What to do when you relapse

Help for alcohol abuse addiction alcoholics who want to stay sober
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What to do when you relapse

Post by cruisin83 » Thu Feb 05, 2009 2:08 pm

Within the past 9 months I relapsed after 16 years of sobriety. Here's my problem, I am in the addictions field and they are not very forgiving when one of us relapses. I have attended meetings since my relapse but can not share it due to what I do for a living. I have worked with a Ph.D dealing with events that led to my relapse but I have needed to share it with those who count, my fellow AA's. It has not affected my relationship with my clients, in fact I feel more empathy for those who have relapsed themselves than I used to. Anyone out there found themselves in the same predicament? It would really help alot to be able to speak freely about this.

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Post by Dallas » Thu Feb 05, 2009 11:14 pm

Hello Cruisin! Welcome to the site. I hope you make yourself feel at home and comfortable here.

I had a similar but different circumstance, once. I had been sober for 5 1/2 months... and celebrated early! :wink:

My Ego wouldn't let me go back and identify as a newcomer in the rooms where I had got sober. I figured I'd get 90 days, and then go back, and raise my hand, with an attitude of "Ah, it was no big deal! Just a bump in the road of happy destiny!"

My problem was... I wasn't able to get sober again. Sure, I might stay sober a day (but, I don't remember the day!) but usually it was less than a day... and I got worse and worse.

It wasn't until it was killing me that I became willing do go to any lengths, regardless of what they were... to achieve and maintain sobriety. When I was ready... my ego, my reputation, my career, my business... nor nothing else stood in my way. I was one of the unfortunate ones that had to get honest.

I realize my situation was a lot different than yours... with your 16 years, and your job in the field. That has to be a stressful situation and I'm sure it has tons of conflicts going on in your head. I feel for you. And, I wish you the best in what ever you decide to do.

I have known others in a situation that is more like yours. They shared that it was better for them to go through a temporary period of pain and humiliation that would last a little while... rather than go through a lifetime of risking it all and having to live with their conscience. We're a pretty sensitive bunch, I've been told!!! :lol:

I sure don't envy your situation and I hope that someone here on the site will be able to share their experience of when they had a similar situation.

The closest thing I can think of, is a doctor that I once sponsored, that was already on a long probation and could have lost his license to practice, forever.

Eventually, he had to face up and he did lose his medical license and was fired from the hospital. Later on, after about two years sober, he regained his license to practice.

And, in another situation that I'm familiar with -- the ER doc was fired and he lost his license. Later, he regained his license, and then, when he was about seven years sober, he became the Medical Directory of the hospital where he was fired.

I wish you the best. If I can help in any other way -- just let me know and I'd be happy to help.


garden variety
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Post by garden variety » Fri Feb 06, 2009 9:44 am

Hello Cruisin83.

Glad you could join us.

I can't comment about your line of work. I can imagine coping with a relapse after 16 years is pretty hard to do.

All I can share is the solution to our common problem which I'm guessing is the chemical addiction to alcohol known as alcoholism. I think alcoholism is an equal opportunity destroyer. It doesn't matter if you are a social worker with a rehab agency or a monk in a monestary. Like Clarence Snyder said "I got bit by the same bug that bit you!"

So what I'm saying is it probably doesn't matter who you are or what you do for a living. If you want to recover from the malady of alcoholism, the solution is the same for all of us that choose the program of the 12 steps of Alcoholics Anonymous. There are other solutions out there, and I'm pretty sure they help some folks stay sober. But for a man or woman that chooses our program, well you just can't change the steps because you work in a rehab and you relpased - otherwise it wouldn't be AA.

The 12 steps to me are 12 spiritual principles that give me a design for living that really works. It's not the meetings that keep me sober, it's the detailed set of instructions in the book called "Alcoholic's Anonymous". If I read that book over and over again, each day, I start learning how to apply those spiritual principles.

After all, that's the "core component" of sobriety for me. I won't stay sober if I read the steps. I won't stay sober if I memorize the steps. I won't even stay sober if I discuss the steps. The only way I can stay sober is the application of spiritual principles which are behind the steps.

