Christmas is coming fast. Tis the season’ to be jolly and well … drunk! But hey, you’ve got a few years clean and sober under your belt, so you can relax. Maybe even skip a meeting. Truthfully, you’ve already skipped a few and you’re fine. Besides, you should be good by now. You haven’t told anyone yet, but you might even be able to drink again… socially, of course.

In case you didn’t recognise it, the paragraph above is what we In The Rooms call stinkin thinkin. I am guilty of thinking this way myself. When I first got sober I made little deals with myself all the time. It was the kinda stinkin’ thinkin’ that went like this – when I get a year clean, I’ll celebrate with a drink. Then when I didn’t pick up that first year it was – when I get 7 years I’ll go on a cruise and drink my face off. I figured no one would know me on the boat so my friends and family wouldn’t find out. Besides, (more stinkin’ thinkin’) drinking wasn’t really my thing. My thing was drugs. Lots and lots of drugs, so I should be okay.

Honestly, I have never been able to say I won’t use again. Because one day I might… just not today.

Relapse doesn’t just happen. You’re not cruising along taking good care of your recovery and then one day wham! Relapse is a culmination of events. It’s weariness, dishonesty, resentments, self-pity and ‘not telling.’

With a few years under your belt, it’s easy to forget that it’s okay to have a bad day. Or days.

Everyone has bad days.

Right?

When you’ve been sober awhile you do a lot to give back. And it feels good. After years of hurting and causing pain to yourself and others, you stop. Little by little you make a difference in your life and in the lives of others.

Success is intoxicating.

You feel better, you look better, you do better. You are better.

You are better? Aren’t you?

Um, nope.

Addiction is not a curable disease.

It is treatable. You can put it into remission.

But you can’t cure it.

They say it’s always with us, just waiting, doing push-ups. Like any hungry predator it hides, stalking and waiting ever so patiently.

After awhile you don’t see it anymore. At least, not like you used too.

You might think relapse comes in a bottle, a line, a pill, a needle, or any other mood altering behaviour or substance.

But it doesn’t.

Relapse comes in weariness, not practising gratitude and forgetting to pray. It comes in secrets and compliance. Relapse comes in boredom and little white lies. It sneaks in through alibis, justification and procrastinating. It’s a tenacious little devil that will change a positive attitude, into a negative one. And it doesn’t come right away.

Relapse comes over time.

A bad day stuffed behind a fake smile.

An “I’m fine,” when I’m not.

A ‘yes’ to just one more thing, when all you really want to do is rest.

A skipped meal, less sleep, it all adds up.

Without balance you lapse back into needing something to help you sleep, or give you energy to fulfil your obligations.

And for many of us our obligations grow over the years, over-filling our plate.

Then, one day the pill you were so terrified of taking becomes helpful. You need it to sleep or function in your busy life.

You might even get away with it…for awhile.

But it will catch you. It always does. And it doesn’t start back at square one, it starts worse. Much worse.

If you think addiction had you by the throat before, just wait!

I’m humbled by this disease. It’s cunning, baffling, powerful, and oh yeah, patient.

It’s alcohol-ism not wasim. I need to remind myself of this every day.

If you’re coming back, pick yourself up, start over and be willing to do whatever it takes.

Your sobriety is decided upon the choices you make in this 24. Admitting you want a drink or drug doesn’t make you weak. It doesn’t make you a failure. But it does increase your chances of staying clean and sober. Addiction is an impulsive disease. Cravings usually pass within a few minutes. As I learned in treatment, big mouths get better faster. Developing the skill set to ‘tell on yourself,’ is a sure sign you’re on the right track.

(c) 2014 Jagged Little Edges All Rights Reserved

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