Are Workaholics Also Alcoholics?

Longer Hours = More Drinking

A new paper, published in the British Medical Journal, suggests there’s a link between working long hours and heavy drinking.

overwork and heavy drinking

Sounds kind of obvious, right? The longer you work, the more tired and stressed you are. For many people, the solution to this stress is alcohol. Speaking from personal experience, alcohol and drugs were my answer to stress, and most everything else, for many years!

Well, now there’s science to back up this common sense truth. The longer and harder you work at a job that raises your stress level, the more prone you are to drink to excess. What’s more, these new findings show that gender, race, and economic status don’t factor in at all. Rather, it’s a one-to-one relationship between hours worked and alcohol intake.

Marianna Virtanen, the author of the paper and leader of the study, had the following to say about the link between overworking and overdrinking:

“…these findings suggests that some people may be prone to coping with excess working hours by habits that are unhealthy, in this case by using alcohol above the recommended limits” (Voice Chronicle).

So, what exactly does this study tell us? What are the new facts?

Work Hard & Play Hard

Scientists from the Finnish Institute of Occupational Health, located in beautiful Helsinki (hello, can I get a job there!), studied date from more than 330,000 people across fourteen different countries.

Their findings show that people who work for forty-eight or more hour per week are 11% more likely to drink heavily. That’s a rather large increase! Heavy drinking is defined as men having twenty-one or more drinks per week and women having fourteen or more drinks per week.

Backpacking off this new research, Cassandra Okechukwu, of the Harvard School of Public Health, estimated that there are two million people drinking heavily due to work. Again, that’s a lot of people driven to the bottle for no reason other than working long hours!

What this study doesn’t take into account are rates of alcoholism. Remember, heavy drinking and alcoholism are two different beasts altogether. So, if working long hours makes you 11% more likely to engage in heavy drinking – how much does it contribute to alcoholism?

That, my dear readers, is a conversation for another time. For now, let’s look at some of the dangers of heavy drinking.

Dangers of Heavy Drinking

Okay, this part is fairly obvious. Drinking to excess brings with it some significant dangers. This is true of heavy drinking, binge drinking, alcoholism, or mixing alcohol and other drugs.

Health problems common to heavy drinking include: heart disease, liver issues (including chronic Hepatitis), kidney problems, alcohol poisoning (overdose), increased risk of stroke, increased risk of cancer, drunk driving, unsafe sexual practices, and other negligent behavior.

Is There a Solution?

Here we reach the crux of the new research. Is there a solution to heavy drinking brought on by working forty-eight plus hours per week? Unfortunately, the research and resulting paper don’t suggest a solution. Rather, they state:

“Further research is needed to assess whether preventive interventions against risky alcohol use could benefit from information on working hours” (Voice Chronicle).

alcohol and work

So, I’d like to suggest my own solutions. First, stop stressing out over work! This is much easier said than done, however it’s absolutely possible for everyone. If work is stressing you out, instead of turning to booze you can try meditation, journaling, talk therapy, other forms of therapy, or even talking with friends.

Second, if you find yourself drinking to excess, seek help! Don’t stay stuck in the cycle of drinking, feeling guilty, working, getting stressed, and drinking more! Trust me, it’s a hard cycle to break, but it’s 100% possible to come out the other side.

Think about it like this – if I can get sober, then anyone can get sober. If I can stop drinking to excess, then anyone can stop drinking to excess. This is true of people who drink due to work, stress, family issues, or anything else.

Finally, I’d like to suggest adopting a spiritual way of living. This is wonderful for living a life that’s productive, happy, and stress free. Once again, it’s hard to live based on spiritual principles, but the benefits far outweigh the challenges and work involved.

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Be Proud of Yourself & Be Proud of Your Sobriety!

Breaking the Stigma

It’s possible to break our anonymity in such a way that we don’t harm the various twelve-step fellowships we belong to. In fact, it’s possible to break our anonymity in such a way that not only are we not harming twelve-step fellowships, but we’re also helping the still sick and suffering.

Isn’t that what recovery is all about? Helping those who are struggling with active addiction? Helping those who can’t, come hell or high water, put down the bottle, the pipe, the syringe?

