Relapse doesn’t have to be a part of an individual’s recovery from the grips of substance abuse and addiction. When I got sober, I never imagined it would be a part of mine. I truly believed I would be able to stay sober for the rest of my days. I had conceded to my inner most self that I was an alcoholic and could never drink like a normal person again, where I failed was realizing that I had to make this concession every day and carry that with me in every action I took.
“It is easy to let up on the spiritual program of action and rest on our laurels. We are headed for trouble if we do, for alcohol is a subtle foe. We are not cured of alcoholism.” Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous pg. 85
I spent 8 months in sober living and then moved into a house with some old friends, none of whom were sober. Before moving, I was attending one meeting a day and actively working with my sponsor. This schedule rapidly declined, and very soon I was no longer attending meetings and had not spoken with anyone in my sober network in months. The one thing keeping me from taking a drink was that I was closing in on one year of continuous sobriety. On November 4th, 2014 I went to my first meeting in months, picked up my 1 year chip, and I would not attend another meeting for 8 months.
A month and a half after celebrating 1 year of sobriety, I relapsed. It was fun…. for 30 minutes. The guilt and shame immediately took over and I had no solution but to drink and use more to drown out those feelings. Within 5 days I had lost my job. Within 2 months I had lost my car. Shortly after that, I lost my place to live. Still, these consequences were not enough to make me ask for help. I continued to use alcohol as my solution to the circumstances of my life at the time.
After walking the streets for several months and destroying every relationship I had, something happened. I could no longer keep living the way I was living. I asked for help. For the first time in my life, I truly asked another man for help. I moved back into sober living with the greatest gift: the gift of desperation.
When I was getting sober the first time, I was a fairly high bottom drunk. When I relapsed, I was given a glimpse of how quickly and ruthlessly alcohol and drugs can destroy a life. Today, at 2 years sober, I believe that this was something I needed to experience. My reservations were smashed. I no longer look to the future saying, “I will never drink again”. I now know that I will DEFINITELY drink again, unless I work everyday to work a spiritual program of action. I never thought I would be grateful for my relapse, but today I can say that I very much am grateful for it, because it led me to have a greater respect for my disease, and a greater desire to continue to put in the work.