In the recovery community, advice is abundant. The treasured slogans are repeated in every Twelve Step meeting, and sober friends offer suggestions regularly. “Keep it simple.” “If you hang around the barber shop, you’re going to get a haircut.” “Give up the illusion of power over people, places, and things.” The advice is always centered in avoiding drugs and alcohol, avoiding drinking/using situations, and staying honest and reality-based. The goal is to avoid relapse, plain and simple. Everything else follows from that, as illustrated by the warning, “If you don’t stay sober, nothing else is going to get better.”
Relapse can be demoralizing for recovering people, and disappointing for family members, spouses, and significant others. The most important thing to remember about relapse is this: no one can accurately predict how a relapse will end. For some, it is the beginning of a series of harmful events. Relapse can lead to overdose, motor vehicle accidents, criminal charges, divorce, and in some cases, loss of life. Sponsors, friends, counselors, and therapists are naturally concerned about client relapse, given the unpredictability of outcomes.
No one recommends relapse, but what do you do if it happens? First, be honest with those around you. Let people know—it may be embarrassing or painful, but the sooner you get the truth out there, the better. Some in your life may be hurt, disappointed, or angry, but those who care about you will be glad you want to address the relapse. Get into treatment, let your support group know what’s going on, be honest, and begin to replace the guilt with ownership of your actions.
“Mistake” is another name for “experience.” Use the experience you gained to help yourself. Are some of your “friends” not helpful when it comes to staying sober? Were you spending time around drinking and using situations? Were you talking about your emotions with trusted peers and counselors, or were you keeping everything to yourself? Did you stay honest with significant others and family members about where you were going and what you were doing? If you are tired of the results of relapse, it’s time to do something different.
Use the information you came across during the relapse. Don’t waste it. “Pain is the great motivator,” as they say in the Twelve Step meetings. Trade in your pain for some life satisfaction. At Sobriety Matters, we are here to help you answer the question, “What’s the lesson?” Call 713-904-4699 to speak with our Admissions team. We are here to help you figure it out!