It was made clear to me very early on that my primary purpose in life was to help those struggling with drugs and alcohol. It doesn’t matter how busy I am. It doesn’t matter what else I have to do. It doesn’t matter if I don’t feel like it. If someone reaches out, I need to always be there to help.

breaking the stigma of addiction

So, with all that in mind, the question becomes how can I help people the best? How can I be of service to the still sick and suffering addict or alcoholic the best?

I’ve come to the conclusion that the best way to help those struggling with addiction, this entire planet’s worth of active addicts, is to break my anonymity. It’s to proclaim from the metaphorical rooftops that I’m a sober woman. It’s to shout at the top of my lungs that yes, I’ve recovered and yes, you can too.

Consider this my coming out, of sorts. I’m an addict in recovery. I’m a sober alcoholic. I’m a self-harmer who hasn’t seen light shine off a blade in years. I’m an eating disorder survivor. I’m depressed but still get out of bed each morning. I’m anxious but still talk to strangers. I’m mentally ill but still take my meds.

Of course, I’m not all of those things, but I might as well be. I’m many of them and the one’s that I’m not, well, I can identify with. The important part is the fact that I’m just like you. Yes, you. You reading this right now. I’m just like you.

I’ve felt the same despair and the same hope. I’ve celebrated and mourned the same things. I’ve been through the same impossible situations. It doesn’t matter if my impossible situations were different in the details than yours. We’re the same.

And, more importantly than anything else I’ve said so far, we can recover. At time it might not seem like it. At times it might seem like we’re doomed to die from our demons, or, even worse, to live with them. But I promise you that’s not the case. I promise you we can recover.

I’ll leave you with a quote that I can’t seem to stop thinking about. It’s from an essay I recently read about addiction and recovery.

The author, David Cohen, is the clinical director for one of the oldest and most respected rehabs in the country. He’s many years my senior. He been educated, I’m sure, at the country’s top schools. He’s a man and I’m a woman. Despite all of that, we’re the same.

We’re the same because we’ve both survived the same disease. A disease of our thinking and a disease of our actions. A disease of dishonesty. A disease that tries its hardest to appear to be anything but a disease. I’m talking, of course, about the disease of addiction.

So, enjoy David Cohen’s words. I certainly did. They triggered something in me that I can’t quite place my finger on. Read them and remember that we can all change!

“It is due time that the recovery community mobilizes to haul addiction out from the depths of dark basements, and into the light of the open and evolving nature of our society. I am proud to be in recovery. I am grateful everyday that I am free from the crippling grips of active addiction. Now is a time for all of us to spread the message of hope and healing to others who are still suffering. No longer should we glamorize addiction, nor should we oust the addicted individual from society, but rather we should join with the force of the current recovery movement to rejoice and celebrate the very human journeys of recovery that continue to emerge among us” (Huffington Post).

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Vanilla Ice We Can Help!

By Tim Myers

vanilla ice arrested

All right stop, stealing stuff and listen

I’m gonna tell you about an old invention
Something that took a hold of me tightly
Saved my life and I go to them nightly

Will AA ever stop? Hell no
They turned on my lights now I glow
To the extreme I’m a sober man not a vandal
I light up the world and wax drugs like a candle

Damn drugs made my car go boom
I used eat those poisonous mushrooms
I was deadly when I played dope like a melody
All I had left was a shiny new felony
Don’t love it, just leave it and stay away
You better do sometin’ get help today

You definitely have a problem, yo I’ll solve it
Change you life before drugs dissolve it!

Get help now baby, get help now baby
Get help now baby, get help now baby

Now that your jail cell is jumpin’
With the hand cuffs on your heart be pumpin’
Lets get to the point, to the point stop faking
Your brain is fried like a pound of bacon

Burning it quick, quick and nimble
Get help now it’s really that simple
Let us help you out, and change the tempo
Your way didn’t work, you tried it solo

Rollin, cops said lets go
You can’t steal stuff and you can’t do blow
Recovery’s on stand by, trying to say hi
Do you ever stop? No you just drive by
Kept on using till the next stop
You get busted and head to the cellblock

You definitely have a problem, yo I’ll solve it
Change your life before drugs dissolve it!

