Relapse: A Four Letter Word
I want to share my experience with relapsing. I’m kind of an expert! I relapsed a bunch of times before I finally got sober for good.
It’s frustrating and confusing to deal with relapse, both for the addict and their loved ones. Pay attention now, ’cause I’m going to let you in on a secret! You relapsed? Your child relapsed? Your significant other relapsed? It’s not the end of the world. There’s hope. There’s always hope! We shouldn’t ever give up on ourselves. Our loved ones certainly don’t.
Our loved ones don’t understand though. My parents, and pretty much everyone else, couldn’t understand why I kept relapsing. I hope my experience can benefit everyone seeking a better understanding of relapse.
So, Why Did I Relapse?
It’s hard to keep focus and hope in the face of repeated relapses. Trust me, I know this as well as anyone. Still, it’s important to remain confident that this time you’re going to stay sober! We learn from each relapse. Rather than looking at them as set-backs, we should view them as learning experiences. I’ve certainly come to view them this way. Each of my relapses took me one step closer to getting sober for good. I gained knowledge, and learned much needed lessons, each time I used.
Obviously, I still had a lot to learn. Still, each and every relapse brought me closer to learning what I needed. To put it another way, I relapsed multiple times because I still had something to learn from my addiction. I had to learn how to deal with emotional pain caused by difficult situations and traumatic memories. The more I used over these things, the more I realized that using wasn’t the answer!
I had to relapse again and again for this knowledge to be burned into my consciousness. After all, as an addict, I’m sort of an expert at fooling myself! I had to learn to get honest, with others and myself. I heard this over and over at meetings, but never internalized it.
My relapses reinforced the simple fact that drugs weren’t worth it. What was it? My life, sanity, health, and family. Drugs weren’t worth all that. Each time I used, this belief became stronger and stronger until, finally, I couldn’t deny it any longer.
Other Reasons I Relapsed
Another reason I used over and over, despite the negative consequences, is because I wasn’t strong enough yet. I built the strength and resolve to stay sober through every mistake I made. Each relapse took me closer to my bottom.
See, I had to really hit bottom. I had to hit my bottom. It didn’t matter what anyone else thought, said, or did, until I was at bottom, I wasn’t going to have the resolve to stay sober. Until I did something I said I’d never do, I wasn’t done. Until I crossed that line, I wasn’t done. Now, don’t get me wrong, I crossed a lot of lines in my addiction. That final line though? For some reason that one really hit home. It made me realize just how painful addiction is.
I can’t quite explain why this was different than my other stupid decisions. I’m not sure if it was just an accumulation of all the crap I’d done up to that point. I’m not sure if it was just the final straw. I am sure that we all have to find that one moment that’s our own bottom. We have to face changing or losing ourselves forever.
Relapse made me understand there was NO controlling my use. If I said I could control it, I was only fooling myself. Relapsing didn’t mean I’d never get sober, it just made me a stronger person from the lessons learned. So, please, don’t lose hope! Keep trying and take with you the lessons from each relapse!