It took five years of trying before being sober started to click for me. Five years of AA, detoxes, rehab, and relapse. Nothing “worked” until I was ready to commit to living a different life.

In that five years of misery, I relapsed countless times. I would promise myself I would stop drinking and drugging and be drinking or drugging within an hour of my promise. I felt so much shame and guilt when I relapsed. My failures still weigh heavy on me.

However, there is hope! When I got sober, I had very high expectations of myself. I focused on the end goal – never drinking or drugging again. But those expectations are too high. I can’t live my entire life all at once. I can only live it one day, one hour, one minute at a time.

expectations_reality

Relapse is not failure — it’s part of recovery!

    • It’s more common than you think.
      It’s reported that less than 20% of patients who receive treatment for alcoholism remain alcohol-free for an entire year. Of course, the relapse rate goes down as time in sobriety increases, but the chance to relapse is always available.

 

    • You can overcome relapse.
      Redouble your efforts to fight your cravings. Now you know what you’re up against. This isn’t the first time you’ve gotten sober. Take care of your physical, mental, and emotional self. Do what you need to do to remove yourself from situations that make you want to use.

 

    • You can start over.
      It’s time to re-evaluate your strategy for staying sober. What went wrong? Where was the breakdown? In every case, the relapse happened long before deciding to take the first drink or drug. What will you do to catch yourself in the future before you get to that point?

 

  • Don’t throw away past success.
    Yes, the guilt and shame is heavy and painful, and perhaps they are truly emotions that you should be feeling. But don’t dwell in that shame. You can still build on the success you have had in the past. Take those good experiences with you as you start over, and choose to leave the bad behind.

I started this blog more than a year ago, and then I relapsed and forgot all about it. I had no interest in staying sober or sharing my story – no desire to reach out to others. A miracle has happened in my life. A complete change in my psyche.

Throughout the five years I tried to get sober, I kept dragging myself in and out of AA, picking up white chips. People would tell me, “Keep coming back until the miracle happens.” I didn’t know what they meant – until the miracle happened.

The AA 9th Step Promises state that “we will not regret the past nor with to shut the door on it.” I hope that my story and all my relapses will one day give someone else hope that they too can overcome their addiction.

I am still (and always will be) in danger of relapse. As an alcoholic/addict, I cannot promise that I will never drink or drug again. I can only say that I am not going to drink or take a pill this minute, this hour, today. Tomorrow, I will think about tomorrow.

 

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