Get help now baby, get help now baby
Get help now baby, get help now baby

Take heed, ’cause I’m a recovery poet
the cops on the scene just in case you didn’t know it
My town is full of the sober sound
Enough to shake the drugs and get on firm ground

‘Cause recovery’s like a chemical spill
it will give you vision and teach you to feel
Keep your composure when you finally get loose
get Magnetized by God and you’ll kick the juice

You definitely have a problem, yo I’ll solve it
Change your life before drugs dissolve it!

Get help now baby, get help now baby
Get help now baby, get help now baby

Yo, man, let’s get out of here! Word to your mother!

No really you should send word to your actual mother.
Write her a letter and tell her you need help.

Get help now baby, get help now baby
Get help now baby, get help now baby

Get help now baby, right now, right now.
Get help now baby, right now, right now.
Get help now baby, get help now baby

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The Importance of Women’s Meetings

Why Should I Go to Women’s Meetings?

While I could write an entire article about women’s meetings (and this is that article!), the main benefit of attending a female only twelve-step meeting is simple and obvious – less distraction!

Simply put, boys distract us from seeking God. They distract us from working on ourselves. They distract us from seeking and implementing spiritual principles in our lives. Basically, boys distract us!

women only meetings

And it’s not only their fault! I’m certainly at fault here. I’d much rather talk to a cute guy than listen to reasons prayer is so vital. I’d much rather daydream about that surfer boy sitting in front of me than learn why resentments are the number one offender.

Plus, I think it’s the same for men. While I can’t be 100% sure, I’m pretty certain they’re the same way. After all, wouldn’t a guy rather flirt with me (!) than work on himself? Wouldn’t a guy rather flirt with any woman than taking a look at himself?

Guys – if you’re reading this, weigh in!

So, why should we go to women’s only meetings? First off, to learn what sobriety’s really about! Gender-specific meetings offer a few other benefits too. Find out what they are below!

Strong Sober Supports

Yes, men can be sober supports. I know my phone is full of guy’s numbers, strictly platonic, that I can call at anytime of the day if I need help. Still, for me, having guys as sober supports isn’t as good as having women.

So, at women’s only meetings, we can build strong sober supports. We make friendships that can last for the rest of our lives. We meet women who, through the miraculous workings of a God of our own understanding, have been through the exact same situations as us.

I know the first time I heard a women share something that had happened to me, that I thought I was alone in dealing with, my jaw hit the ground. I was shocked. Was she reading my mind? Nope. It turns out that alcoholics are pretty similar.

Side bar – that woman who shared my exact experience? She ended up being my first sponsor. God is good, my friends.

A Space for Victims of Abuse

Emotional, physical, and sexual abuse aren’t uncommon for women in recovery. I now I’ve certainly experienced them firsthand. So, for women in early-sobriety and beyond to have a safe space is absolutely vital.

Going to women’s only meetings provides this much needed space of safety and security.

We Can Share Openly

Imagine if you started to share about something personal, and when I say personal I mean personal, and you saw a boy making eyes at you from across the room! That wouldn’t be cool! It would make me feel uncomfortable, embarrassed, and like I couldn’t share openly.

Here, we reach one of the main reasons that we need female only meetings – they offer the privacy to share openly and honestly. The entire twelve-step recovery foundation is based on honesty. It’s the spiritual principle behind the first step!

So, imagine if we couldn’t speak honestly! It would stink. Thankfully, we have women’s meetings. For those of you lucky enough to be located in a “recovery hotspot” like south Florida, you even have hundreds of women’s meetings a day!

And that, my friends, is pretty priceless!

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Relapse Isn’t Part of Recovery

Relapse Isn’t Mandatory

I recently stumbled across an amazing article on Huffington Post. It was an examination of relapse, recovery, and how normalizing relapse doesn’t benefit anyone – addict or family.

relapse isnt part of recovery

The author, Candace Plattor, is a clinical counselor and an individual in long-term recovery. She’s been sober for over twenty-seven years! That’s pretty impressive! She’s been sober for longer than I’ve been alive! Rock on, Candace!

