Written By: Fiona Stockard
Why Do Women In Recovery Relapse?
Relapse is too often a part of women’s recovery stories. This doesn’t have to be the case though! It’s possible for addicts to go a lifetime without relapsing!
Even if a woman in recovery does relapse, hope isn’t lost. In fact, valuable lessons can be learned after relapsing! We can take our slip and turn it into a stronger, more vigorous, program of spiritual action!
The Top 5 Reasons Why Women Relapse:
While we’re in our active addictions, we’re usually using or drinking to suppress negative emotions. One of these is stress. Raise your hand if you like stress. I don’t see any hands!
Early recovery isn’t easy. Staying sober is overwhelming. Finding and keeping a job is overwhelming. Making sober friends is overwhelming. Life is overwhelming! Working a strong recovery program (aka being spiritually fit) provides us with the foundation and support network we need. Without this support, it’s easy to deal with stress in negative, harmful ways.
2) Not Changing People, Places, and Things
People– Being surrounded by old friends isn’t healthy. They may remind you of old habits, be negative towards your recovery, or just generally be assh**es. Hanging around old people is one of the easiest ways to justify a relapse. “Everyone else is drinking, why can’t I?,” you might ask yourself. To put it another way, people can change our motives and early-recovery is all about motives.
Places – Many women try to get sober in the same area they used in. This usually doesn’t work too well. It’s hard to stay sober when you know you can get high within five minutes. In early-recovery, it’s important to stay away from places that trigger strong thoughts of using.
Things – Getting rid of anything that reminds us of drinking or getting high is key! Holding onto paraphernalia and objects associated with active addiction isn’t a good idea. Imagine if someone kept a crack pipe with them during early-recovery. They’d probably end up smoking crack. Duh!
Holidays, celebrations, and family get-togethers are some of the happiest occasions around. However, for addicts in early-recovery, they can be tough to get through sober. I know I’ve been guilty of thinking “you mean I can’t drink on my wedding day? What kind of crap is this!”
Holidays and celebrations require a strong support system to get through. Without people to talk to, without an active spiritual connection, it’s easy to justify one glass of wine. We all know what just one glass of wine leads to!
Then there are funerals. Funerals are stressful, emotionally challenging, and plain-old suck! Who wants to deal with emotional pain when they could get high instead? Without an active and strong support systems, we can easily relapse into harmful behaviors.
In early-recovery, us addicts often swap addictions. Oh, you’re a pill addict? Well, now you’re codependent. I know that was true for me!
We reach for anything that makes us feel better. Getting into a relationship in early-sobriety is pretty dangerous. I mean, we hear it all the time! It’s commonly recommended to stay away from relationships (that means sex too!) until we’ve finished our steps. At that point, we’re spiritually fit and have a firm understanding on what’s appropriate and inappropriate.
One final reason to stay away from relationships in early-sobriety is that the people we seek out are usually sick. Imagine if you’re dating a boy and he relapses. It becomes that much easier to justify getting high with him.
5) Not Working a Program of Recovery
This is probably the biggest reason women, of all lengths of sobriety, relapse. Going to meetings, getting a sponsor, working the twelve-steps, and sponsoring other women, is a vital part of recovery. Hell, that is recovery!
Graduating a women’s treatment center is also pretty important. Us addicts are good at staring things, but pretty lousy at finishing them. Let’s finish something!
Going to treatment and working a program of recovery is what keeps women sober. Without these things, we’re often miserable and depressed, which makes getting high look like a pretty good option.
Although relapse in a part of many women’s stories, it doesn’t have to be! If you do relapse, hopefully you’ll learn some valuable lessons and make it back to the rooms of recovery. To avoid relapse, shut up and listen to the women who came before you! Take a few suggestions and grow into a woman of grace and dignity!