Main causes of relapse after significant sobriety?

Old 05-16-2015, 11:02 AM
  # 1 (permalink)  
Thread Starter
Join Date: Apr 2015
Location: UK
Posts: 48
Main causes of relapse after significant sobriety?

I have just reached the seven months sober mark. Things are up and down sometimes, but I am working hard on it, and on myself, and building lots of positives in my life. I feel like I am finally starting to get it, and I love discovering what I am capable of in life if I actually give myself a chance.

In my mind, it should get harder to relapse the longer you are sober, but of course, people do still return to alcohol after years of sobriety. This is probably a stupid question, but I wonder how a person who has been strong for such a long time might suddenly throw it all away? What makes the difference between someone who is sober for 5 years before relapsing, and someone who is sober forever?
SoberFreckles is offline  
Old 05-16-2015, 11:07 AM
  # 2 (permalink)  
MelindaFlowers's Avatar
Join Date: Jun 2010
Location: California
Posts: 2,693
"This time might be different......"

"I won't let it get so out of control this time..."

"Just ONE night, friend's bachelor party. Only ONE night...."

"Once a year wouldn't be that bad. Right?"

"Once a month wouldn't be that bad. Right?"

"Once a week wouldn't be that bad. Right?"
MelindaFlowers is offline  
Old 05-16-2015, 11:11 AM
  # 3 (permalink)  
Cissy's Avatar
Join Date: Jan 2015
Posts: 1,374
I have gone as long as 2.5 years sober and then gone back to drinking. I think for me, I felt like I was being punished or something. I used to think "I was living in a world of 'no.'" Does that make any sense? I wanted to be free to drink and I thought if I could go that long without drinking, then surely I could learn to moderate it. Then I'd go back to making rules. "I'll only drink when I'm out of the house, at a restaurant or something." Or "I'll only drink when I'm not around my family." (That was a good one.)

All the boundary setting is a joke cause therein lies the whole reason I had to stop drinking in the first place. I think the longer we abstain, the more we forget just how bad it really got before we quit. We don't see the harm in rewarding ourselves with a little of what society is continually cramming down our throats to be "merry-making stuff." Just look at all those people in the commercials! Young, happy, successful and at the top of their game.

Well, that's my take and 2 cents on the subject anyway. Praying this is the time I never fall into that trap again, cause it's so hard to get sober again once you give in.
Cissy is offline  
Old 05-16-2015, 11:12 AM
  # 4 (permalink)  
Join Date: Apr 2015
Posts: 770
I think the further away from the drink the thirstier I get because I forget how bad it was. Life usually gets better as we live sober and responsibilities often grow making us think That we might have been drinking just to cope with a hard time In our life, and now that life is better, I can probably handle a beer or 2. Actually in meetins I heard more ppl talk about relapsing bc their lives got better than talking about relapsing bc life got worse. I always found that interesting.
greens is offline  
Old 05-16-2015, 11:18 AM
  # 5 (permalink)  
PurpleKnight's Avatar
Join Date: Sep 2012
Location: Ireland
Posts: 25,826
In some ways Sobriety for the first week was always easier than pushing through to the few months stage, the reason being the stupid things I did drunk were at the forefront of my mind and, the guilt and embarrassment was still alive and well.

With time, that all starts to fade, I'd then convince myself things could work this time, it won't be like the last time as I couldn't remember the true reality of my drinking and I'd give in to the fairytales and fantasy that my mind was trying to sell me!!

But on the other hand with time the tools of Sobriety should be sharpened, a few Sober muscles should have been strengthened, but what if they haven't?

For me abstaining from alcohol was only half the battle, developing new coping mechanisms for life, creating new thought processes for those moments I felt alcohol may be a good idea, and ultimately creating a new Sober lifestyle away from my old routines/habits were the other half, without the later, simple abstinence never worked!!
PurpleKnight is offline  
Old 05-16-2015, 11:33 AM
  # 6 (permalink)  
Join Date: Dec 2014
Location: Frederick md
Posts: 101
I relapsed after almost 4 years. I had just had a baby, but any major stressor doesn't help. I just kept saying I really need something to take the edge off. I remember holding the bottle in my hands and thinking really hard about it. Just one or two, I kept telling myself. I'll feel better and be able to handle this. I told myself I would be able to quit, because I've done it before. 6 months later, I am 13 days sober. I absolutely could not just have one or two. I picked up where left off, only worse. Me, it was overconfidence.
Lscotty1 is offline  
Old 05-16-2015, 11:34 AM
  # 7 (permalink)  
Hawkeye13's Avatar
Join Date: Oct 2013
Posts: 10,655
For me, it was thinking that after two years I could "moderate" my drinking.