I found her essay moving because it speaks to something that any woman, or any man for that matter, in recovery can attest to – the prevalence of relapse and the increasingly relaxed attitude surrounding it.

Now don’t get me wrong, relapse happens and we should treat those who slip with love and compassion. Lord knows I’ve relapsed before. If those in recovery hadn’t reached out and offered me a hand back up, I don’t know if I’d be here today.

That being said, I think Candace makes some good points. I think she’s offering a new way of thinking (which is really a throwback to an old way!) about relapse, recovery, and the struggle to stay sober one day at a time.

The Power of Willingness

One of the first points Candace makes, and something I’ve experienced firsthand, is that we need a great deal of willingness to get and stay sober. I can attest this is absolutely true! What’s more, I bet most of you reading can attest to the same thing.

I needed the willingness to check myself into treatment. I needed the willingness to get a sponsor. I needed the willingness to work the twelve-steps honestly and thoroughly. I needed the willingness to face my issues and work on them. I needed the willingness for a million other things as well.

Candace writes, “A huge part of that choice to get help and stay in recovery was that I had to be willing to learn how to face a life that wasn’t very pleasant without the use of mind-altering drugs” (Huffington Post).

That willingness didn’t come easy! It was only when everything else, including drugs and booze, had stopped working that I found it. I know I lacked any level of willingness in some of my halfhearted early attempts at sobriety.

Guess what happened during those attempts? I relapsed. I returned to opiates and alcohol because I wasn’t willing to do the work. I wasn’t willing to face the pain. Were my relapses required, though? Were they necessary parts of my sobriety?

Absolutely not!

Sobriety Isn’t Easy but It Isn’t Impossible

Another point that Candace touches on is how sobriety can oftentimes be incredibly difficult. Once again, raise your hand if you’ve experienced that yourself. Everyone’s hand is up? That’s what I thought!

While Candace struggles with Crohn’s Disease, I’ve struggled with mental health issues like anxiety and depression. I think any alcoholic, if they take a moment to reflect, can come up with a handful of serious issues they’ve struggled with in sobriety.

Now, oftentimes these struggles can be easy excuses for relapse. They can be an easy way to avoid facing the pain mentioned above. Fortunately, they don’t have to be.

Candace writes,

“That was an amazingly difficult time in my life, but the inner strength and self-respect I gained from that experience…have made me the person I am today, a person who’s proud of herself and knows she can handle the tough times. I’m grateful for that, and I’d love it if we could all feel that way about ourselves” (Huffington Post).

I love that! It’s so true that we gain strength, faith, and inner-love from facing and overcoming the challenges of life. It’s sort of like that saying “if you want self-esteem, do esteem-able acts.” If you want inner-strength, flex your God-muscle and face your demons!

Relapse is a Choice

Something I personally tend to forget is the simple fact that, for someone who’s gone through the steps, relapse is a choice. It’s nothing more and nothing less. For someone who’s had the obsession to drug and drink removed, picking up a drug or a drink is a conscious choice.

In her essay, Candace touches on this. She says,

“It’s absolutely up to the addict, whichever way they go in terms of staying abstinent or not — millions of clean and sober addicts show us every day that relapse is NOT a normal, expected part of recovery…” (Huffington Post).

Now, it’s important to remember this isn’t true for women who haven’t had the obsession removed! In early-sobriety, relapse often happens because the mental obsession returns and we have to drink. It’s not a choice, but rather a manifestation of the “strange mental blank spots” the book talks about.

relapse and sobriety

Once we’ve gone through the steps, though, and had a spiritual awakening, relapse becomes 100% a choice. It’s at this point that personal responsibility and culpability enter the picture. It’s at this point that being of service to those who need it becomes of the utmost importance!

What do you think about relapse not being a required part of recovery? Let us know on social media!

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AA is a Cult: One Woman’s Thoughts Before Joining 12-Step Recovery

Is AA a Cult?

