cheating on recovery

If you’re past a certain age, you might remember the Lays Potato Chips dare: “betcha can’t eat just one.” The Frito-Lay Company knew something about our overindulgent human nature that recovering addicts struggle with every day. If you’re dealing with drug or alcohol addiction, it’s a fair bet that you cannot have just one hit of your drug or just one drink. You can try to cheat on your recovery by telling yourself that you’ll have just one, but inevitably that one will lead to many more and will derail your entire recovery.

Your substance addiction changed the chemistry of your brain’s pleasure and reward center. If you’re a recovering alcoholic, a single drink will light up that reward center and create intense cravings for a second drink and more. You might justify a single drink as a reward for staying away from alcohol for a period of time or as a one-time mechanism to handle a particularly stressful day. Even if you do manage to stay with one drink, it will be that much easier for you to have a drink to reward yourself or to manage stress the next time, and the time after that. Before long, these minor “slips” in your recovery evolve into full relapses that require you to restart your rehab and recovery from square one.

All is not lost if you do slip on your road to recovery. If you do slip, contact your recovery counselor and reach out to your support group for advice on how not to slip again. Social support can bring you back from the brink of a full-blown relapse and help you fend off any feelings of guilt or shame that might accompany the slip. Talk to your counselor and take stock of the circumstances that led to the slip. Again, were you under an undue amount of stress or looking for a reward for your good behavior. Were you getting impatient or bored with your recovery program? Did friends who weren’t fully on board with your recovery program encourage you to have a drink? You should avoid these conditions as your recovery continues in order to avoid further slips.

You should never think of a slip or a relapse as a normal or expected part of your rehab and recovery program. If you do consider slips and relapses to be normal, you are only creating an excuse for any slip or relapse that you experience. You can too easily rationalize your activity by saying that everyone cheats and slips once or twice during recovery. You need to take full responsibility for your recovery and any slipping or cheating that happens during your recovery. One slip can easily lead to another and another, and before long you may find that you’ve abandoned all efforts to make a full and long-lasting recovery.

Slipping and relapsing are not confined to recovering from drug and alcohol, but they are common to all behavioral addiction problems, including overeating, gambling addiction and excessive attachment to social media.

If you are in an addiction recovery program but you’ve experienced one or two slips back to your addictive behavior, please contact our staff at Hired Power at 800-910-9299 at your earliest convenience. We can help you to avoid further slips and to get your recovery back on track before it erodes into a full relapse.

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