The reality of relapse 

I have 7 months and 19 days clean which isn’t a lot but isn’t a little either. I’m at the point where I have built a life way too good to lose but am also feeling antsy at times, as most addicts do in some point of their recovery. We get into this normal adult routine and soon catch ourselves asking, “is this it?” 

I’m not sure what we expect when we get sober. We invision ourselves at a normal person job, with our own place, paying our own bills but not comprehending that comes with a pretty set schedule everyday. My biggest theory on why people relapse with months or years clean is this shit right here. Routine. I wont say boredom because I’m definately not bored, I’m actually exhausted. And sometimes I get tired of that too. 

Anyway, I started writing this post 9 days ago because at the moment, my brain was telling me it would be a good idea to go to where I used cop just to see what’s up. You know, see how everyones doing. Then, of course, I saw past my own bullshit real quick because I know if I’m down there I’ll get high so I asked myself, why? 

My answer? Well, I’m coming up on 8 months heroin free. I have my own apartment. I pay my own bills. I have extra money in the bank. I have two cats. I have a girlfriend I adore. I work all day Monday – Friday and adventure through Chicago on the weekends. However, in the midst of all this, my twisted brain told me to go down to Pulaski just to feel something DIFFERENT. Different. That’s the word I came up with. That’s my answer. I wasn’t longing for the numbing effects of heroin, I wasn’t looking for that rush it sends through my body right after I shoot up, I literally just wanted something different and that’s the best thing my brain could come up with right then and there.

And for anyone who’s curious as to how my sobriety is so different than the past failed attempts is because, like I said, this thought came to me 9 days ago and I’m still sober today. You know those insanely sunny days where there isn’t a cloud in the sky except maybe a tiny one floating by itself in the distance but obviously not taking away any sunshine or causing a storm? Well it was like that. It was just a thought passing through my head and I didn’t allow it to have anymore power than that. I could never do that before. I always used to feed into it, obsess over it. 

It’s okay to have a brief scene of nostaglia. It’s okay to have these thoughts because they’re inevitably going to happen. It does not mean your recovery is at stake, it just means your human. There is, however, a difference between a bad day and an emotional relapse. Thoughts are just thoughts until they become intentions and then actions. I mean, I’m reading over the part of this I wrote a week ago and not agreeing with some of it at all. I’m not antsy right now nor am I getting antsy. I was antsy. I was having a bad day. But the fact that I can dismiss those feelings entirely even a week after the fact shows that THOUGHTS ARE JUST THOUGHTS. Bad days are just days. Cravings are only temporary and in my case, extremely rare. 

I have bad days as all people do. There are many times I have left work in tears or trying to collect myself and breathe. There are many nights my girlfriend and I have spent fighting and it’s gotten ugly. There have been days I miss Dominic so much it hurts. There have been weeks money was tight. But there have been only a very small handful of days in the past 8 months that my brain has, even for a split second, told me heroin was the solution. 

I guess the main point of this post was supposed to be that relapse happens. It starts with your head but it can also stop there. You relapse emotionally days or even weeks before you physically go out and relapse. By my 6th sobriety date, I knew what my patterns were. I knew it was coming way before I was too far gone to stop it, I just didn’t care enough to try. I thought that since my head was already there, I might as well be too. But I had never had more than 4 months clean and now I’m almost to 8. I had never built myself back up like I did this time. I stayed stuck so relapse wasn’t much of a surprise. What always got me is when people with a year or more clean would relapse. It was always beyond humbling for me to see and I couldn’t wrap my head around it. But now, from my seldom moments of sobrital (I’m sure that’s not actually aword but it is right now) weakness, I can see where it may stem from. 

I just hope that anyone out there struggling to be stronger than their own head right now can see that your thoughts only have as much power as you allow them to and they will, like the clouds, pass. 

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25 thoughts on “The reality of relapse 

  1. I feel you. Same here. For something that kicked my ass so hard for me to get stagnant and even think about returning to it is crazy. But I do. And that’s addiction . Thanks for being the voice that’s not afraid to speak it out loud .

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  2. Thank you for writing this! I lost my son to relapse and I have often wondered why?, and what was he thinking?? I admire you for your honesty and your hard work every day of your new life!! Keep your head up, eyes up, chin up.

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  3. I lost my daughter to her addiction 3 months ago. Please keep doing what you’re doing. Your thoughts are educating people and helping more than you know. You are still alive for a reason, maybe even a calling. I will forever wish my daughter had let those dark clouds pass over. Keep going, one day, one hour, one minute, even one second at a time. You are stronger than you know and have many people you don’t even know pulling for you, including me. ❤

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  4. Great right up…I mean really, great job! And great job on getting and staying clean! You can do it…myself and lot’s of others are in your corner! Be good to yourself!

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  5. Thank you for sharing this. My son is an addict and has been clean for 7 months. I do and have done everthing I can to understand addiction but have always struggled with the relapse part. I’ve actually asked him why when he has those thoughts he doesn’t just call his sponsor ,reach out to someone, do something. Reading your thoughts on this I think is given me a better understanding about that than anything I’ve ever read. It gave me a better understanding of why when he says “I don’t know why” that he really doesn’t know. He says it’s like a runaway train. I forwarded this article to him. Again thank you for sharing your experience

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  6. Thank you for this. You do not realize how many people you can help by helping yourself by being so real and brutally honest. Needed to be reminded! God bless & stay well!

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  7. Much needed read. Thank you. On July 15 I will have one year free from heroin. These past few weeks I have been dealing with everything you have talked about in this post. I have struggled with the antsy feeling. Reading this has completely brought me back down to reality and perfect reminder of where I came from and where I don’t want to go back to. So once again much thanks,

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  8. Thank you for sharing your insight and experience. It opened my eyes and my mind to understand a bit better the constant battle against relapse.
    My daughter and her partner are currently involved in the tug of war between sobriety and relapse. I try to be as supportive and encouraging as I can, but I know that ultimately it’s their fight, not mine.
    I pray every day for those who struggle, as I pray for continued success for those who have found their way back to the light. God bless!

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  9. Thanks for sharing! Your stories have been helping me better understand what my girlfriend goes through. She’s also a recovering heroin addict. She hasn’t those days where it’s really tough and wants to go get high, but she always realizes her life ends the minute that needle touches her. Your blog is an inspiration and I wish you the best with your recovery!

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  10. Thanks for sharing this makes so much sense im back to day 14 and you sharing that thought is only a thought helps because i cant get past day 17 before i relapse. But this time something in me has changed. I have support, treatment and love people i can turn to before i use.

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  11. What a strong person you are. You have so many things to teach. I believe that sometimes we have to go to very dark places in order to be the light for others. I also humbly believe that Dominic is helping you from heaven. Thanks for your post.

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