Archive for the ‘Relapse’ Category

Arise from Broken   2 comments

There are only two ways to truly fail: Fail to try and fail to try again.

To fail and try again shows even more strength and courage

than to have never failed at all.

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Out of the Darkness a Light Arises   1 comment

I hope that you all will be as encouraged as I was when I read this message from a friend and fellow traveler on the “Road to Recovery”. Thanks for sharing it with us Tiffany!

My testimony, hope it encourages someone today, I’m a believer who struggled with alcohol and codependency. The insanity of my life before recovery, I was already born into an addictive family. Now this part of my story is important because this is how it began and why I chose the path I did. My dad was codependent and based his life on addictive behaviors on alcohol, drugs, money and woman. My mom was really heavy into drugs and alcohol as well. That is where I come in, my dad was married and had a family with someone and my mom was his nanny, I was the creation of their chaos. When I was two my mom was so messed up on drugs that she had abandoned me, she left me unattended for three weeks, remember my age only two. The only reason I am alive today from that period of time was a neighbor lady that heard me crying, she called someone and told them they haven’t seen anyone in that house for at least three weeks, she then called the police, I was sitting there in the corner soiled diaper, blanket and in the cross legged position, with barely any energy to move, still not sure how I had enough energy to cry. They ended up putting me in the hospital for dehydration, they were wondering how I was still alive, and the only thing I know sure was God himself. They ended finding my dad for he was already moved on with another family somewhere in Medford, Wisconsin and he came to pick me up. He was moved in with another family so I gained a stepmother and a brother and sister whom my dad had adopted. And at the age of two my mother neglected me to the point my legs were stuck in a sitting position, I didn’t learn how to walk until age three, that is what can happen to a child if they are not taken care of and what drugs can do to a person. I later found out that the reason I was stuck in this position is because I was sexually abused by my father, a lot of men that my mom partied with and my grandpa, this was the position I would sit after it happened to me being scared. Through this time my dad had spent time on his business and was very much absent in my life. His new addiction had become working and money. While he was busy with that he sent me to private school so we would look like we had the perfect family on the outside and the inside. My dad had the money the perfect family, the luxury vehicles he had everything from what people could see, at least that’s what it looked like from the outside. On the inside it was far from perfect. While my father was gone with business my stepmother was a very sad and angry woman. She was physically and verbally abusive to me for many years of my life until I was fifteen. During these years, I was going to private school and I knew then and there I was not like everyone else. I never seem to feel like I belonged anywhere no matter what I did. I was top in cheerleading and I was the track star, yet still never felt like I belonged, from the outside it seemed like I had it all together but on the inside I was dying and felt very lost. No matter how many people were around I felt very alone always. As I mentioned before my stepmother was very much emotionally and severely physically abusive to me on a daily basis, I never knew what the day was going to bring. Finally one day my brother had had enough of the abuse he was involved as well, she had bashed both of our heads together before school, he then told school about it that morning and the police were called and we were put in a foster home. I was so lost I felt guilt feeling it was my entire fault, rejected by my dad and wondering what was next. I stayed in a foster home for about two weeks, then my mother, yes my birth mother was informed and she asked the county to give me to her. So they sent me to Red Wing to go live with her. She took me in because she knew that the child support checks would be huge. She also was remarried at the time and they both used drugs and drink together, that is where all the child support went to, their drugs and alcohol. Everyday was a mystery as to what mood she was in and wondering if I could just run and hide, she would have parties always at the house and she was also emotionally and physically abusive to me as well. The words that killed the most daily were the words she told me that I was a mistake and I ruined her life, she always told me how ugly I was and would never amount to nothing. You can imagine what that had done to my already broken image of myself. I felt more rejected than ever by my own mother and was always wondering what was wrong with me, I went to school in Red Wing for a very short time, again a time where I didn’t feel like I belonged, this was the point in my life where I didn’t even know where life was bringing me anymore, I was lost and rejected by my father and my mother for the second time, this point of my life I just tried giving up. The school could tell something was going on at the home, they took me into the office, I knew the drill ask questions, try not to answer without having fear in my voice of what would happen if they sent me back home. From that moment on they called police and the county had me removed from the home, and then later on the county had declared my mother unfit and they legally emancipated me from her. Once the county has custody over you they can place you wherever they want, so at age sixteen I was tossed from here to there crisis centers, more foster homes, just really anywhere they had a spot for me, this went on for two years until I was eighteen. I had no sense of self, no meaning to life, still lost and wondering what to do next. Well I started drinking and then people started liking me I finally felt like I fit in, people actually liked me and they had something in common with me they liked to drink as much as I did. I at the time lived in Rochester, Minnesota and hung out with the wrong crowd, finally had gotten my own place and of course me being the people pleaser, here was this small town girl hanging out with thugs and drug dealers, not knowing the danger I was getting myself