The book tells me how to do that in the first 164 pages. If I do those things then it doesn't matter if I'm an airplane pilot, a baker, or a candlestick maker. If I follow a "few simple rules", then I undergo the "psychic change" that sends my illness to jail. But if you want to look at the disease of alcoholism from a standpoint of being responsible, then I'd say there is a "monster" within me that no one but me can be responsible for. The monster is me, and the things I do while I'm living the monster's life are things which I'm responsible for. If "the monster" gets drunk and drives his car left of center and paralyzes an 81-year-old lady, then "the monster" AND me go to jail. I stand before a judge and pay a price for the monster that is me. Those are my consequences for continuing to do the things that unleash the monster on an unsuspecting public.

When I "relapse", I do more than just "slip". When I relapse, that means I have a "lapse", or that "queer mental state" like the books says, in my judgement that has been sober for 10 years now. If I have a lapse in my judgement that is so big and so profound that I pick up a drink, then I know somewhere I stopped following those "few simple rules" talked about in the book. If I want to get my sober judgement back, then I go back to following those few simple rules.

So it wouldn't be good to complcate the whole matter by thinking those rules don't apply to me because of what I did for a living. Thinking that I'm an exception to the rules is a "peculiar" trademark of my illness of alcoholism. But I also know that those "few simple rules" are flexible enough to practically drive a Peterbuilt truck through.

Say for example I work for the biggest employer in my city, and that happens to be a coal mine in Maitland West Virginia. Everyone in the coal mine knows my business, and so does their families and the grocers and the milkman, outside the mine. If I been sober for 16 years and then I relapse, those folks in the mine are sure enough gonna know it. The whole city is gonna know it afterwards, and be whispering about it. I can play a game and go over to the next city and find a new sponsor and home group. Then if I read the book and follow the rules and pretend that everything is OK which it probably is somewhat, one day my heart is gonna realize I'm playing a game - I'll recognize my own "dishonesty". Then I'll either drink again, or I'll go back to Maitland and take my whoopin' and get on with life.

But I might also find out that I won' get a whoopin, and I might be welcomed and forgiven. I've found that people more often than not have a positive reaction when I'm honest with them and honestly feel remorseful about it, and I offer to make amends and change the way I've been doing business. My actions will speak louder than words.

To put it in perspective, I ask myself if I'm either trying to fight something or trying to run away from something. If I'm fighting or running away, then I'm not practicing acceptance. For me to stay sober and content, I try to strive for emotional and spiritual perfection, through the spiritual principles of the 12 steps, knowing that I'll never really achive it. It's the striving that will bring healing into my life, and when healing happens, then I realize I'm making progress, and little by little making positive changes in my "reaction to life".

I believe you can follow those same rules and live by spiritual principles again, no matter what your circumstances, or what your job involves. You stayed sober for 16 years which is more than my 10 years. If it were me, my sponsor would tell me do the things I did at first if I want to stay sober.

God bless and good luck. Thanks for helping me today.


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Post by Jools » Sat Feb 07, 2009 8:45 am

Good morning Crusin,

Sorry to hear you relapsed. Been there, done that after 9 years sober. No, I wasn't sober, I was dry. I had stopped going to meetings and started sippin' off my friends drinks long b4 I actually started this last 2.5 yr stint of drinking. I have 3 months now and I'm grateful for that.

I don't have any experience to offer you as far as you work/meetings goes. I find it rather odd that, considering what you do for work, that you can't be honest about what happened to you and I'm sorry you're having to go thru that.

Just let me know if there is anything I can do to help.

Welcome to the site!!


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Post by GeoffS » Sat Feb 07, 2009 6:50 pm

I've always heard that if you relapse,

you need to

admit you are powerless over alcohol: that your life had become unmanageable

come to believe a power greater than yourself can restore you to sanity

place your will and your life in the care of god as you understand him

this can all be done with the instructions found in the big book of AA, under the guidance of a strong sponsor. Then there are some further steps to take.

Its not always fun or easy, but if done thoroughly and honestly it always works.

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Joined: Sun Feb 08, 2009 1:09 am

Post by ROBERT » Tue Mar 03, 2009 6:44 pm


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