“Well What If They Relapse?”

 

Is, In my opinion, one of the most paramount questions asked regarding an individual with the disease of addiction. Now granted, it is a logical question and the fact of the matter is that the odds are not in my favor. Studies show approximately 90% of IV heroin users relapse in their post-treatment lives. While I do have a powerful story, I am in no way immune to becoming another statistic.

The main character of The Hunger Games, Katniss, knew her situational circumstances were life or death, just as I have come to understand that living with the disease of addiction is life and death. The choice is mine and mine alone.

I have allowed this question to mess with my emotions at certain times in recovery. Internally projecting my ego and false pride with a dash of resentment to boot. Whoops, there goes my humanness. Here is an accurate example of this state of defense.

I was around four months clean when I began the amends process. For any reader who doesn’t know what this entails let me explain. Amends are apart of any twelve-step program, a necessity for a real life change.

My resolve to become willing to make any and all amends to those I have harmed in active addiction is straight redemption. Willingness is the key ingredient here! Not to mention if the amends could cause more harm, then it is important to get creative and find a different solution, i.e. volunteer work, a monetary contribution to a just cause, helping another sick and suffering individual. You get the idea?      

So around the four-month mark, believing I was humbled enough to handle a serious conversation with my baby’s daddy, I agreed to speak with him once a week on the phone. It had been a few years since we had “really” spoken. That being said I did my best to stay present by responding instead of my old school “reaction” style.

As the father of my child explained to me that when I was abusing heroin on the streets, he had attempted to prepare himself and our three-year-old for my imminent death in active addiction. I listened intently as he expressed his frustration at the fact that I escaped the near-death experience and now he was faced with a greater dilemma.

How does he ever trust me enough to permit me to see my daughter again? From the sounds of it, he couldn’t even fathom allowing me to be an active part of her life without him present. Now that I am sober the conundrum of what if I relapse? Is a seriously real possibility and the stakes are high.

“Relapse is part of recovery after all” He reminded me in a factual tone. I firmly replied that relapse is not part of recovery…relapse is relapse and hopefully for the addict who still suffers they will get another shot at recovery. For you, the reader, please keep in mind this is my personal belief and I am more than willing to respectfully agree to disagree.

After all, my sobriety date holds more weight than any birthday, anniversary or holiday. The day I chose to fight back against a killer, a homewrecker, the dark side if you will. If I ever take that day for granted then I might as well throw in the towel.

Here’s why; This disease is progressive! If relapse occurs without immediate action to resolve and sober up, then we go back to the statistics. I am determined to do whatever it takes to keep my sobriety date intact in my memory and in my past.

My truth is that the “baby’s daddy” had every right to consider the statistical possibility that I couldn’t stay sober. He also was just doing his best to protect our daughter. The whole conversation took my breath away and I pictured myself spontaneously combust in the back parking lot of my IOP class, now attending late due to the conversation. There wasn’t anything that I could say or do at that moment in time to change his mind or more importantly his heart.

The flip side of this unavoidable discussion was what the baby’s daddy did not and could not know about my current state in recovery. All of the small steps that I began taking at Mending Fences.

Detox, equine therapy, group therapy, and personal trauma therapy sessions. Basically a brigade of therapeutic resources. While I also was adhering to everything asked of me and following all suggestions given. Suggestions such as ninety meetings in ninety days, finding a sponsor and working a twelve step program. All of which I forced myself to do while still in rehab at Mending Fences.

See, I was educating myself on making sure I would achieve the best chance of staying sober. I was determined to prove the system wrong. This idea remained my driving force while still in treatment, although I wasn’t yet aware that my “I’ll show you” thought process was a reaction.

This thought process allowed me to have the strength to struggle through the growing pains of recovering from drugs and alcohol. Destroying my old foundation to start fresh with a new foundation is one of the greatest gifts I have ever received, sweat equity.

The question of relapse initially conjured up combat in my mind. You have no idea what I’ve done and continue to do for my recovery! Practice, practice, practice. Asking for help when I need it, remaining teachable, taking care of the mind, body and spirit, staying accountable and telling on myself are simple and extremely effective techniques to live my best life. Pretty sweet deal if you ask me!

I now consider the question of relapse to be apart of my accountability. My perspective has changed. I no longer feel the need to prove myself to anyone but myself.

Yo, this is my life and no one else can, should, or will live it for me. If someone is asking the question of relapse it is probable that they don’t fully understand recovery and/or they actually do care! Concern for other humans? What a novel idea. Either way, I am someone with a disease and I am grateful for the concern.     

That being said, I am mindfully aware that the concern of relapse is a necessity to consider. To be honest is to not live in ignorance of the fact that my disease wants me back. Which is the exact reason why I practice prayer, meditation and conscious contact with my higher power on the daily. Got spirituality? Or religion? For me personally, I subscribe to the spiritual side of life.

The journey of recovery has nothing to do with the end goal, just as life is not about the end goal. Life demands that we continuously grow and experience what it has to offer. There is pain and there is pleasure, one cannot exist without the other. The ying cannot exist without the yang!

Even if my attitude embraces the idea that I am going to prove all the critics wrong, I had to fully accept that there is absolutely nothing I can do about what other people think about me. With the exception of living on a day to day basis in my truth, and truth is shown by way of actions not words.

This may be disheartening to those surrounding an addict. Family, friends, co-workers, communities and innocent children. Everyone suffers in varying degrees at the hand of an addict.

The bottom line is that codependency and the “enabling” factor are issues that must be handled concerning the disease of addiction. If an addict is not ready to get honest with themselves and genuinely want help, then frankly any person attempting to put forth the effort is wasting their time.       

Here’s the cool part. If you believe you have this allergy of the body otherwise known as the disease of addiction then please know you are not alone. There are numerous resources and people who understand the struggle! I challenge you to get honest with yourself and live one day at a time immersed in your truth.

I will say this; Reaching this decision takes strength, courage and guts! However, beautiful events start to unfold when honesty is the objective. Humans in recovery don’t abandon each other and I don’t know about you but I have real abandonment issues.

I’m also not going to sugar coat what it takes to get sober, there is work to be done! There will be pain both physical and mental but as The Dread Pirate Roberts or Westley so eloquently put in the novel The Princess Bride “Life is pain, Highness. Anyone who says differently is selling something.”  

“So what if they Relapse?” Then maybe they aren’t ready to get honest. Then maybe they aren’t working a program of recovery? Adjustments need to be made. Whatever the case may be those of us living a life in recovery welcome you back, anytime, with open arms. Relapse is a reality and acceptance is the key!

 

Hugs not Drugs and Blessings to all-

Crystal Champ

Edited by Jared Schappert

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