Before getting sober, I wanted nothing to do with Alcoholics Anonymous, Narcotics Anonymous, or any other twelve-step fellowship. I was convinced meetings were some sort of cult ritual and everyone in the rooms was a brainwashed zombie. Of course, this couldn’t be further from the truth!

is aa a cult

Still, I’ve heard this complaint come up time and time again. Before entering the rooms of recovery, most addicts and alcoholics don’t think very highly of twelve-step principles. And why should they? Twelve-step principles are a complete one hundred and eighty degrees from how we live our lives in active addiction.

There are a million and a half reasons addicts and alcoholics think AA is a cult. I’ll explore some common myths, and why they’re completely false, below. First, though, I’d like to make the bold declaration that twelve-step recovery saved my life. More importantly, it gave me a life that’s so amazing, so indescribably wonderful, that sometimes I have to pinch myself to make sure I’m not dreaming.

That should be enough to make anyone give meetings a chance. If it isn’t, well, keep on reading!

I Have to Go to Meetings Forever?

Those still in active addiction tend to make this a huge sticking point. I know I did. I was convinced that going to meetings forever was the worst possible thing that could happen to me.

Here’s a newsflash – you don’t have to go to meetings forever! You only have to go to one meeting a day. I’m living my life one day at a time. I have no idea if I’ll go to meetings in twenty years, but I do know I’m going to one tonight.

Plus, I’ll let you all in on this little secret that people with long-term sobriety don’t like to share. Are you ready? Going to meetings rocks! Where else can I share the most off the wall stuff and have people clap for me and love me?

I Have to Believe in God?

No, you don’t have to believe in God. In fact, you don’t have to believe in anything you don’t want to.

However, if you want to stay sober, you should probably talk to some AA members about a Higher Power. You’ll soon learn that a Higher Power can be absolutely anything you want it to be.

So, find something you’re comfortable with like nature or the ocean. That’s your Higher Power right there. Pretty easy, right?

People in AA are Weirdly Happy All the Time

Yeah, of course people in twelve-step groups are happy all the time! We’ve been saved from death and active alcoholism. We’ve been saved from a life that isn’t a life at all. We’ve gone from existing to living.

Wouldn’t you be happy if those things happened to you? No, we’re not weirdly happy because we’re in a cult. We’re weirdly happy because our lives are amazing. You should try it out sometime.

Isn’t Sober Life Boring?

12 step recovery is weird

Want to know some of thoughts about sober life from before I got sober? They went something like – “Oh man, how will I be able to live without going to parties?” or “I can’t imagine talking to boys without drinking a little first.”

I thought that drugs and alcohol made life exciting. They replaced the fear inside of me with false confidence. With this false confidence, I thought life was exciting.

It turns out that life was actually pretty boring. I mean, you tell me which of the following is more exciting. Going kayaking in the ocean with a few good friends or sitting in a room, smoking weed, and watching Comedy Central for eight hours?

Go ahead, which is more exciting? That’s what I thought.

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I Am Enough

A Poem For Those Struggling

I found this wonderful poem floating around the internet the other day. I wanted to share it with all you amazing women recovering from a hopeless state of mind and body.

recovery is possible

Together, we are enough. Together, I am enough.

I Am Enough

I am enough to make it
Through the night. I am enough
To make it through the day.
No matter my struggles
And I have many struggles
I know I’ll be OK.
I don’t give in, I believe and have faith.
I am enough.

You are enough to make it
Through anything. You are enough
To live through anything.
You don’t have to be perfect
And it doesn’t matter if you are smart
Just open your eyes and open your heart.
Find the strength and peace
That we have inside our chests.
Believe that it will stay there
Until your very last breath.
You are enough.

We are enough to make it
Through the highs and make it
Through the lows. We are enough
To make it through the dark sky
And the nights when tears fly.
Don’t give up I promise you
It gets better
and our dreams come true.
We are enough.

I am enough to make it
Through drugs, heartbreak and pain.
I am enough to make it
Through the cold and pouring rain.
I am enough to make it
Through anything with you my friend.
I am enough to make it
Because this is only the beginning it isn’t the end.

–Author Unknown

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One Step to a Better Life!

