when you experience strong emotions, this can be a form of self-sabotage. While we all need our alone time at certain points, falling into a habit of self-isolation can cause you to cut off your support system. Over time, this leads to more feelings of loneliness. To avoid this, try to utilize your support system and reach out to your treatment team during difficult times.

Engaging in Moral Leniency

Another form of self-sabotaging behavior is to be lenient in your moral obligations to yourself. For example, if you commit to no longer using substances, allowing yourself to use a little, just this once, is going against your moral desires. Another moral commitment you may have made to yourself is to refrain from engaging with a certain friend group because they negatively impact your recovery process. Choosing to see them and disregard the obligation you made is another example of moral leniency.

Moral leniency often occurs from a conflict within your emotions. When you lack the skills to appropriately regulate your emotions, you may engage in impulsive actions. These impulsive actions may lead to you making decisions that go against your morals. Use appropriate mechanisms to cope with your emotions to refrain from letting them affect your moral judgment.

This form of self-sabotaging behavior is extremely concerning and can be a harder one to recognize. Because there are many forms that moral leniency can take, you may not recognize the behaviors. Assess the goals you have in place and the morals you hold to through recovery. If any of your actions go against these morals, you are likely falling into moral leniency. If an action you are doing consistently makes you feel disappointed with yourself, it may be a form of moral leniency.

Each time to go against one of your morals, you are slowly deconstructing the base you have built-in recovery. Keep your support strong and engage in actions that strengthen your moral commitments.


Engaging in self-harm can also be considered a form of self-sabotage. You may have reasoning behind using self-harm. For example, it is often used as a coping mechanism for the stress of recovery. This is considered to be self-sabotage because you are harming yourself in the process.

Rather than relying upon self-harm as a recovery coping mechanism, try implementing alternative mechanisms that help contribute to your overall health and well-being instead of temporarily alleviating the emotional pain at a long-term cost.

Destroying Opportunities

This form of self-sabotage is another one that is often difficult to recognize. When you have a job opportunity lined up, a new support system being built, or a length of sobriety maintenance, you may feel that you are on a good track. From an outside perspective, it may look like you are doing extremely well.

In reality, many of us find comfort in our normal feelings and behaviors. When things begin to change for the better, it can be uncomfortable. This is hard to recognize because it goes against perceptions of what you would expect to happen.

When feelings of discomfort begin to arise, you may subconsciously sabotage the opportunity ahead of you to avoid the change. This may mean turning down a job offer or quitting before trying, destroying relationships within your new support system, or using again just to avoid the potential change.

We are creatures of habit, and change of any form can be difficult for us to comprehend. Remind yourself that these changes are going to help you feel better in the long run. There may be moments of discomfort, but the result will leave you better off than before.

The Importance of Recognizing Self-Sabotage

You may feel that behaviors of self-sabotage will dissipate and are not vital to address with your current situation. However, these behaviors can turn into habits and can be damaging to the recovery process if not addressed properly. By recognizing self-sabotaging behaviors, you can implement alternative habits to overcome them. Understanding what behaviors you engage in that are self-destructive is the most effective way to reverse these behaviors.

Many of these self-destructive behaviors can lead to relapse if not carefully monitored. This ties in greatly with the overall goals of recovery, as you are working to maintain lifelong sobriety. Use this knowledge to adapt your thought processes and be aware of your potential concerning behaviors to help create your best self.

Self-sabotaging behaviors are a true concern for individuals in recovery. You may feel that there is no way to recognize these behaviors within yourself, but there are many ways that you can do this. Reviewing the different behaviors that are considered to be self-destructive is often enough to help you recognize these behaviors. If you find that you are engaging in self-sabotaging behaviors, reach out to your treatment team immediately. Together, you can create a plan to counteract those plans and create new habits that continue your success in recovery. To learn more about self-sabotaging behaviors and learn how to recognize them, reach out to Dream Recovery today at (657) 216-7218.

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