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Building immunity

Old 08-29-2015, 08:48 PM
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Building immunity

Hello. I am not a newcomer to recovery so much as a newcomer to successful recovery. I'm on day 4 and I would like to share something meaningful and hopefully get your views.

In an earlier post I talked about how after a few months of contemplation I could easily stop drinking for 6 - 8 weeks without any cravings before I relapsed. A helpful, wonderful, poster pointed out that maybe waiting to start until I was in the right mood was not the best way to go and that starting when I wasn't in the right mental/emotional place might be beneficial.

Well I tried that and boy was it REALLY hard. I could only do one day. After a few attempts I managed two days. After a few attempts at that I now have might first three day streak. I am building an immunity. I can feel it.

I have to add that another concept that I picked up from many posts in the forums is the idea of not considering a relapse a failure and to forgive myself. I did not realise how much I was beating myself up after each relapse, and how much harder that perfectionism was harming my recovery attempts. The solution was yet another idea that I picked up in SR: acceptance. It took a while but it was useful.

This is hard but I have learned to be persistant and to learn from each mistake. Easy to say, easier to read and agree with, but it turned out damn hard to apply for just three days.

The results have been worth much more than the effort.

Has anyone else used this approach and how did it turn out for you?

KP
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Old 08-29-2015, 09:22 PM
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I guess I sort of did... I went through a long period where I would relapse and quit again, and try to just see it as part of the process. It didn't work out very well for me. I found the relapses were much worse than my steady drinking had been... by the end of that time period they were hitting me like a train.

But no two people are alike! I was just giving up. It sounds like you in the past beat yourself up too much about relapsing and that lead to more relapse... so treating yourself with compassion sounds like a good idea to me. The only thing I'd suggest is to avoid convincing yourself that building a longer sobriety is going to require lots and lots of relapses. I met a very young guy in rehab who really, really wanted to leave. At one point he said, "This isn't the right time. Realistically, I'm not going to kick it right now. I mean, this is only my first rehab!" It scared me that because he knew so many people who'd been in and out of rehab for years, he assumed he'd need to do the same thing. He was convincing himself that leaving early and using again was just part of the process.
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Old 08-29-2015, 10:48 PM
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Thanks Fantail, very illuminating. I will heed your warning.

KP
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Old 08-30-2015, 02:50 AM
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Congrats on day 4
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Old 08-30-2015, 04:35 AM
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Hi.

During my difficult period of many relapses my thinking involved a lot of mind bending BS and rationalization. For me the bottom line was I wanted to drink more than I wanted to be sober.

Back then there was no internet to escape to as a softer easier substitute for the work and changes needed to become and stay sober.
I needed to put the toys away and become a part of what works when we work it.
This involved being honest about MY drinking and accept the fact I cannot drink in safety one day at a time in a row along with wanting to be sober.
It’s that simple, I didn’t say easy.

BE WELL
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Old 08-30-2015, 07:22 AM
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I agree with you that we often beat ourselves up too much and for too long, rather than focusing on where we need to focus. I think it's good advice that you are learning to get through the tough days as well as the good days. That's what recovery is all about.
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Old 08-30-2015, 07:38 AM
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Originally Posted by fantail View Post
I guess I sort of did... I went through a long period where I would relapse and quit again, and try to just see it as part of the process. It didn't work out very well for me. I found the relapses were much worse than my steady drinking had been... by the end of that time period they were hitting me like a train.

But no two people are alike! I was just giving up. It sounds like you in the past beat yourself up too much about relapsing and that lead to more relapse... so treating yourself with compassion sounds like a good idea to me. The only thing I'd suggest is to avoid convincing yourself that building a longer sobriety is going to require lots and lots of relapses. I met a very young guy in rehab who really, really wanted to leave. At one point he said, "This isn't the right time. Realistically, I'm not going to kick it right now. I mean, this is only my first rehab!" It scared me that because he knew so many people who'd been in and out of rehab for years, he assumed he'd need to do the same thing. He was convincing himself that leaving early and using again was just part of the process.
I too was in a detox with a young man who admitted that he would use drugs again and that it wouldn't be out of his system. I was also told that in rehab I would make lifelong friendships but this didn't happen and I mostly hated every day of it. I was with 6 other women in a big old house in the country. I couldn't get over how selfish they were and I couldn't wait to leave. At least 2 of them relapsed, 3 counting myself. I truly believe the disconnection from the outside world did no good at all. A community rehab with a chance to build immunity would have been more beneficial. Life is tough. If you ain't bolted together tightly you are gunna shake rattle and roll before you turn 30 (Stephen King)
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Old 08-30-2015, 08:14 AM
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I was also a chronic relapse case, but I don't believe for one second that relapse is a requirement for recovery. Motivation is key, and like IOAA2 said, you have to want to be sober more than you want to be in altered reality. For me, the pain of continuing to drink got to a point where it outweighed the pain of getting healthy by enough of a margin to force me to change.

The acceptance part was vital, and when I was able to accept that alcohol has a different, highly-detrimental effect on me, I was faced with the reality of the situation. That meant accepting some hard truths about myself as well, because ultimately, I was the one who chose to stay in the disease when I was fully aware that help and a better way of living were available. The disease may or may not have put me there, but when it came down to it, I was the one choosing to remain in the...erm...manure.

