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Relapse was unthinkable…How did it happened?

Having worked with alcoholics and addicts from all over the world, the reasons for relapse amongst those with sobriety time seems to always point to same conditions--they stopped working their program. This blog is a synopsis of their stories.

I got sober and clean working the Twelve Steps and that was a miracle in my life, because for years the only thing on my mind, morning, noon and night, was how do I get high, stay high and get higher. The desire to drink or use drugs was gone. Life was great. Family relationships improved. I started working again and I even made a little money. Then I went on cruise control. I got cocky and complacent. My program began to waver.

The first principle I let go of was unselfish work with other alcoholics and addicts. This was my Twelveth Step. Intensive work with other alcoholics and addicts was too strenuous. I was too busy to carry the message to other suffering alcoholics and addicts, so I stopped working with newcomers and having fellowship with other recovered alcoholics and addicts.

Next to go was Step Eleven. First, I stopped meditating (listening to God) and eventually I also stopped praying to God (talking to God). My conscious contact with God diminished. What used to be an intuitive direction became muddle confusion.

Next, Step Ten ceased to be part of my daily routine. Why bother with the minutia of daily life. I stopped watching for selfishness, dishonesty, resentment and fear. I stopped asking God for guidance. I stopped discussing my shortcomings with others. I didn't bother to clean up my mistakes or make amends for my wrongdoings nor did I bother to turn my thoughts to someone I could help.

When I quit working my daily program of action, my spiritual fitness began to wane. I no longer had a burning desire to clean up my past and set matters right. I discarded my Step Eight list of people I had harmed and ceased to make any further direct amends as suggested in Step Nine. Guilt, shame and remorse over the things I had done in the past began to creep back into my thoughts disturbing my peace of mind and serenity.

When I gave up prayer and meditation, Step Seven ceased being a part of my evening prayer and meditation. I no longer asked God to remove my defects of character nor did I ask God to give me strength to be honest, pure, unselfish and loving. With that, I ceased doing Step Six. I failed to see the futility and the fatality my character defects and their terrible destructiveness. My shortcomings were no longer objectionable and became unwilling to let them go.

I no longer did confessed my shortcomings with others (Step Five) because I also stopped taking a fearless and moral inventory of myself (Step Four). Resentments, fears, and harms to others began to pile up and I once again became blocked from the sunlight of the spirit.

Next, I stopped doing my Step Three Morning Prayer and meditation. I no longer turned my will and my life over to God. I had better ideas. A hundred forms of fear, self-delusion, self-seeking and self-pity drove me to selfishness and self-centered behaviours. I gave up searching for the great reality deep down within me. I became unwilling to believe in a Power Greater than myself. I lost my Step Two and lack of power became my dilemma once more.

Without power, I had no defense against the first drink or drug. My sound reasoning failed to hold me in check. The insane idea won out. All had gone well for time and relapse was unthinkable, but I failed to enlarge my spiritual life and to my consternation, I found myself drunk and high in a very short time. I was once again powerless over alcohol and all mind altering substances and my life had become unmanageable. I was back to Step One.

Recovery is not a short sprint...it's a marathon for life!

It has been my experience of working with hundreds of alcoholics and addicts around the world is that most untreated alcoholics/addicts will fail because "half measures avail us nothing". Easier softer ways often prevail and many are baffled as to why they relapse. Ultimately, if they be alcoholics or addicts of the hopeless variety, it's because they do not thoroughly follow our program of action.

2 Responses

  1. Gregg G says:

    Hey, it takes what it takes to be here and now, you’re not dead so all is not lost to others memory. My last drink was my last drink…Today I have recovered. I am willing.

    I’m not you and am not wanting to appear critical but we all know this is a public forum so opinions are welcome right? You’ve put a lot of thought into this post and it all makes sense, actually you could rearrange a few things and still cater to many who trudge the road..You could probably have a completely different explanation for your calamity and just as many would identify with your plight..I have learned this lesson..Maybe this thought would be a good starting point this time..I know for me, just because I think it doesn’t make it right, just because I live it doesn’t make it so for everyone. If I’m willing to look at those who have different approaches to the same path as sharing the common bond I see myself as a power of example and not the example of power with my pictures and diagrams on who said what when and how it’s supposed to be, always in need of validation from people…We all have a right to be here? How can that be when I believe in myself, my Big Book program, the original text Big Book Step-work.. You don’t do as I do so how could you get what I get? Maybe it’s my attitude of intolerance that sabotages my relationship with God and brings back my fear of people, I fail to grow in understanding and effectiveness because I’m fine as a Step sponsor who speaks and everybody listens, or call it what it is, a people worshiper…The producer of confusion even though my motives are good…

    I am of no good use to the new man when I am intolerant of Joe and Charlie Expect a Miracle or Primary Purpose or Hyannis.

    If I’m filled with history and theory that arouses general discussion of anything from Townes Hospital discovery to Silkworth’s middle name, I may be off track a bit..I myself like the information but I do drift away from my primary purpose with regards to the Alcoholic man who still suffers.

    So as much as this may offend others in and around the Big Book camps I’d like to suggest heart, read Bills Story.

    Anyway just some thought, don’t give up on yourself and pray for the courage and strength to care enough to take action in the new day today. Hopefully for the benefit of us both I’ll see you around as we travel the Spiritual path day by day..

    It’s great to be a part of something that feels right, for some of us the only thing we’ve ever done right, something that offers courage and strength never mind answers to age old questions like the psychic change brought on with the Higher Powers direction through the 12 Steps laid out in the Big Book..

  2. Vivian guglietti says:

    Super helpful and insightful

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