It can be rough! For alcoholics, being around people that can have one drink or get high recreationally without any consequences can cause some to question themselves. For you, it may even cause you to question all the hard work you’ve put into sobriety. You start to think, “If they can have just one, so could I.” In your heart, you know that it isn’t true. Many of us have been in similar positions or states of mind, but it’s important to remember that feelings/thoughts AREN’T facts!
Let’s take a look at why this is a dangerous place to be.
Theory of Moderation
Many people will enter recovery trying to find ways to use drugs and alcohol again, but this time as a “normal” person. It seems that enjoying life without these substances is going to be impossible.
Yes, it would be nice if we could come home after work and have one drink. What a fun, joyous experience to go on vacation with friends and enjoy that glass of wine.
There is a newer movement that teaches your goal should be to learn how to do these things in moderation. Instead of abstaining completely from these dangerous drugs, you are taught to believe that moderation is an acceptable goal. They even teach that after a period of sobriety, you should be okay to start experimenting with moderation once again.
This seems like a good time to remind you what addiction is. Even Wikipedia states that addiction is a brain disorder that involves a compulsive reward system even though there are negative consequences. It cannot be controlled, it cannot be tamed.
Once your body receives the drugs or alcohol, it will do whatever it takes to achieve more. You will not stop it. The only way to prevent the negative consequences of addiction is to avoid all drugs and alcohol. Moderation will not work.
Reality of Moderation
While you sit and watch those friends enjoying their one drink, there are some realities that you live with that they may not. That one drink may be just enough for you to crave your drug of choice. Then what? Your inhabitations are going to be lowered from the alcohol and it will be much harder to fight the urge to use.
Their normal is not your normal. Their normal means they will have that one drink and go home for a night with their family. You, on the other hand, might enjoy that one drink and then disappear for days while using drugs uncontrollably. In that, you might even get arrested or die. There is no moderation for you. Alcoholics and addicts can’t tell the difference.
Your reality isn’t their reality and you can’t base what you do on others.
Other Warning Signs of Relapse
Trying to convince yourself that having one drink is okay could be a sure path to relapse. This is just only one of the many warning signs that a relapse could occur. Here are a few more ways you can be sure that a relapse is imminent:
You Begin Romanticizing About Using
Sometimes we can sit around and remember the “good old times” when we were using. When you find yourself in this spot remind yourself of the consequences that occurred after the good times were over.
You Act Selfish or Moody
This pattern is often referred to as being a “dry drunk”, meaning you begin acting like you are under the influence even though you are sober. Most alcoholics or addicts have a tendency to overreact to the smallest of things. Frustration can be tough to deal with and they want to have their own way.
By learning to overcome the natural tendency to be selfish, you will be on your journey to a happier, sober life. If you begin to revert to these behaviors after you’ve made progress, you need to be careful about relapsing.
You Start Hanging Around Old Friends
This could start out as just an excuse to check in on them. Some people even go as far as claiming they want to share recovery with them, but it is often dangerous either way. When you are seeking out old using or drinking buddies, you are walking on shaky ground. You will rarely bring them up, but they will most likely always bring you down.
You Stop Taking Steps to Remain Abstinent
This is one of the most common signs that relapse is coming. Recovering addicts or alcoholics who stop going to their regular meetings or make excuses are walking a thin line.
By attending your regular meetings and having a strong support group, you are preparing yourself for the rough times that could come. It keeps you grounded and reminds you of whom you are.
The other possibility is that you may back off on the secondary measures that help to keep you sober. While you continue the meetings, your journaling may start slipping. The things that kept you centered and calm, now seem unimportant or you don’t have time for them.
When you don’t take care of all your health needs; emotional, spiritual and physical, you are setting yourself up for relapse.
Alcoholics Can Become Defensive
A general characteristic of addicts or alcoholics is defensiveness. It starts by being defensive toward the accusations made about your abuse and quickly flows into all areas of your life. Whenever you get questioned about something, even small nothings, you have the chance of becoming defensive.
This stems from the feeling that you are being accused. The defensiveness becomes even larger when the thoughts about you are true. When you notice that you are becoming more defensive with those around you, it might be time to take a look at your relapse gauge.
Trouble with Emotions
Being on the path to recovery means that you have begun dealing with your feelings. These emotions need to be dealt with on a regular basis for you to remain sober. Alcoholics or addicts will tend to get stuck on a certain feeling or deny that they are happening at all.
When you avoid talking about how you are feeling or you act as if there is no feeling to address, you are in danger. This is especially true if you are feeling frustration, stress or anger. It is very easy for alcoholics to get stuck in that emotion and not know how to get out. By continually practicing recognizing your emotions and working through them, you will be better prepared when you begin to get stuck.
Relapse can easily start with common misconceptions such as, “I can have one drink”, but they are rarely true. By staying close to the 12-step program and your support group, you will have a defense when this thought and other relapse triggers occur in your life.
Contact Clearbrook Today
If you or someone you know and love is struggling with alcoholism or drug addiction, Clearbrook Treatment Centers can help.
With 45 years of experience in treating substance abuse disorders, we can provide you with the necessary tools for lasting sobriety. By incorporating a medically managed detoxification process with an abstinence based model of therapy, you will have the opportunity to recover in an atmosphere that truly cares. If you are ready to make a change, please contact our Admissions Specialists today and get on the road to recovery.