Why Relapse?

I can help myself stop thinking about it. I have a job now. I get to see my kids and have a place to stay. Things are better now than they have been in years…why can’t I just stop thinking about using again?

Last evening in a small group discussion, not one, but two men said these words. Others in the group nodded their understanding, going through, or having been through the same thing. The fear of relapse is heavy on them. So heavy, in fact, that they cannot see solutions, hopelessly rambling to relieve some of the pressure. 

“Keep doing what you are doing and you’ll keep getting what you’re getting.”

I heard this statement early on in my recovery from alcohol and drug use. That goes for recovery as well as using. If you and I keep doing what helped us get clean and sober, we stay clean and sober. If we keep using and boozing, we will keep losing. The one straddling the fence, however, has one foot in the past and one in the future and miss the concept, “just for today.” We only have a daily reprieve, and that is only if we do what is necessary to maintain freedom from addictions.

When most people struggle with their compulsion, they wrestle using willpower, doomed to fail and relapse. Forgetting how we received the gift of sobriety is where relapse begins, and that long before one actually does the deed. For some, they feel it would have been better for them to have never gotten clean, than to go back and do it again, killing their confidence, disappointing their loved ones.

“But it has happened to them according to the true proverb: A dog returns to its own vomit, ‘ and ‘a sow, after washed, to her wallowing in the mire.” 2 Pet.2:22

So if you are struggling to stay clean and sober, how did you get sober in the first place? If it came from being incarcerated, or from family insistence, or from most rehab programs, you have little to fall back on to maintain your freedom. If sobriety comes from getting to meetings, prayer, working the steps, serving others, etc., you have something to fall back on. Being diligent goes miles in recovery. 

In short, if you are having a bad time with the compulsions, get to your knees, ask God for help. Get to a meeting, get on the phone to your sponsor…or get a sponsor, get into your devotional readings, get out of self and help another. The word get implies action and diligence. Diligence from the onset of recovery can keep the desire to do it again nothing more than a passing thought. 

Thanks for reading, God bless and keep you all.

7 thoughts on “Why Relapse?

  1. Why Think Relapse! Having been through the same thing. The thought & fear of relapse was heavy on my mine. So heavy, in fact, that I could not see any solutions, hopelessly rambling around in my head to relieve some of the pressure. I for one never forgot where I came from and the fear of going back into that Living Hell (Spiritually, Mentally & Physically) that I lived in until I was 42 years of age May 1st 1984, I am 71 years young & loving it today with our Lord & Savior Jesus Christ & my fear of Relapse & that only live just right now at this time and space, I look at just now I have never quit any thing , I just don’t do any Drugs or Drink right this minute. I just believe in the knowledge of what is working just for now. This saying is a positive for me today “Keep doing what you are doing and you’ll keep getting what you’re getting.” This can be said: Keep doing the something over & over, looking for something deferent, & getting the same results, nothing changing this is called insanity. I have so much I want tell you, it would take up so many pages.

    My wife has 28 years Clean & Sober 08/15/1986 – I myself I have 30 years clean & Sober 05/01/1984 Please I earnestly beg of you don’t get the wrong ideal that we are boosting about your clean & sober time we have managed to put together that by the grace of a loving God & the loving people in Alcoholic’s Anonymous all over the globe, in smoke filled rooms like I got clean & sober in. I washed coffee cups, cleaned cigarette filled ash trays, cleaned the tables off, put up the chars & moped the floors after meetings,- after meetings sometimes I had help & there was many a times I did not have help. If I told you that I didn’t bitch about it, I would be lying & I swore that I was not going to do that again by myself, Yes! you guessed it, I talked to my sponsor & he told me not what I wanted him to tell me, he told me what I needed to hear, I went back to the same meetings & did the same things I did before & stayed clean & sober one more second, one more minute, one more hour & One More Day At A Time. Working with others, sometimes reading to them from AA big Book & the 12 Steps & 12 Traditions book.

    So if you are struggling to stay clean and sober, how did you get sober in the first place? If it came from being incarcerated, or from family insistence, or from most rehab programs, you have little to fall back on to maintain your freedom. If sobriety comes from getting to meetings, prayer, working the steps, serving others, etc., you have something to fall back on. Being diligent goes miles in recovery.
    In short, if you are having a bad time with the compulsions, get to your knees, get on your face eat carpet ask God for help. Get to a meeting, get on the phone to your sponsor…or get a sponsor, get into your devotional readings, get out of self and help another. The word get implies action and diligence. Diligence from the onset of recovery can keep the desire to do it again nothing more than a passing thought. Believe & Believe God Loves You
    “Keep doing what you are doing and you’ll keep getting what you’re getting.” CLEAN & SOBER

    We teach clean sobriety today with God, AA,Na & Spiritually Recovery

    • Thanks Jim for the powerful comments! What you said here is exactly what so many need to hear…more importantly, what to adhere to. It takes effort not hard work, enjoyable work, to stay clean and sober. Be well, keep sharing! God bless you and Tish.

