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The Reality of Relapse – What to do when you are feeling low

I’ve relapsed before.

It was during a time when I thought I had it all together, my life was back on track, things were looking good, my future was bright… Yes, there were tough days, but I felt strong and ready to take on life’s challenges.

Addiction Recovery and Relapse

Then one day, things didn’t go so well and I wasn’t feeling as strong. I hadn’t attended an AA meeting in a while, something my counsellor had urged me to continue doing – there’s a reason “meetings work if you continue working them”…

It started with a sip of someone’s wine, then a glass of my own. It was only one but it brought so much relief.

The next day I went out and bought my own bottle of wine, I thought to myself – “a glass a night, if it’s only one glass everything will be fine”.

Before I knew it, I was drinking two glasses a night, but because it was only “two glasses” I felt very little guilt… It’s not like I was “abusing alcohol” like before my stay at the rehabilitation centre.

A month down the line and I was up to a bottle a night, but that was only 4 glasses – no biggie! (I used to be WAY worse, believe me!)

Basically, I was in deep denial – I knew exactly what I was doing and how thin the line was before I stepped back over to my old ways.

Talk about it, Talk about it, Talk about it

I blatantly forgot about everything I had learnt in rehab and Alcoholics Anonymous. I forgot that there were people, just like me, who had the same issues and the same habits.

I chose to forget about my sponsor, the one person I could call when things weren’t going well. Sponsors are like angels in times of relapse, and without a doubt I needed my angel.

If there is one thing I could advise anyone going through a tough time and feels like they might possibly relapse… CALL SOMEONE!

Whether it be your sponsor, counsellor, social worker or rehabilitation centre – CALL THEM.

We spend so much time trying to be strong alone that when we can’t be strong we fall apart rather than asking for the strength of others to carry us forward.

Asking for help isn’t weakness, it’s strength. Knowing that you are close to relapse and asking for help means that you are gaining strength day by day and you want to continue your new path to sobriety.

Go to an Alcoholics Anonymous or Narcotics Anonymous meeting, speak about your feelings – listen to other’s stories and struggles and feel unity and strength in the fact that you are not alone in your struggle.

Dealing with the Guilt

It’s also important to remember that relapsing doesn’t mean the end. This is something I also had to make peace with.

Once I stopped drinking again and started attending meetings, I felt a great deal of guilt and shame – like I had failed - again.

Until one day I met a lady during an AA meeting, sober 12 years she was an inspiration to me (back then I was only 2 years sober). We spoke about the early days of rehabilitation, the in-betweens and the now.

I told her about my addiction and relapse and the guilt and feelings of failure I had.

She explained that the road to sobriety is a long one and although you may experience a flat tyre or two… as long as you get back on the road and keep moving forward you will reach your destination.

This piece of advice has stuck with me and I have used it to overcome many obstacles in my life not only my alcoholism.

Yes, I have relapsed before, but that won’t define me.

- Reva Townsend

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