Making it through the holiday weekend is not always an easy task for those in recovery for addiction. Those who have acquired significant time may find it easier than those who are new to the program, but they are still at risk of relapse. Working a program requires eternal vigilance, 365 days a year. However, holidays often require one to go above and beyond—making sure that you do not find yourself in a vulnerable situation that can jeopardize your recovery.
Nevertheless, the reality is that many recovering addicts and alcoholics end up taking a drink or drug during a holiday. The causes are varied and unimportant, but the outcomes are typically the same. It’s what a relapse does going forward that’s important. After a relapse, there only two ways to go: either reinvesting oneself into a life of active addiction or recommitting to the program.
Naturally, the latter is the optimal course to take, but some will choose to continue using after their relapse. Relapse is often accompanied by shame, a feeling that usually fuels continued use. After amassing some time in recovery, working with a sponsor and making some friends in the program, it can be extremely difficult to be honest about what happened with said peers. A lot of that stems from having trouble being honest with yourself.
Despite the fact that the rooms of 12-Step recovery are judgement free zones, owing to the fact that everyone in recovery knows firsthand how difficult it is to get and stay sober; those who relapse cannot help but feel as though they have let everyone down and that it’s easier to continue down a path of destruction than admit that you are a newcomer again. While such feelings are real, they are dangerous and could make a bad situation exponentially worse.
Just because relapse is a part of your story, doesn’t mean that all is lost. You have the power to pick yourself up, dust yourself off and get back into recovery. You can use the upsetting event as learning experience, which can actually be a tool that may protect you from a future relapse. If you happened to have relapsed over the 4th of July weekend, pick up the phone and call your sponsor and get to a 12-Step meeting. If you do not have a sponsor, get yourself to a meeting and talk to someone in the program.
After a relapse, time is of the utmost importance, the longer you wait in getting back to work—the worse it gets and the harder it is to return. Do not let a molehill grow into a mountain. Even people with a history of chronic relapse, have been able to acquire long term sobriety after a string of relapses.