Nope. Bad idea

Worked for awhile, but then it didn't.

Now I finally accept I just can't drink alcohol safely.
I'm much happier quite frankly sober so no regrets except perhaps
for my extended time on the learning curve figuring this out--
Hawkeye13 is offline  
Old 05-16-2015, 11:40 AM
  # 8 (permalink)  
Venecia's Avatar
Join Date: Oct 2013
Location: Midwest
Posts: 4,841
Hi, Freckles,

I've posted this quote from David Carr's autobiography "The Night of the Gun: A Reporter Investigates the Darkest Story of His Life. His Own."

Carr is familiar to some SRers, not to others. He died earlier this year, in the newsroom of his beloved New York Times of cancer (and other health problems). His book details his nightmarish years of addiction to crack, cocaine and alcohol, his recovery and rebound and his relapse. Of the latter, he wrote:

"In various programs of recovery, adherents will talk about 'slips'; but the collapse into drinking and drugging can take a very long time. In that process, the prospect of getting high or drunk, unimpeded by obeisance to a higher power or a program of daily living, is rolled around in the mouth absently, surreptitiously, long before it is actually swallowed, to see how it might taste. That's how I finally found myself in my kitchen with that disgusting drink.

"When I really think about it, somewhere in the late nineties and into 2000, I stopped identifying myself as an alcoholic and an addict and began thinking of myself as someone who just didn't drink or do drugs. It took about four years to make that nasty drink in my kitchen, four years of not gong to meetings, four years of not speaking honestly with people in recovery, four years of a long conversation in my head, before the thought became the deed."

His observation remains the most insightful I've ever read about relapse. It serves as an inspiration to me to take this life of recovery seriously, to never forget what I used to be -- an alcoholic -- and to do something daily that is focused solely on my continued life in sobriety.
Venecia is offline  
Old 05-16-2015, 11:47 AM
  # 9 (permalink)  
A Day at a Time
MIRecovery's Avatar
Join Date: Sep 2012
Location: Grand Rapids MI
Posts: 6,435
Alcohol has a life time to wait for our one moment of weakness. SLIP = Sobriety Loses Its Priority.

For me that is why I continue with AA. I see new people who's life is falling apart. I talk to people who started drinking again after years of sobriety, I see people with long term sobriety and the great life they have.

People who drink again are the ones who forget the hell they left
MIRecovery is offline  
Old 05-16-2015, 12:15 PM
  # 10 (permalink)  
SereneEdition's Avatar
Join Date: Feb 2013
Posts: 1,515

>Alcohol has a life time to wait for our one moment of weakness. SLIP = Sobriety Loses Its Priority.

I almost had an accidental slip a couple of months ago by continuing to eat some Tiramisu that had alcohol in it because I didn't want to displease the hostess who had made my favorite dessert. Really?!?!?

It was a good wake up call that I needed to refocus.
SereneEdition is offline  
Old 05-16-2015, 12:22 PM
  # 11 (permalink)  
FreeOwl's Avatar
Join Date: Jan 2014
Posts: 8,167
I'll give you a real-world example:

I have 504 days sober and I love it.

I feel fantastic and life has gotten better and better.

This morning I ran a 25 mile relay with some friends.

At the finish, a lot of folks were drinking beer.

At one point, it flashed through my awareness; 'a beer would be good. I bet I could have a beer, no problem. This whole sobriety thing is probably an overreaction'
FreeOwl is offline  
Old 05-16-2015, 12:24 PM
  # 12 (permalink)  
FreeOwl's Avatar
Join Date: Jan 2014
Posts: 8,167
Now.... I saw it happen and I laughed and thought about it and realized that sobriety is hardly an overreaction to 25 years of probl drinking, two DUIs, countless blackouts and loads of trouble.

Then I looked at the beer again and realized that I felt wonderful and healthy and my water was just what I wanted.

