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Relapse after 1 year -- what to expect?

Old 10-26-2018, 01:06 PM
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Question Relapse after 1 year -- what to expect?

Ugh. It's absolutely insane that, KNOWing I would have the thought (you know, the "wow I think I'm *fiiiine* now!" thought) and prepping for it, I still wasn't in tune enough to recognize it when it happened.

The first month of sobriety was hard. I struggled just to stay away from alcohol. The 2nd, 3rd and 4th were EASY -- I was sort of swept up in this new optimism about life. Things got a little weird during the 5th - 9th month...a bit more anxious, as I realized that I had no long-term skills to deal with ANY emotion (happy or sad), and had to learn to navigate living again.

But then, during the 10th month, this vague sense creeped in... like "hmm, things are going pretty good...". I KNOW this thought was dangerous, and I should have reached out, but it's weird... I didn't think I needed to because... well, everything felt alright. Like it was safe.

Anyway, what started 2 glasses of wine at friends wedding in September lead to an entire bottle of tequila last week while on the phone with a friends mom.

I'm currently 8 days sober. And while it doesn't feel like I'm gearing up for another round of "claw yourself out of the muck" like I had during my first month of sobriety (I'd been drinking a lot leading up), I'm still curious to know how people felt moving forward, what came up that they didn't expect, and what helped them get back on track... I've always found hearing other peoples experiences helped me know what to look out for.
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Old 10-26-2018, 02:26 PM
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Kin- what helped/s me-
DAILY support. Not once a week, everyday. My sobriety is as only as good as until up till now- so I have to constantly 'reboot' the recovery importance- with support. Like recharging an android battery.
Going to meetings- face to face support by listening and learning and sharing
Professional support- GP for physical health and depression, counsellor for dealing with daily stuff, psychologist to learn new life skills with CBT.
I remember HALTs, especially if I feel 'off'.
Hungry, Angry, Lonely, Tired/thirsty or Sad/stressed.
If I am any of those- I fix it (rest, eat, hydrate, NOT ISOLATE- just a walk in a mall park even), or I work out who can help me fix it.

Isolation is a sure sign I need to up my game, as is domestic stuff and self care.
Basics like making the bed (I know one guy who MAKES this a ritual where he thanks the Universe for being clean and sober for his children, by making his bed), shopping, paying the bills. Also shower, wash dishes and clothes- water plants.

All help me keep on track with my recovery.
Lastly- words, and lots of them. At SR and journal writing. I also learn about my stunted emotions and thoughts with art.
Support to you.
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Old 10-26-2018, 06:35 PM
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I'm gonna tell you something you might already know. I didn't, and I didn't get it until it was almost too late.

There's a 2 sided coin to relapse.

One on side, you go out and you survive the relapse. You crawl your way back and promise yourself that was the last time.

So maybe it happens again...and you still survive the relapse...you say, "This time, this is it"

And again...you relapse....

This time you get less time back...there a new pattern emerging..

Every time you relapse, the sober time gets harder and harder to put together.

This is the other side of the coin.

I was always so sure I'd make it back that I not only relapsed thousands of times, i got addicted to the detox medication and drank on that as well.

Every time I said to myself "This is it. I mean it this time" I believed myself.....and I still relapsed.

My point to this is that every time you go out, long term sobriety is going to be harder to get back...atleast it was for me. I'm not sure why....it may just be the nature of the illness. I don't know.

I do know that I really wished someone had told me about the sober time getting harder and harder to put together. I almost didn't make it back.

I'm glad you made it back...please don't do that to yourself again. This s#itty illness is hard enough to take on. We don't need the 2.0 version to deal with.
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Old 10-26-2018, 07:15 PM
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Our beloved CarolD used to say, in order to stay sober, you have to want to be sober more than you want to drink. Not easy, but simple.
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Old 10-27-2018, 03:42 AM
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I'm 9 years and 4 months sober. I have to work on my recovery EVERY SINGLE DAY. Even if that just means logging on and posting here at SR. My addiction wants me dead. I must never forget that. My life in recovery is full of joy and happiness. I never want to lose that again.
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Old 10-27-2018, 04:21 AM
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Kin,

I did the same thing, at 28, except I only made it 8 months.

I didn't have sr to inform me about the chronic..that means for the rest of my life... condition I have developed.

Brain damage.

It takes years for the brain to normalize. Every occasion is one to drink.

Each relapse resets the chemistry causing the anxiety and craving to ramp up. My av tells me what ever it can to trick me. Powering through, even at 1 year, 2 years, whatever involves anxious suffering.

Aa folks work the steps, call a sponsor, go to meetings. For now I know it is my brain damage. I don't do aa yet.

I work out, come to sr, watch movies whatever. I live sober. I enjoy the present. I forget the past...except what I take with me as education.

I don't blame anyone but me for my percieved problems. My problems are minuscule compared to many folks. For example a double amputee.

I call my new sober frame of mind growing up.

Things don't always work out still now. My world is filled with scars from the past. I work to move forward knowing I made this bad. I am reaping what I sewn.

But, I have a good time along the way.

Talking about this to all of you is my therapy. It cements solutions/plans in my head.

Additionally, I truly hope it helps you kick the habit.

Thanks.
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Old 10-27-2018, 04:23 AM
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Originally Posted by kintsugi View Post

Anyway, what started 2 glasses of wine at friends wedding in September lead to an entire bottle of tequila last week while on the phone with a friends mom.
First of all, there just isn't any event in the world important or momentous enough for us / me to 'celebrate' by drinking alcohol. Once I've broken the seal on sobriety, it's only a matter of time before I'm back to full-on poison mode...