Attitude is Everything

Want to know when in my life I was happiest? The answer might surprise you! I was happiest in early-sobriety while living in a halfway house.

positive attitude

Now don’t get me wrong, my life since getting sober has been nothing short of amazing. I’ve gotten to experience all sorts of things I never thought would happen. I’ve been blessed with friends, family, significant others, and a wonderful God. I’ve gotten to travel, to have amazing jobs, and to grow as a woman.

In other words, I truly have a life beyond my wildest dreams!

Still, there was something about early-sobriety and the simplicity of life that stands out. There was something about that period that makes me gooey with nostalgia. Life was simple, easy, and above all else, amazing!

I think it had something to do with my attitude!

Making the Most of What You Have

My attitude was what made this period in my life so wonderful. I was practicing gratitude like never before. I was taking unselfish and constructive action on a daily basis. I was giving instead of taking. Guess what? By giving, I received more than I ever imagined.

Now, there’s a whole debate (which I’ve participated in!) about how gratitude is steeped in action. Let’s set that aside for a moment and simply look at how gratitude changed my life!

The True Meaning of Gratitude

I was nineteen years old and living successfully on my own for the first time ever. I was coming off a one-year relapse. Prior to that year, I’d had almost six months sober. Prior to those six months, I’d been drugging and drinking for seven years.

So, being sober alone was enough to instill gratitude and humility in little old me! I was so grateful for a bed to sleep on, a pillow to lay my head on, and an air conditioner to keep me cool. I was so grateful for my roommates, friends who would answer their phones, and the ability to set past mistakes right. I was so grateful for my sponsor, my sober supports, and my new twelve-step family!

I was even grateful for my responsibilities. That’s something I tend to forget today. I was so excited to do step-work, to go to my job, and to go to school. Today, these things sometimes seem like a chore. In early-sobriety, though, they were blessings of the highest order.

I think that’s why I look back at this period as the happiest in my life. Now, I’d again like to say that my life today is beyond my wildest dreams. It’s truly amazing. Still, there’s always going to be a special place in my heart for those early days spent living in a halfway house.

There’s always going to be a special place in my heart for meeting with my sponsor, scared out of my mind to be completely honest, and walking away feeling light and free. That’s something special, my friends, it really is.

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How Do You Switch Sponsors?

My Experience Switching Sponsors

My first sponsor had around six months when she started taking me through the twelve-steps. Despite not having a ton of time, she’d been through her steps, had a spiritual experience, and was ready to spread a message of hope and recovery.

switching sponsors

We didn’t have that much in common, aside from both being alcoholics. She was much older than I was, although at nineteen almost everyone was much older than I was! She taught Social Studies and coached baseball at a local high school. She was married. She had money in the bank.

I could continue this list, but I think you all get the idea. We were brought together by the twelve-steps and the need to live our lives on spiritual principles. She began to take me through the steps. Six months later, I’d finished my steps and she’d picked up her one-year medallion.

It was around this time, when I started sponsoring women, that I began to think about switching sponsors. Don’t get me wrong, my original sponsor saved my life. I’m going to spend the rest of my days working off that debt by helping other women.

Still, we didn’t have much in common. I wanted a sponsor that was closer to my age and had similar experiences, both in active addiction and recovery. So I started “shopping around” as my friends call it.

On the Hunt for a New Sponsor

All of a sudden, meetings took on a whole new meaning. Not only was I going to spread the message of recovery, I was also going to see what other women had to say. Of course, that’d always been one reason for meetings, but now it took on a new importance.

I reached out, got a ton of phone numbers, and put together a list of potential sponsors. I prayed, meditated, and asked God for guidance. I also ran some of my potential ideas by another alcoholic.

God works in mysterious ways, my friends! Guess who I ended up asking to sponsor me? The woman I ran my list by! I’m getting ahead of myself though.

I called this woman up and we talked for a couple of hours. She gave me a piece of advice that’s stuck with my ever since. This is also the advice that made me realize she was the perfect sponsor for me.

She said, “Whoever you pick, make sure they’re someone who’s always been there for you in the past.” That was God talking to me through another alcoholic! That was what I’d been praying and meditating for. Those were the words I’d been waiting to hear.

