Again, you relapsed… addicted. After sobbing with guilt, regret and shame, you are face down on your knees, asking yourself: is addiction to blame for the conscious choice I have made?
Spring arrived along with temptation. There are people sitting in the park sipping their toxins. Others are on terraces drinking their glasses of deception. Up, right, down and left, nowhere else left to look; wherever you go out, it’s in your face. It’s in late summer nights and, in the flavour of the party, that perfumes your atmosphere. It resonates through your neighbour’s fence.
This “it”, it is an addiction.
It takes over, for you to make excuses and justify to yourself your next relapse. It says: alcohol should be banned in public places, in holiday advertising, in your daily routine but the world belongs to none and to all, so if you seek excuses, you’ll find them even alone in the desert. If addiction isn’t behind doors waiting for you to open and let it in, it will be under a grain of sand sucking at your vice, waiting for you to thirst.
Now, excuses mentally are prepared and in need of a draught. You open the door and you are convinced; relapse is inevitable. The platform to fall back on has been set up as you feel, it, is not a big deal.
For some, there is a purpose in it. That’s why they do it again, against their own desperate efforts. It is an attempt to reduce inner pain, a collection of frightening intense feelings ranging from rage, fear, anxiety and loneliness to emptiness and despair. Anesthesia is required to sooth this acquired nightmare, this inner turmoil that stems from a burned past that was intentionally or unconsciously, traumatizing. As is, a primitive bull, fighting to exit the arena of a crude matador; addiction is to ignore humanity.
How to prevent a relapse
Harmful substances are abused for self medicating reasons by those wishing to reduce inner turmoil without processing and dealing with emotions because they haven’t developed a healthy and natural mechanism to manage dark emotions, as much as light ones like, happiness and excitement.
As a substitute for this unhealthy defence mechanism, it’s recommended to call someone you trust, to join an addiction support group and simply take things one day at a time or even one minute at a time. Once a trigger has been activated in your mind, it’s often hard to think of anything or anyone else and therefore, this advice goes easily over your head.
It’s important to know your triggers and when you experience one and start to think about relapsing, you should consider carefully if you really want a slip back into self pity and self sabotaging mode. Then, remind yourself of their destination – towards the bridge that crosses over to chaos and destruction.
Since addiction is an obsessive desire greater than one’s willpower to resist it, it’s imperative to create an equally strong and powerful vision. A dream with a deep feeling attached to it and an aspiration that drives and motivates you enough to prevent you from relapsing.
Avoid boredom. Stay active, work, engage with interesting people and read information that stimulates your mind. Find a motive to move away from addiction and hang on to it with perseverance and consistency. Indulging in your passion provides a natural high and the inner peace that you crave.
You are powerful not powerless. Wallowing daily in self pity, convincing yourself that you are inflicted with an incurable disease, whilst reciting the twelve steps to validate your hopelessness and nodding to the fact that, only a power greater than yourself will save you from you, is an appealing, excuse. It’s a guilt free trip with an easy way out of your responsibility, post relapse.
Yes miracles called ‘moments of grace’ do happen, when you work at freeing yourself from addiction instead of brainwashing your ears with stories of powerlessness, and when instead of acting condemned, you believe that change is possible in the first place.
Addiction’s damaging compulsions have sharp hooks, they catch you silently twisting from deep within your gut, and no-one else aches from the same hooks the way you do. But Addiction: The beast, is yours to tame! The desire to exist in peace, happy and with purpose, is there just waiting to be released from within. Reaching into it is the difference between making the right decision and surrendering to the wrong choice. So, believe and value yourself and your power.
Break the shame. Ashamed; in secret you feel worthless. It’s unbearable looking at your own reflection and you live in dread of your defects being exposed. The burden won’t lift unless you share its guilt. In order to progress your life, air your lungs and fly above the burdening weight. Talk about letting go of the words that knot the present moment.
Credibility is lost as your excuses become lies. Flashbacks haunt your subconscious but your apologies can’t stick for things you don’t remember doing. A stern clown avoided, you hear the resume of the obscure scenes in which you played, the part that breaks hearts. But despite their difficulty and discomfort, mistakes are occasions to learn.
There is a powerful human being behind a nasty habit mask, tied up in the back of your head with an ashamed locker. To brake it, self criticism isn’t the key, instead the passcode is learning from your errors and healing with self love.
Exits are found through changing your thoughts, those harnessing your actions. Negative self talk affects your self control over escapism, it hands you over to unwanted pain. Then you forgive that mistakes have meaning to be uncovered when you unchain your mind and relax, to relieve your angst of the past.
