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Dealing with Relapse

Dealing with Relapse

Almost everyone comes to recovery, whether it is in treatment or by some other means, with the belief that the nightmare of addiction is finally over. There is the sense of relief and resolve, and with it comes some measure of hope, even if this is tempered by equal parts fear. As we move through the early phases of recovery we begin to see that there is the possibility that we could relapse. I know I said to myself that this would never happen to me. It did, and I brought myself back to recovery and sobriety.

When I first came into treatment I was pretty beaten down. Many years of drinking and drugging had left me in bad shape. I was relieved to see it all come to an end. I was anxious to see what life would be like without being bogged down with substance abuse.

The first few weeks went well. I adjusted to the regimen of the treatment program I had gotten into and started to feel better. My physical health improved. I actually slept—really slept for the first time in many years. And I was moving toward living life as a sober person.

Somewhere along the way I began to feel frustrated with the way things were going. Nothing was happening fast enough. I became impatient with the way things were going because I wanted and expected certain results from getting sober. The key to this was expectations.

After six months without drinking, I decided I was alright. I went out and had some drinks. At first things went well. Things went just well enough for me to convince myself that I did not have a problem at all and I could drink just like anyone else. Three months into this experiment and I found myself back in treatment with the shakes. I started all over.

The second time in I decided I would just stop trying to do things my way. I put my expectations away as best I could and focused entirely on getting well. In a fairly short time I was back to the point where I had left. I pushed on and began to feel the wind behind my sails as a sober and recovering person.

Getting life back after becoming chemically dependent for a long time is a long road. In my case there was damage to personal relationships that took a long time to mend. Some of it still not mended. Figuring out how to manage life without my crutch of booze was another task. People in the recovery communities well tell you: “Life keeps happening.’ It would be a cliché if it were not true. I still hit difficult times and I had to learn how to handle those things without hiding.

The important thing is that even after stumbling, I kept going. Recovering from addiction is a process no matter how you approach it. Recovery is not a simple shot in the arm. The good news is that the second time through rehab stuck with me. Life is better than I ever dreamed.

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