Reasons for relapse

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    Tom G

    Lately, it seems I know quite a few people who have relapsed. Some have a short amounts of time in sobriety; some with years of sobriety. As one who likes to ‘learn from others mistakes’, I’ve been wondering and asking what triggers those relapses. Selfishly, to prevent my own relapse.

    The folks with shorter recovery times seem to relapse when reacting to short-term emotions. Those could be bad news, relationship problems, trouble at work, etc… The emotion is short-term, but the consequence (relapse), is long-term.

    People with long periods of sobriety, seem to relapse for different reasons. What I’m discovering, is the long-term sobriety people who relapse do so when they put their recovery program on ‘cruise control’. Almost like they get complacent in their recovery.

    Several have said they didn’t think they needed to hit the recovery program so heavily, with all of those years of recovery behind them. Resting on the laurels of long term sobriety doesn’t seem to replace an on-going program of recovery.

    As I approached one year of sobriety, I thought I could ease out of the AA program by the time I hit the 2 year or so mark. That would be putting my recovery in cruise control. That would lead to relapse; and for me, that means death.

    My alcoholism was progressive over many years. My recovery, necessarily, needs to be progressive for the rest of my life.

    I’d like to hear other’s experiences. I would like to learn from your successes, also.

    I’m pulling for everyone out ther to remain sane and sober. Life is worth living. Tom G.

    Heidi Quist

    Love this Tom, it’s always hard when you hear someone went back out of you haven’t heard from them in a while…you wonder are they are okay or are they going to come back or have they really relapsed. As I’m approaching 6 years in recovery I can say I have learned to take a step back and own my recovery and not others. In the beginning I wanted to help everyone and do everything for everyone and I slowly learned I can’t do that. My first go at recovery I only made it one year and then I relapsed, it was completely emotional and I let it all get me and consume me. I saw the train wreck coming but I wouldn’t stop…I am better for it now tho. I am glad I went through it and it made me so much stronger. I have not relapsed since so I can’t speak to long-term recovery relapse and I hope I never have to. Thank you for your awesome post, I love reading your questions and stories! – HQ

    Tom G

    It seems to me that we all start each day with the same opportunity…to be clean and sober when our heads hit the pillow that night. Regardless if we have 24 hours, 1 1/2 years, 6 years or 60 years of sobriety. Length of sobriety doesn’t necessarily increase our chances of staying sober. It may help, but it is not a guarantee.

    No matter how many AA medallions we have on our dresser at home, we are all one drink or use away from relapse. To me, that’s powerful. The day I have no chance to drink again is the day l’m no longer an alcoholic. That day will never come. I’ve accepted that. It stinks, but I’ve accepted that.

    This is why my progress in recovery can never stop. I just need to remind myself of that when I start to ease off the program even a little bit.

    Thanks for letting me put this out there. It helps me in my road to recovery. Tom G.

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