Watch out for stress. As you strive to treat your struggles, stress is an ever present threat to your sobriety. So, retreat from the feeders of your insecurities. The fears peddled in the news and people’s negativity are enough to drive anyone crazy! Reach out for help and redouble your efforts against the stresses occurrences that you face. To maintain abstinence and not fall back into old self destructive ways, you have to strengthen not only your external support system but also your inner self.
Long term, addictions don’t appease stress, instead they increase anxiety, depression and sleep patterns become disturbed which lead to irritability and then, the insatiable need to relapse in order to get a short term relief… Unless going back and forth between stress and relapsing for the rest of your life is of interest to you, dealing with the core issues of your addiction is much more effective.
Is rehab the solution? When I went to rehab, I left halfway through, as soon as I felt the dead end. But it was a fresh start and I stayed on the right path with the assistance of people I trust, transcendental meditation, positive thinking, goal setting, and my own willpower. It’s only after I realized that the power to heal myself had to come from within me, that a power greater than myself showed itself to me.
That’s when I took ownership of my destiny and stop fantasizing about a painless death, about a transformation without change and a birth without contractions. As I stopped using blame for epidural, using stubbornness to sink into my comfort zone, I learned to embrace my pain and then watch it die under the grasp of my fresh blossoming self belief.
Unfortunately from day one, we were told a majority of people relapse during or after rehab and only a minority, the heroes of statistics, will not relapse again. The reality is, that for most people, rehab simply doesn’t work. But why such a waste of lives? In a place supposed to provide enlightening faith to the hopeless, why does welcoming is done without turning on optimistic lights?
Only a handful of rehabs have an alternative viewpoint from the traditional twelve steps program which consists mainly of group meetings. At such twelve steps (low vibe places), you must be involved in absorbing other’s miseries and in repeating yours, until you know them by heart. Until you get your chip as a monthly reward just for coming back each day to relive the past.
Inside these preaching walls, your personal power must be handed over to a ‘higher power’ but not to your own, since yours is powerless and your individual choice and self control are not considered valid options for recovery. In case you are the type to resist, know that questioning this approach will get you and your despair quickly dismissed. Here, your healing process is done alongside others who have different sets of problems which require different approaches. Your individual needs are not met and alternative healing options are left unexplored.
That said, rehab can provide the space needed to break out from the environment and routine that contributes to addiction. And for those who become isolated through their addiction, communication skills and self awareness can develop out of group interactions. Obviously, detoxing does happen in rehab, however, that blessing would have more purpose if the underlying causes of addiction were dealt with. Many relapses are triggered by complex subconscious and social issues: anger, family issues, self image, work and education. These all need addressing in order to be safe from relapse in the long term.
If addiction is a disease, why is there no cure? The twelve steps insist that addiction is a lifelong disease without cure. This belief limits people’s freedom of choice. The choice to empower themselves and to be fully in control of their fate. Encouraged to discuss and focus their attention on this believed disease of powerlessness, one’s state of mind is a trapped one.
Dealing with the root causes of addiction must be done and one of the best ways to end the cycle of addiction is to take ownership of your life, to feel empowered enough to make long lasting changes away from defeatist behaviors. Be brave and claim your life back, it is possible to find happiness and strength from within yourself!
“You are not an alcoholic or an addict. You are not incurably diseased. You have merely become dependent on substances or addictive behavior to cope with underlying conditions that you are now going to heal, at which time your dependency will cease completely and forever.” Chris Prentiss, The Alcoholism and Addiction Cure.
It’s worth considering – if a relapse means an excuse?
When you are on a slippery slope towards relapsing, recognise the warning signs then counter attack them. Let’s be honest and admit that you have been deliberating for a while. You assessed the pros and cons, even though you knew where it would take you in the end. Sometimes, relapse does happen on impulse but in the main, you make a conscious decision to relapse.
Don’t be fooled. One slippery day can revert quickly to an eternity in a short space of time. It is deeper than that even. It’s a change back to a near death way of life. So it’s critical to understand the source of your triggers and how to keep those stresses under control. Relapse or make the conscious choice to clear your subconscious of self sabotaging beliefs; which will you choose? It’s your choice.
If you do relapse, don’t try to make excuses for it. Just acknowledge why you slipped and tomorrow carry on… It does get easier, everyday is a victory and any defeat is not the end of the road as recovery is a life long journey. You are not alone in this struggle of temptation, however, think and decide for yourself which choice is best for you.