In recovery meetings, we often hear it said that “relapse is a part of recovery.” While this is true for some people, it doesn’t have to continue to be a part of your story forever. Once a person has relapsed several times, it can be hard not to give in to despair. Each time we start sobriety anew, we have such high hopes for ourselves. We see hope and joy in the faces of our family members and loved ones, only to watch their faces fall as we relapse yet again. Repeated relapses can have devastating effects on our long-term mental health and can leave us feeling hopeless.
Fortunately, thousands of alcoholics and addicts worldwide have experienced chronic relapses and found a way to permanently stay sober. If you have a history of frequent relapse, try not to let it get you down. Instead, let’s take a look at what relapse is and how you can break this cycle.
It’s Time to Reflect
Before we do anything else, we need to take a look at each of our relapses. We need to evaluate precisely what went wrong in our recovery and figure out how to avoid the same pitfalls in the future. For most people who have experienced chronic relapse, their stumbling blocks typically fall into some of the following categories:
- Relationships – Many of us struggle to stay single, even during the painful and hectic early days of sobriety. Unfortunately, most addicts and alcoholics in early recovery lack the tools to forge a successful union of any sort. The challenges and emotions of romantic relationships can often be too much for us until we get more stable in our sobriety.
- Money – Whether too much or too little, money is almost always problematic for people in recovery. If we’re struggling to make enough money to live, the depression, anxiety, and fear it produces can lead us to relapse. Likewise, focusing on money too much can detract from our ability to focus on staying sober.
- Defiance – It has been said that the defining characteristic of the alcoholic or addict is defiance. This means we naturally tend to defy people around us, even if they are just trying to help. This character trait often shows itself in our refusal to follow others’ suggestions or an inability to work well with others.
- Dishonesty – Chronic substance abuse basically requires that we become proficient in lying and deception. It’s not really a weakness in our character, it’s a way of life we’ve lived for so long that it becomes hard to stop. Still, if we’re unable to get honest with the people trying to help us, we’re unlikely to stay sober.
This list is obviously an incomplete, broad set of examples by which you may guide your investigations. You may find that your relapses fit neatly into these categories, or you might discover that your issues are something else entirely. Regardless, the goal is to figure out what is interfering with your sobriety. It may also pay to have someone help you with this, preferably a person with some time sober. They may be able to help you see things you may not have recognized on your own.
What To Do With This Information
Once we’ve figured out where we’re going wrong with each of our relapses, a pattern usually presents itself. For instance, maybe your first relapse was because your girlfriend left you. A few months later, you relapsed when you couldn’t find a date for your cousin’s wedding. Then, you ended up drunk at a bar with some of your friends who were out looking for girls to hang out with. Alternatively, maybe you’re seeing a pattern of refusing to follow suggestions from others. You’ve jumped from Alcoholics Anonymous to Narcotics Anonymous to SMART Recovery and then decided to try Celebrate Recovery. In each instance, you may have thought the programs themselves weren’t working when, upon reflection, it was your refusal to follow the suggested steps that were holding you back.
These truths may be hard to look at sometimes. Often, the hardest facts to accept are ones grounded in our own defects. Still, once we have identified what’s been going wrong, we can make a change. Once you’ve recognized this pattern, make it your goal to hold yourself accountable. Tell your sobriety brothers and sisters what’s going on. Come clean to your sponsor or mentor. Let everyone know what you struggle with, so they can help you change and hold you responsible. The only way to break this cycle of relapse is to figure out what’s going wrong and then utilize all the tools at your disposal to do things differently.
Breaking the relapse cycle is difficult, but it’s not impossible. If you’re struggling to achieve long-term sobriety, try something new by reaching out to Hired Power. Our goal is to support the recovery program in your life, whether it’s outpatient A.A., inpatient detox, or something in between. We offer services tailored to every step, from sober transport to make sure you get to rehab safe and secure, to sober coaching, which will help you stay sober once you leave a treatment center’s safety. At each step of the journey, you’re likely to need help.
Hired Power is one of the most reliable ways to get the help you need, so give us a call today at (800) 910-9299 to learn more about our services.