  2. Hi Keith… a few things stand out to me from your post. One sentance, “When most people struggle with their compulsion, they wrestle using willpower, doomed to fail and relapse”, reminds me of when I tried to overcome or control my addiction by pointing my will at it. Not recognizing that with respect to my use of drugs and alcohol, I was beyond the power of my will.

    Yet, I would eventually discover that my will had a role in my recovery none-the-less. I eventually learned that if, instead of applying my will to just staying sober, and it was never an endeavor to stay sober for an hour or a day, it was an endeavor to stay sober forever, which of course was way beyond the power of my will.

    But I eventually discovered that by applying my will to the components of my program of recovery, rather than lifelong sobriety, ended up yielding me sobriety and recovery in many aspects of my life. Components of my program would be going to meetings, making calls to others in recovery, helping others, reading, etc.

    My will did still have power, I just had to apply it to the right things. When I apply it to my program, it returns in multiples. And then if I reinvest these returns, meaning if I use the strengths I have gained and then apply these strengths to my program, then I get a multiple of the multiple.

    This is the pattern of growth I have discovered in my practice of an AA program.

    We are told that we must have “willingness”. Does not this imply that our will has a role in our sobriety and recovery? It does to me. It is simply a matter of what we apply our will toward that makes the difference.

    • That is an interesting look at willpower Chaz. I never really thought about willpower in doing right things. My will never chooses the hard way for anything. I have to become willing to allow my will to be broken, and conform to God’s will in my life.
      How is that possible? Willing, willpower, my will…what’s the difference? The difference takes on a spiritual aspect that requires an understanding of our fallen nature. Paul said, “I know nothing good dwells in me.” In Romans 7, he lays out the fallen nature of man, and trying to willpower right-living. We need God’s help to open our eyes and hearts to be willing to see His plan and purpose for us.
      Having said all of that, you are correct when you ask/remark doesn’t our will have a role in sober living, yes, it does. That is what I find very interesting about your comment. It is more a moment of clarity to want to live free of drink/drug, taking the step of faith to seek help, from others and going to a meeting, or rehab, then accepting what we have become. Or maybe what we really are. The self-will to live as I please is then broken.
      I feel I may be able to answer this with God’s help. But I feel you have some great thoughts here that I need to research more instead of rambling as I type this. Thanks for the thoughts! K

      • Hi Keith…. I did not mean to be contentious in my reply… Sorry if I was.

        I suppose it feels somewhat of a contradiction in our culture of recovery that on one hand, the will needs to be broken, yet on the other hand, we need to bring our willingness to the recovery table in order to get any results.

        So perhaps there are multiple dimensions or subcategories of he will? Hard to say.

        One thing in your reply that I concur completely with is that my propensity to live on self-will to do as I please has to go. This is probably the darkest application of will. And we were entirely self-deceived to think we were living this way without cost and consequence to ourselves and those around us. We were going backward and we didn’t even know it.

        So I wonder, is it a different aspect of will then that fuels my decision making to accept and live a program of recovery? I know I don’t do it robotically. I instead choose to and then apply my will to take the steps to DO the doing of my program. Including going to meetings, reaching out, helping others, reading, etc.

        Similarly, my relationship with God includes my involvement via my will. I choose to believe, I choose to seek him, I choose to try to follow and obey. None of this of course would be possible without Him first loving me and by his own will, reaching out to me first. From there though, my will is involved in accepting his gift and reaching out to his open hand. I could choose to ignore and many do.

        So somewhere here, is a positive use of will. I don’t know all of what Paul meant in the scripture he wrote. i do believe that even he still had a choice governed by his will as to whether he would accept Jesus or not, even though he had an encounter of the most vivid sort. Somewhere n there, Paul pointed his will at what God offered him and as such, served God the rest of his days in ways that are unparalleled over the ages.

        This is where my thinking is anyway. I simply see that our will does have a place and applications in healthy ways.

        Chaz

      • Right on Chaz! Sorry for the late response…again. I have been slammed at work and have had like zero time to post, read other’s posts and comments. I love the way you word your comments to provoke thought. I didn’t take your comments as contentious at all. I still am triggered after so many passing years, and in the most unusual ways. The enemy is crafty.
        Peter talked of Paul ‘s writings as hard to understand too. (2 Peter) He makes those statements that really get under my skin like, “I die daily.” I love to dislike that thought, thinking how my agenda is not God’s plan for the day. If I choose to die to my agenda, and choose God’s direction, it is me that made the choice. You are correct, our will is ours. God gave us that by grace. I am seeing more and more how thoughts I have as I grow in recovery change slowly. Giving up control over people places and things was difficult for me. In recovery, my sponsor said I had to give those up. In time, however, I see that God wants me to have control over them, but in His way. That can be confusing.
        Blessings to you and your family Chaz. Thanks so much for your excellent comments! Keith

  3. My friend this is truly a powerful article and some truly powerful testimonies. Keep up the good works. I would like to discuss with you writing and posting some of your articles in our Ministry Blog in our Drug and Alcoholic Section. You have a lot to offer to our many readers. If you are interested, please email me at: pastordavismasterteacher@gmail.com/ Looking forward to communicating with you very soon. May God bless you abundantly in all that you do each and everyday.

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