Let me start by saying that I’ve been free from alcohol for over 14 years. Every time I reach an anniversary, I’m asked; “how did you do it?” I always say; “one day at a time.” That seems to be the standard answer by successful recovering alcoholics in the AA program. Fortunately for me, I’ve never relapsed.
Once an addict gets sober, they must abstain from any sort of chemical that would alter their mental state. Abstinence is the best prevention against having a slip. It’s just too dangerous to flirt with disaster. During the opening of an AA meeting we will hear the question asked; “is anyone coming back from a slip?”
Many people never make it back into a recovery program after relapsing. I was told that if I continued my involvement in the program that I was going to step over a lot of dead bodies through the years. I’ve been one of the fortunate ones who has never gone out road testing and came back with a bunch of arrows sticking out of my a_ _.
I have been to several funerals though of people who did relapse and either died from natural causes, suicide or an accident.
1-AA meeting makers make it
2-By staying far away from places they used to party at
3-Detaching from old friends they used to party with
4-Going in the opposite direction of anything that triggers the thought of having a drink
5-Getting serious about staying sober, number one priority
6-By staying connected with recovered alcoholics
7-They learn how to live life on life’s terms
8-Most people who succeed at staying sober establish a relationship with God
The only way an alcoholic can prevent drinking again is to be vigilant in understanding that if they don’t drink they won’t get drunk. It really is that simple. Many who suffer from the disease complicate things.
Fortunately for me, one of my relatives gave me a life lesson about how powerful, cunning and baffling alcoholism is. I saw them go in and out of treatment centers over the course of ten years. They would get sober for several months to a year and the fall of the wagon. Every time they tried to drink respectably they eventually became a pathetic falling down drunk. Thank God for a place called the Care Unit and family intervention. The substance abuser finally got sober and succeeded at staying that way for over 25 years.
When AA says that if you decide to pick up a drink again that you will go right back to where you started, it’s the truth. I’ve heard countless stories in meetings from people who have had to start over. They had nothing but horror stories to tell after they relapsed. It’s said there are only three destinations an active addict will arrive at, jail, institutions or death.
The best thing you can do is get involved in Al-anon. This is a program designed to help friends and family members learn how to cope with addiction. It’s a worldwide organization that is 100% free and ran by volunteers.
Here are a few ideas on supporting someone in recovery:
1-Let the alcoholic have their space.
2-Avoid being an enabler. They must experience the consequences of their actions.
3-Love them unconditionally and without judging them. Learn to love the alcoholic and hate the disease.
4-Attend an AA meeting with them occasionally.
5-Read the AA Big book.
6-Become a regular attendee in Al-anon.
So, how do I handle it if a recovered alcoholic relapses?
Dating A Recovering Alcoholic Who Relapsed
Well, a good friend of mine was dating a recovering alcoholic/drug addict and told me that she suspected that he had started drinking again. The first thing she did was contact her boyfriend’s AA sponsor. The next thing she did was practiced detachment from the alcoholic. It was a very difficult thing for her to do. She went through a begging and pleading stage first. When that didn’t work, she threatened to kick him out of the apartment she was helping him with. He continued to drink and she decided it was time to show tough love to the alcoholic and let the consequences of his actions fall where they may. This was done out of anger more than love, but her decision to not enable the alcoholic contributed to him hitting a bottom and prevented her from being hurt more.
It’s been my experience that when a recovering alcoholic is relapsing, they usually end up in worse shape than before they quit. It’s like the forces of failure are so great upon them that they just give up. When they feel like such a screw up they go to excessive extremes in their alcohol consumption. It’s like they just pour depression on top of sorrow until they are pathetically plastered. Jail, institutions or death seem to be their only destination unless they make it back into a recovery program.
What are some of the signs of relapse?
7-Smell of alcohol
When the recovering alcoholic relapses we do these things:
When an addict is active in their addiction there’s no stopping them. They will do anything and everything to either get a drink or a drug. Just like they are on our minds 24/7, a drink is on their mind 24/7. The recovering alcoholic’s behavior changes, once he or she has slipped, will be very noticeable.
These four things will help you in letting the relapsing alcoholic go:
1-Realize you cannot control their drinking
2-It’s not your fault they have decided to start abusing alcohol again
3-There’s no cure, they have to decide to practice abstinence
4-Let go or be dragged
I’ve had the full course in alcoholism. I’ve been the recovering alcoholic and I’ve lived with the relapsing addict. It’s a cunning and baffling disease. It takes people hostage on both sides of the addiction. The best thing you can do if you are in a relationship with a recovered alcoholic is get plugged into Al-anon support group meetings right away. There’s no way you can prevent a relapse. All you can do is protect your own emotional sobriety.