I'm screwed up. Mentally, emotionally, socially, and spiritually. When I first started drinking, alcohol seemed to make those difficulties easier to deal with. It gave me very real PERCIEVED benefits, but it didn't make me learn or grow when it came to the screwed up parts. It just masked them. So gettig sober means accepting MYSELF, as screwed up as I am, as well as accepting the pain of dealing with those difficulties in a healthy fashion that encorages growth and maturity. That stuff often comes from discomfort, but it's a discomfort that bears fruit, as opposed to futility characterized by pain, which is what my drinking had become.

I don't think "immunity" is applicable to me. I still have thoughts romanticizing drinking, even though intellectually, I know where that leads. So I'm clearly not imnune. I am, however, in recovery/remission/what-have-you since I have the disease at a manageable place.

Immunity means it doesn't affect me. That isn't my case. It affects me every day, but now I choose how it affects me rather than choosing to be a victim.
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Old 08-30-2015, 08:25 AM
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This approach worked for me in finally being successful in quitting smoking. Each time I started smoking again, I would soon miss being a non-smoker. I kept on quitting until I finally quit for good.

I used some of what I learned from that in trying to quit drinking for the second time around. I also knew it was important to not beat myself up, because guilt fuelled my drinking. I kept trying and trying over and over again.

The longest I lasted during this period was with the support of SR and I lasted 60 days.

After over 4 years of this, I finally accepted that what I was doing wasn't enough for me; I was too beaten down by all that trying. And more and more scared that it would kill me first. What finally worked for me was going back to my recovery meetings.
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Old 08-30-2015, 08:42 AM
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I have developed several different mental techniques to ward off relapsing. The first is to always remember that abstinence is the first and only line of defense for an alcoholic. After the first drink there is no defense against drinking another AND yet another until I slip/slide into complete disintegration of my life style. I have to remember I'm a hard core alcoholic, there are no half way measures for me.
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Old 08-30-2015, 08:48 AM
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I'm guilty of beating myself up . Your post opened my eyes . The longest I had quit ( before this time) was 8 months . That's what I did & still do think of the time I lost or could have added to now . From now on I will say " I worked hard & was sober for 8 long months .
I did it then - that was wonderful . Now I'm just adding to - Not losing anything
Congrats on Day 4 !!
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Old 08-30-2015, 08:49 AM
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When I began to realize that not drinking was only a part (albeit the foundation) of recovery I became teachable. When I became teachable is when I learned from other what acceptance and willingness truly meant.

Ya'll told me a well rounded recovery may include some or all of these principles - Honesty, hope, faith, courage, integrity, willingness, humility, brotherly love, justice, perseverance, spirituality and service.

What I pull from your post is your willingness to be teachable!! That's was a huge key for me - setting aside my pride and ego and learning from others.

When I beat myself up over a slip, that is my ego telling me I'm better than that! It's pride in reverse. I don't do back flips on sobriety dates and I don't wallow in the muck when something doesn't work out cause it's not all about me

That helps!
Sound to me like you're growing
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Old 08-30-2015, 09:44 AM
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Thank you all so much for all your comments and support. It truly is amazing how many different paths people have taken.

As day 4 comes to a close and I remain sober, I am going to explore this path of acceptance (not giving up!) that relapses might happen and that does not make me a bad person. For these 4 short days it has made a positive difference for me. Going with the flow is a new and scary experience for me in any facet of my life, but underneath the anxiety there is the seed of serenity so long forgotten.

Joanne: I am the opposite of you it seems. I stopped a 3-5 pack a day habit cold turkey nearly a decade ago with not a single lapse, and every day since then I have been trying to figure out the magic of stopping the alcohol and I haven't. But I won't give up.

Good night all and thanks again.

KP
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Old 08-30-2015, 09:48 AM
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We can't change what we can't change and that includes the past, it's done, we have to move on and write a better next chapter to our lives!!

Great job on Day 4!! Keep pushing forward!!
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Old 08-30-2015, 10:27 AM
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congrats bud on day 4
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Old 08-30-2015, 12:36 PM
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Great decision, and job on 4, keep going!

When I found SR I saw mention of AVRT and RR , got a hold of and read their material and it really resonated with me. There's a lot of information about it here on SR in the Secular Connections forum.
Try saying to yourself "I will never drink again, and I will not change my mind" and then listen. Whatever negative thoughts that come to bare on that statement are the 'things' you need to build an immunity from. The AV(addictive voice) in AVRT, that part of your thinking that sees a relapse or return to drinking as either inconsequential or inevitable or both. Build an immunity against that thinking, starve it out by not relenting to it and feeding it more fuel. You can do it, wish you well
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Old 08-30-2015, 02:19 PM
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There are many approaches to sobriety. We are all different. I believe the key is to find something that you are comfortable with AND keeps you sober. Feelings of guilt and shame are human nature after a relapse, but beating yourself up does very little in terms of progress. If you approach a relapse as a learning experience, I personally believe that is what is important.
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Old 09-03-2015, 11:33 PM
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Some of you made the valid point that there is a danger that forgiveness might turn into permission to relapse. I spent some time thinking about what this meant to me, as forgiveness and acceptance are turning out to be very important to me.

I just did my August review (I am a nut about recording how I am doing on things that are important to me). In August I abstained from alcohol for 39% of the days (if you asked me before I checked the data I would have guessed 15%). In July, when I wasn't forgiving myself, this was 16% of the days. I think that for me, as long as that number keeps going up then I will be very happy.

Anyway, that's just me and I thought that I'd share.

KP
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