Actually Switching Sponsors

After we got off the phone, I said another prayer. I then called the woman who’d taken my through the steps. I was so nervous! I thought she was going to be angry and never talk to me again!

how do I switch sponsors

It turns out, like most things in sobriety, that I was up in my head for nothing. She completely understood and even acknowledged some of what I’d been thinking. We ended the phone call closer than we’d been previously! God certainly does work in mysterious ways.

I then called my new sponsor (though she didn’t know it yet!) and asked her to sponsor me. She said yes and the rest, as they say, was history. That was almost six years ago and I haven’t looked back since.

I heard a simple and profound saying early in my recovery. It went something like “if you don’t think you have the best sponsor in the world, you picked the wrong woman.”

I’ve been blessed in my sobriety with two amazing sponsors. What more can a girl ask for?

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Stepping Over the Bodies: Relapse & Recovery

What Do I Do If a Loved One Relapses?

Relapse is a part of recovery. It’s an unfortunate part, but a part nonetheless. It’s like the sky being blue, grass being green, or Taco Bell being the tastiest fast food. Addicts and alcoholics relapse. It’s that simple.

So, what happens when someone close to us relapses? It could be a family member, friend, roommate, significant other, sober support, or even a sponsor. What happens to us when they pick up that drink? What are our options?

what happens when a loved one relapses

This is a selfish way of looking at things, but an absolutely vital one to preserve our own sobriety! This goes double if you’re in early-sobriety when a loved one relapses.

What do we do? Find some of my (hard won) advice below. I hope it helps!

Limit Contact

This one’s kind of obvious, but limit your contact with a relapsing loved one! Now, this might be hard depending on who it is that decided to pick up a drink or drug. It’s one thing to limit contact with a friend, it’s a whole other thing to limit contact with a significant other!

If it’s at all possible, don’t spend as much time with them. See them only in social settings. Don’t hang out with them late into the night. Take these general precautions to protect your own sobriety!

These might sound harsh, but remember – it’s easier for a relapsing loved one to take us out, than it is for us to get them back into the rooms.

Don’t See Them Alone

This goes along with limiting contact. Don’t hang out with your relapsing loved one alone!

I know what you’re thinking. “But So and So loves me! He or she would never use around me. I’ll be fine!” Guess what? You’re probably right. 99% of the time you will be fine. It’s that 1% that makes seeing a relapsing loved one alone dangerous.

Remember, you’re dealing with the disease of addiction and alcoholism. It overwhelms us all. It doesn’t matter how much your loved one cares about you. If they’re drinking and drugging, all that love goes out the window. That’s just how it is.

Seek Professional Help

Seeking professional help can take a few different forms depending on who in your life relapsed.

Let’s say it’s your significant other. Well, then seeking professional help could include going to marriage therapy, going to couples therapy, joining a support group like Al-Anon, or simply placing your loved one in treatment.

Let’s say it’s a friend that relapsed. If that’s the case, seeking professional help could take the form of attending a support group, going to more twelve-step meetings, or even planning an intervention (with an interventionist, of course!).

Let’s say it’s a family member. In this case, maybe you should attend family therapy. Whatever form it takes, don’t be afraid to turn to the professionals. After all, there’s a reason they’re called professionals!

Encourage Them!

This might also be kind of common sense, but I see it get neglected a lot! Remember, your loved one is in a lot of emotional, mental, and spiritual pain. They’re drinking, using, and engaging in harmful and selfish behavior. They could use some kind words!

So, if someone close to you starts drinking or drugging, tell them some of the things your sponsor tells you. It’ll help more than you know.

Pray For Them

relapse and recovery

And here we’ve reached the most important thing (in my humble opinion anyway!) you can do for a loved one who’s relapsing. Pray for them! It’s that simple.

Alcoholism and addiction are diseases of powerlessness. Addicts and alcoholics are powerless over drugs and booze. They’re powerless to say no. They need something more powerful than they are to help.

That’s where a God of our own understanding enters the picture. This God is much more powerful than any drug or drink.

So, say a prayer for your loved one. It’s one of the simplest, and most powerful, things we can do!

Powerd by Lighthouse Recovery Institute: Leaders in Gender Specific Addiction Treatment.
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