But how easily I could have just let that little voice guide me....
FreeOwl is offline  
Old 05-16-2015, 12:29 PM
  # 13 (permalink)  
Jeni26's Avatar
Join Date: Mar 2012
Location: South East England
Posts: 8,001
Allowing other things to come before your sobriety
Forgetting the hellish reality of drinking, and re-writing history.

I relapsed after a few years of sobriety...and it hasn't been easy quitting again. I won't take my eye off the ball again in a hurry.
Jeni26 is offline  
Old 05-16-2015, 12:43 PM
  # 14 (permalink)  
Fly N Buy's Avatar
Join Date: Jul 2014
Posts: 6,346
Listen to the person who relapses........I will always hear that in my head as told to me by a friend in the rooms. If I remember nothing else if/ when that time comes where I am defenseless against that first drink - I pray I'll remember the stories of relapses friends are gracious enough to share.

I don't have to act on thoughts and so far I have not. But, for those who have picked up again I thank you for letting us know it's gets worse and never better.

Thanks for the thread
Fly N Buy is offline  
Old 05-16-2015, 01:16 PM
  # 15 (permalink)  
Join Date: Jan 2015
Location: former texan
Posts: 216
I relapsed everytime I thought I could be moderate. I would go a good length of time with no alcohol, and then would tell myself - one glass of wine. Which led to the second etc.... benders that lasted months.
Nothing seems to work except to keep saying no each day.
I suffer from the same as many - the idea that I'll never drink again. So I don't focus on that thought. I simply focus on today. I will not drink today. That's it. That one thought shift has caused me to experience the most joyous sobriety of my life. It means I don't project the future EVER. If I do, I suspect it would make me more likely to pick up again.
The idea of NEVER doing anything again is enough to make any of us batty. That is why AA is always talking about today. Focus on today. Today you will not drink. Today you will enjoy your life and your body.
Irnldy001 is offline  
Old 05-16-2015, 01:57 PM
  # 16 (permalink)  
Cissy's Avatar
Join Date: Jan 2015
Posts: 1,374
Good thread.
Cissy is offline  
Old 05-16-2015, 02:14 PM
  # 17 (permalink)  
Thread Starter
Join Date: Apr 2015
Location: UK
Posts: 48
I am really grateful to everyone for sharing their thoughts and experiences. Some really powerful and thought provoking stuff. At 7 months, the horror of some of my drunken behaviour is actually still pretty fresh, but I can definitely see that in a few years it will fade. I am tempted to go and write down everything that has happened over the last few years so that I can't minimise it at a later date.
SoberFreckles is offline  
Old 05-16-2015, 02:21 PM
  # 18 (permalink)  
Join Date: May 2015
Posts: 122
Originally Posted by SoberFreckles View Post

In my mind, it should get harder to relapse the longer you are sober,
The main reason we relapse is the same regardless of whether it's a month, a year or a decade. At least after the physical withdrawal takes place.

We relapse because we're alcoholics.

Over years of sobriety that really doesn't change. I've not drunk for six years; prior to that three or four years not drinking was my longest period and I came back into drinking worse than ever.

I tell you right now, I'm six years sober and I want a drink. (Not going to have one).

In my opinion it's often when people think years in it'll all become pink unicorns and rainbows and life is... life... with pressures from success and failure, and they've forgotten how bad it was, and it's just one drink...
lighter is offline  
Old 05-16-2015, 02:59 PM
  # 19 (permalink)  
Psalm 118:24
CAPTAINZING2000's Avatar
Join Date: Nov 2004
Location: ILLINOIS
Posts: 15,203
I've turned my drinking problem over to God.
I also give thanks for my blessings on a daily basis and ask that I may serve him each and every day.
CAPTAINZING2000 is offline  
Old 05-16-2015, 03:38 PM
  # 20 (permalink)  
Dee74's Avatar
Join Date: Apr 2007
Location: Australia
Posts: 205,677
Some great ideas here

My addictions have tried hard to convince me they don't exist LOL.

They don't try very often or very hard any more and I don't listen to them anyway - but I'm still guarded. I'd be a fool to forget my past.
Dee74 is offline  

Currently Active Users Viewing this Thread: 1 (0 members and 1 guests)
Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are On
Pingbacks are On
Refbacks are Off

All times are GMT -7. The time now is 06:32 AM.