Relapse is defined as the re occurrence of drug and alcohol abuse after a period of abstinence; what this word infers is another thing all together. For those of us who have never experienced addiction to alcohol or drugs a relapse is viewed as a failure ,and someone who relapsing is viewed as a person who has limited will power, and will ulitmately succum to their destructive behaviour. When I began blogging for the Oasis Movement almost two years ago, I developed what I thought was a unique and empathetic view of someone who was experiencing a relapse. I believed that it was an inevitable, and a crucial part of the rehabilitation process and in the end would benefit their overall endeavour of establishing a stable and positive life. I mean, where would we all be if all the inventors and scientists in our world gave up after failing? I would probably be writing this blog on a piece of paper and then tacking it to a community board in the village square for all to see. While today I still believe this, I have also recently come to learn that my perspective of the term “relapse” was quite facile, very simplistic, and one dimensional. It was only when I was reading a blog post from Shirley C Oasis Addiction and Recovery blogger and program graduate, that I came to understand that relapsing has a more insidious and destructive undertone. In her article aptly entitled “Relpase is More Than Drinking or Using Again…” Shirley C states that relapse is “…the progressive process of becoming so dysfunctional in recovery that self-medication with alcohol or drugs seems like a reasonable choice”. Contrary to popular belief, more often than not, it is not one singular trigger moment which upsets months or years of sobriety but rather the sum of many things slowly eroding the former addict’s positive and productive behaviours. Shirley tells us it can begin with something as simple as getting away with telling a lie and feeling good about it—and yet I wonder how can this be? Simple, integrity and being true to yourself are the cornerstones of recovery, when these principles begin to be overlooked, and deemed insignificant the foundations upon which your recovery rests upon become compromised.
How does one avoid relapse? Shirley points out self-awareness is critical to success, addressing any negative and destructive behaviours as they occur will head off the slow and inevitable descent into relapse. Boredom is another threat to sobriety and Shirley suggests filling in the hours of your day with activities that leave you feeling good about yourself. Volunteering your time an excellent way to accomplish this. Finally, Shirley suggests calling someone; call your sponsor, your family, your friends you do not have to do this on your own.
If you want to read some more of Shirley C’s brilliant blogs please go to http://www.oasismovement.org/category/experience-in-recovery/