Surviving the success of Recovery
You may think that is a strange statement – “Surviving the Success of Recovery”, however it is something that those of us in recovery need to be aware of.
At times we will hear about alcoholics and addicts who have been sober for a long period of time and then go back out, as did Philip Seymour Hoffman. Back out means to go back to our drug of choice and essentially relapse.
Life gets good in Recovery
Once we addicts and alcoholics put down the drug of choice and embark on a sober program of recovery, life for most of us gets pretty good. Not only do our lives begin to get good again, often times they get really good with regard to success in work and business.
Alcoholics and addicts tend to have above average intelligence and are usually successful in many areas of life before their addiction takes over. Many will achieve great success in school, career and family life. When these achievements begin to erode is typically when an addiction treatment program is considered.
Life Before Recovery
Most addicts and alcoholics lives are shattered prior to getting sober. In fact, this is almost a necessary event that precipitates the realization of the futility of the situation, and then we seek treatment. This is called hitting bottom.
Some events that will qualify for hitting bottom include the loss of a job or business, the ending of a marriage, going to jail or being kicked out of school. Hitting bottom can also be emotional and having the feeling that one no longer wants to go on.
Why Success Can Precipitate a Relapse
As time in recovery passes and clarity returns, one day at a time lives are rebuilt. Success in business, school and family is pretty much the norm for most addicts working a life long recovery program.
Drivers licenses are acquired, debts are paid off, families are restored, homes are established and monetary success is achieved. These are the gifts of recovery, and if we are not careful we can easily forget that and this is when we need to be the most cautious.
Signs of Emotional Relapse
We are talking about an emotional relapse in recovery because if this happens and is not resolved, it can easily be taken to the next level which would be to pick up the old drug of choice.
Emotional relapses have many warning signs. Following are just a few and there are many more. One of the first things to go is a recovering person’s peace of mind. Where once this person was calm, happy and peaceful – they are now restless, irritable and discontent.
An attitude of gratitude has been replaced with a short fuse and in some cases an impatient sarcastic demeanor. Judgement starts to creep in and then ultimately they are drowning in fear. These feelings and actions are the antithesis of recovery and if not addressed can lead to a full blown relapse.
Recovery is A Process, Not an Event
Since recovery is a lifetime process, as we grow and change so will our recovery program. If we are experiencing any of the warning signs that accompany an emotional relapse we may or may not be aware of it. Hopefully we have some people in our close circle that can bring it to our attention. People who have known us before and during our recovery program will be the best at spotting these emotional changes.
When people tend to relapse it is not when circumstances are bad, it is when they are good!
Taking Care of Yourself
No one is immune to a relapse regardless of the amount of time they have been sober. Everyone in recovery whether they are 2 days, 5 years or 20 years sober are at the same distance from the cliff – so to speak. If we are experiencing any of the signs of having an emotional relapse we need to talk to someone, maybe in some cases even go back to treatment.
We should talk to our sponsor or someone else we trust and determine what it is that is contributing to these feelings in our life and make a plan to remedy them. In some cases significant changes may need to occur to preserve our sobriety. Whatever they may be, nothing is more important than our sobriety.