Relapse is more than just using alcohol or drugs. It is the progressive process of becoming so dysfunctional in recovery that self-medication with alcohol or drugs seems like a reasonable choice.

The relapse process is a lot like going a little insane. The first thoughts that were not ok yesterday are ok today.  I tell a lie about something and I feel smart about getting away with it.  I stroke my Ego and tell myself how cool I am.  I look at some porno on my computer and self-pleasure around it.   Then I suppress the guilt and bury it deep inside where it will surface and return to bite me when I am feeling down.   I start putting off paying that bill, I leave the unwashed dishes in the sink, and I wear the same clothes as yesterday and don’t take a shower.  The sequence of problems that lead from stable sobriety to relapse are similar to negative behaviours. There are two differences. First, each negative behaviour  (i.e. each problem unsolved brings us closer to substance use) gets a little bigger and heavier until it over-whelms us and we lose our faith in recovery and begin thinking “what’s this all for anyway” and apathy sets in.  I allow myself to become bored and I stop doing the do things, I don’t call a friend or my sponsor. I lay around feeling sorry for my-self.

So here we are moving along in recovery and we begin to allow ourselves to go out of control and we develop the devil may care attitude and anything can and will happen. So now we need to make the pain go away and we reach for old reliable – the magical substances that always helped us out with pain and confusion in the past. We’ve now started drinking and drugging just a little, our denial helps us out here.

The answer to avoiding relapse is not to take up becoming superman or superwoman.  Part of the answer is to learn self-awareness.  To watch for the change in attitude and behaviour.  To keep doing the do things, clean where you live, keep you and your clothes clean.  Pay attention to boredom.  Step out of it when it happens.  Look for some volunteering  to fill in your time when you are job hunting   Another part of the answer is to develop an emergency plan for stopping the chain reaction quickly, before you lose control and everything  becomes unmanageable.  Then if it does get on the phone and talk it out and back into your recovery.  Relapse behaviour is just a problem to be solved.

12Jul 2017

Lead by an experienced Addictions Counsellor, the groups include such discussion topics as: Understanding Relapse (how it happens and how to avoid it) Personality of an Addicted (tolerance, anxiety, grandiosity) Relapse Warning Signs (attitude & behavior changes, H.A.L.T.) Setting Goals for Relapse Prevention The sessions are held every Thursday afternoon at 2:30 p.m. in our […]

12May 2017

I personally hate dealing with conflict! It makes me feel extremely uncomfortable and like my skin is crawling. I would rather just ignore it or change everything. I had a very bad outlook on life and thought that people were generally useless stupid and selfish creatures who only cared for themselves. Although I am not […]

12May 2017

Commitments, who needs them? Well as it turns out, to have a successful life everyone does. In my life before recovery I had no problem making commitments to other people and following through with them. I needed people to like me and feel like I was useful and I could only do that through the […]

30Aug 2016
thoughts on gratitude after addiction recovery

Every once in a while, I forget to be grateful for what I have gained this past year in recovery and the people who have given me continued support.  I admit it is still easy for me to focus on the negative instead of the positive. One day this past week, I sat down and […]

04Jul 2016
Finding Happiness

Coming into recovery gives all of us a chance to turn our lives around. It certainly did for me. For a long time, alcohol was the only thing that made me happy or gave me any sense of comfort. Of course, it was only a temporary, fleeting happiness. Once I got sober, I had to […]

27Jun 2016
work hard and stay humble after recovering from addiction

It is very easy for those of us in recovery to forget where we came from – we can sometimes have a very short memory.  We suddenly forget how we started our lives in recovery – and those people who helped us along the way. Some of us can even let our ego make us […]

22Jun 2016
recovery takes time

Thinking back, I realize how easy it was to be on what we in recovery call “the pink cloud”.  This had something of a positive affect – it drove my excitement and confidence in returning to a sober life. I also knew that the enthusiasm I had could be a double-edged sword, because it could […]

10Jun 2016
now vs then after addiction recovery

My journey in recovery began a year ago.  The feelings I had then were ones of despair and depression.  Thankfully, I became convinced that returning to treatment was the only answer.  During this first year, I have had a healthy fear of relapse coupled with a very strong desire to maintain my sobriety.  I have […]

09Jun 2016
Man standing alone on the end of a jetty, looking over a foggy lake.

A lot of people in recovery have an unhealthy habit of isolating – I know I did.  We do this for many reasons.  We may feel shame or guilt for our behaviours when we were drinking or using, we may fear being around people, places and things that could trigger our addiction, or we may […]