Like Bulldog, I've fought my way back from many relapses, and they absolutely are progressively harder to recover from. I'm glad you recognize how important this period of time is, right now, as you regain your commitment to be well. It also sounds like you accept that inconvenient truth that we're never "fine" just because we feel better. A drink will never be okay for me, I will never conquer or master alcohol, it will always win in its battle to destroy me, so I need to respect and fear its power by avoiding it completely. Like lightning, or the bubonic plague!

I hope you consider yourself very lucky that you came back to your senses as quickly as you did; most of my relapses dragged on for years. You're in a good place, having learned a valuable lesson, and you never have to detox again. Don't let moments like a friend's wedding sneak up on you; leave the wine toasts to the normies and the active alkies We're not them.
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Old 10-27-2018, 04:27 AM
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Originally Posted by FormerBeerLover View Post
I'm 9 years and 4 months sober. I have to work on my recovery EVERY SINGLE DAY. Even if that just means logging on and posting here at SR. My addiction wants me dead. I must never forget that. My life in recovery is full of joy and happiness. I never want to lose that again.
^^^^love this^^^^
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Old 10-27-2018, 04:29 AM
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Originally Posted by BullDog777 View Post
I'm gonna tell you something you might already know. I didn't, and I didn't get it until it was almost too late.

There's a 2 sided coin to relapse.

One on side, you go out and you survive the relapse. You crawl your way back and promise yourself that was the last time.

So maybe it happens again...and you still survive the relapse...you say, "This time, this is it"

And again...you relapse....

This time you get less time back...there a new pattern emerging..

Every time you relapse, the sober time gets harder and harder to put together.

This is the other side of the coin.

I was always so sure I'd make it back that I not only relapsed thousands of times, i got addicted to the detox medication and drank on that as well.

Every time I said to myself "This is it. I mean it this time" I believed myself.....and I still relapsed.

My point to this is that every time you go out, long term sobriety is going to be harder to get back...atleast it was for me. I'm not sure why....it may just be the nature of the illness. I don't know.

I do know that I really wished someone had told me about the sober time getting harder and harder to put together. I almost didn't make it back.

I'm glad you made it back...please don't do that to yourself again. This s#itty illness is hard enough to take on. We don't need the 2.0 version to deal with.
^^^^love this^^^^
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Old 10-27-2018, 05:35 AM
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This is a helpful thread to me, as I'm approaching six months soon but have been having drunk dreams recently.

The period of time from 5 months onward last time was harder for me, and I relapsed after 10 months. I ignored the warning signs about feeling off without doing something about it that could have engaged me more in my recovery, daily. Going to AA meetings alone wasn't enough, and I was finding that I was getting less out of those meetings as I went along. I can definitely perceive the warnings in me that indicate I need more help, and I hope to act upon those more in this drive to sustained sobriety.

My own experience has not been that I get worse each time I relapse, but that's probably an exception. But my own story tells me that I need to be more aware of my rolling thoughts and have a "future hindsight" to let me be stronger in my abilities to deal with it. You can never be too strong to avoid a lapse, I guess.
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Old 10-27-2018, 10:37 AM
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Well here's my statistics that I'm sure many have heard me share 100's of times:

Got sober in 1990 after starting to face several negative consequences from my drinking (and occasional drugging). Went to AA and life got better quickly. Went to a lot of meetings the first 2 years but never worked the steps. Eventually cut down on meetings until I was no longer going to meetings. Life was great...until it wasn't. Me and wife separated in early 96 and I relapsed in fall of 96. Things got worse quickly as did the negative consequenses.

Got sober in 1997 after yearlong relapse. Went back to AA, went to a lot of meetings and life got better once again. Not quite as quickly as the first time as there were bigger messes to clean up from this relapse. Once again I avoided doing the steps as meetings seemed to be enough. Eventually I cut back on meetings until I was no longer going to meetings. Life was great...until it wasn't. I had moved to Nashville, TN for a great paying job but then got really sick. I was born with a heart defect and it was the cause for my illness. I went back home to NC to have open heart surgery at Duke. I had some complications with my sternum which kept me on opiates for several months. It was eventually resolved with another surgery and I went back to Nashville. But I had 2 major problems...my job was no longer waiting for me and I was addicted to opiates. As I found it more and more difficult to procure the opiates I started drinking again. This lead to a hellish 8 year relapse that nearly killed me.

Got sober April 17th, 2013 (current sobriety date). At this point I was a shell of myself, suicidal, unemployed and unemployable, living with my parents and had no money. I went back to AA, went to a lot of meetings, got a sponsor, and worked the steps within 3 months of getting sober. Life slowly got better, and continues to get better. I continue to go to meetings regularly and follow the principles of the AA program laid out in the 12 steps. I come to SR daily and read the forums, sharing when I feel like I have something helpful to offer. I still face problems that come up in my life, but now I have an effective way to deal with them. I lost my Dad in December of 2016 and lost my Mom in March of this year and the thought of numbing the pain with alcohol never entered into my head. The illusion delusion that I can ever drink alcohol again without devastating consequences has finally been smashed. I now rely on my HP and a simple set of principles laid out in the steps that keep me sober through good times and bad. Is life always great now? NOPE. Is life always manageable without the need for alcohol? YEP.
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Old 10-27-2018, 12:33 PM
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I'm still curious to know how people felt moving forward, what came up that they didn't expect, and what helped them get back on track...
It depends entirely on what YOU do. Just abstaining from alcohol didn't work so what are you doing differently? A recovery program, therapy?
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