Getting past a relapse:

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I personally have no experience with a relapse of drinking but I’ve relapsed at many other things. Oh, not drugs, but other bad habits and other dumb activities which I’ve told myself, “I’m never doing that again.” I consider the making of foolish mistakes as relapses for me. My relapse mistakes have to do more with business and personal relationships than anything else. But I can be understanding, in fact, I can be compassionate regarding someone else’s relapse of drinking. However, I will NOT allow myself the option to relapse at drinking. You laugh, “Relapse isn’t an option you dumb fuck, it’s something that just happens.”

I believe that relapse IS an option and it happens for a reason, and the reason is usually because you allowed yourself into a tempting situation or you talked yourself into “having one little drink.” This doesn’t mean you’re an awful person, powerless and riddled with defects—it just means you fucked up—and now you have to get over it and determine what YOU will do about it so it doesn’t happen again.

Getting past any type of relapse (drinking, drugs, sex, gambling, smoking, etc.), can be a convoluted stew of wildly swinging emotions. You feel guilt for what you did. You feel weak. You hate yourself, which can weaken you further. You might feel embarrassed that you disappointed someone important to you. You might even have fucked up something which has irreparable consequences.

You can forgive yourself, but will the people you’ve made promises to forgive you? Should they? How do YOU feel when someone makes a promise to you and they disappoint you? Do you overlook it? Do you just forgive them? Do you harbor angry feelings? Do you give them latitude to make good on their word in the future? Will you believe them in the future? Remember that other people may feel the same about YOU as YOU feel about others who disappoint you.

If you relapse you may need to directly ask the person(s) who you disappointed, “What must I do to earn your trust again? Is there anything you feel I need to do to show you my repentance? I’m not asking for a pass on this, I’m asking for you to be honest with me so I can earn your trust.” This isn’t very easy to do and it doesn’t always bring pleasant answers. But how else will you know what must be done unless you ask? And if or when you do ask, don’t argue or become defensive—you asked.

Do you think you need to pay some self-imposed penalty? Then pay the penalty and move on with your life. But don’t just simply forgive yourself—determine what YOU must do in the future so it doesn’t happen again. Maybe you need to practice having more “No thanks,” answers ready. Maybe you’ll have to sever ties with certain drinking friends, maybe you’ll have to pass on some invitations to fun events. This is the part of living sober that sucks, but some new decisions and new actions will be required of you.

History doesn’t always repeat itself, but a lot of times history can give us clues as to what will most likely happen. If your personal drinking history shows a pattern of progressive overuse then you can safely presume that it will happen again if you return to drinking. I’ll use myself as an example. I never was a social drinker. I could exhibit some small level of self-restraint on occasion, but that was only in special circumstances and always short-lived. (A business gathering or some other event.) I may have exhibited social drinking behavior or abstinence altogether at the event, but as soon as I left or got home I immediately reached for the heavy artillery.

When I would have those incidences when I got a bit out of hand, my wife would have a nice talk with me and I would temper my drinking—for a while (usually less than a week)—and I would be right back at my old behavior. It doesn’t matter if I was conscious of this behavior or not, that’s what I would do, so my history shows me what will most likely happen if I ever relapse into drinking.

If you continue to relapse you may want to ask yourself why? Is it because of the places you go? Is it because of the people you continue to hang out with? Is it because you allow yourself to get into tempting situations? Or maybe, just maybe it’s because you keep forgiving yourself and keep telling yourself, “Well even Mark says everybody fucks up. So I fucked up,,, I’ll just pick myself up and start over.” If you give yourself a license to relapse you will. There more frequently you do something the more desensitized you become to it. If you relapse once (for one night), you feel bad and you pick yourself up. But if you do it again it might not bother you much because you know you can always start over again. After a while the relapses become more frequent and go on for longer periods of time. “I can always pick myself back up and start over again.” What you’re doing is giving yourself license to relapse.

Relapses can be avoided. You might have to pass on some fun invitations, you might have to stop hanging out with some of your fun friends, you may even have to take more drastic measures such as walking away from a destructive relationship—those are some of the parts of living sober that suck. I’ve been sober a long time and I still pass on a lot of invitations. Sometimes I pass because I know it wouldn’t be a good idea (too tempting of an environment), sometimes I pass because I know I would be wasting my time watching other people get wasted. Sometimes I get bored around drinkers, sometimes I get irritated and other times I wish that I could join in with them. So passing on an invitation sucks and going to a wild party and not drinking with everyone else sucks, but having a relapse—which I could have avoided—would suck even more.

So I believe that relapse is often a result of talking yourself into trying to be something you never were—a social drinker. If you want to drink—then drink—but at least blame yourself. Don’t blame your wife, your husband, your kids or your job. I’m NOT suggesting that you do go drink, but quit fuckin’ around and accept that there will be consequences for your choice, regardless of whether you end up drinking or not drinking. As for me, I have NO license to relapse, but I do reserve the right to drink again if I choose to. And if I do choose to drink again, it won’t be a onetime relapse, I’m going full fucking throttle and I’ll go out in flames. This attitude keeps me from having a relapse. I don’t want to lose what I have gained and I certainly DON’T WANT all the bullshit that will inevitably come with my drinking again.

In summary: If you’ve had a relapse then figure out what you must do to avoid another one in the future, what actions will you have to take? Then determine if you need to (or want to) pay yourself a penalty or pay restitution to anyone else. Do you feel you need to address your relapse with anyone? Will doing so help you or the other person? Take this seriously if you’re serious about living as a non-drinker. Be patient with yourself and be patient with getting the results you hope to achieve. Forgive yourself… and don’t fucking do it again.

That’s it. These are my own opinions and you are welcome to disagree with me. Thank you for spending your time to read my blog. If you enjoy this stuff or get something out of it please tell your friends about my website. It’s LivingSoberSucks.com. You can follow my daily ridiculous writing on Facebook, just search for “Living Sober Sucks.” If you want to help me cover my costs of putting this site out for free, please make a donation to my site securely through PayPal: http://www.livingsobersucks.com/donate_to_this_site

Thanks again for spending some of your very valuable time with me. My name is Mark Tuschel.

One Response to “Getting past a relapse:”

  1. czabka says:

    Thanks for the post Mark, its been printed and even given to someone that needs to read this – Enjoy your aimless wandering :-)

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