into. At that moment all I cared about was having people that accepted me, and getting drunk and having fun, for once in my life I was actually having fun and people loved me, at least so I thought. There was always parties and people I didn’t know at my house, but I didn’t care they brought over the drinks and all was well. This all stopped when my friends boyfriend came over with two of his boys, I can still picture it to this day, they knocked on the door sounded very angry, they packed guns under their jacket and told us to be still while they just stood with their guns revealed to us, they were stranding there and handled their business with her boyfriend in the other room, I’m guessing he ripped them off. I have never sat still in my life I had no idea if they were going to kill us right at the spot or let us go after they were done, I never experienced anything like this so I didn’t know what it all partook of. Well by the grace of God I’m still here. From that day on I no longer let anyone in my apartment that I didn’t know and I stopped partying for awhile and during that time I lost my apartment because of everything that went on there, because when you’re drinking you don’t really care about anything or anyone else around you. I became homeless lived in a shelter for quite some time and then found a friend that needed a roommate, and then the drinking began again. When I drink I could never have just one I always had to drink to become numb I didn’t want to feel any feelings or remember how rejected I felt. The number the better, I at that point didn’t care at that moment if I lived or if my life was taken, I was pretty hopeless. Well at age nineteen with all the partying I did, I met someone that told me he loved me and of course I believed him, I fell in love, well so I thought and we decided that we were so in love, well during this time me and my roommate had partied our way out of that apartment as well, so I ended up out of desperation calling my mother, yes I put myself back in that situation, I had no other choice, but this is just the beginning of my nightmare that I didn’t realize was going to happen. Well me and this guy that we were so in love ended up moving in with my mom. This is when my mom finally tried to be my friend and bought me alcohol whenever I needed it and this also was the time when I found out the true colors of this man, he became verbally, physically and sexually abusive to me. My mom knew that he was physically abusive she heard and saw it and she didn’t care, she actually told me its all that I will ever deserve, can you believe that I believed her. She bought the marriage license for him and told me we were going to get married through the courts, I was scared what was I going to do say no. I was married to this man for three years, we moved into our own place and that is when I was shut away from the world for three years, no phone, no social life if I took too long to bring the garbage out I would get severe punishment. We would get along for awhile when would drink than he would get very angry and out of control, that is when it got really bad, I would just drink more so I wouldn’t have to feel pain or emotion I literally everyday tried to numb any feelings that I would have. I ended up having a son with him, while I was pregnant he would throw full beer cans at my stomach, try and throw me down the stairs, cheat on my in front of me, there was never a time when I wasn’t scared and when I had my son Dante it was no better. He would just abuse me in front of my son and continue to drink and it got to a point when my son was crying in the bathtub and he told him to make him stop crying and he then came into the bathroom and stuck my sons head under the water, he said if I cried or said anything I would get it, so I had to sit there and watch him put my sons head under water afraid if he was going to live or die and I was crying so hard trying not to make a sound just wanting to lift him out and comfort him. Can you imagine the guilt I carried around having to watch that and what I was putting my child through because of this, it finally came to an end after the third year, he tried to take my life by strangulation and I finally got some courage ran out the door and called the police. They came and arrested him. It was just me and my son alone. I had no job he didn’t let me work, I was so lost. This is where I became the person I swore I never would be. After we got divorced I would start drinking until I couldn’t drink anymore when my son was asleep. My drinking got to the point where I ended up leaving my son at home by himself while he was sleeping so I could go drink, how selfish was I. this was my breaking point, I looked back on my life and saw what I had to go through without two parents and a stable environment and it was then I made the biggest decision of my life for my sons sake. I gave my son Dante up for adoption when he was two so he could have the life and family I never had and everything that I couldn’t offer him. This happened I felt like I failed as a person, a mother, a daughter I was just living in allot of self blame for everything that had happened in my life. My life was still a mystery and I still kept messing up. After the adoption, you guessed it I started drinking like a fish I was becoming a regular at the bars in red wing, dj.s knew what songs to play when I already got there, I just wanted to numb myself once again and didn’t care about what happened to me, I had no self dignity anymore, I gave myself away and kept getting drunk, it finally started to consume to a point where I couldn’t function unless I had alcohol in my system. I continually accepted anyone who accepted me and gave myself away because I had no self worth or dignity anymore and at that time in my mind that is all I deserved. And of course because of my codependency I met a man about a year after I was divorced, he seemed like the normal guy, super nice at first treated me like a princess bought me lots of things, I had never received anything like this before, it was amazing for the moment. We decided that we would get married and so we made wedding plans we partied together always, so we thought we had tons in common, little did I know that’s all we had in common besides the point he finally treated me like a human being he made me feel loved. He began to become emotionally abusive and when he was drinking he would sometime force himself on me even when I would say no, I had to just lay there and cry. Eventually I ended up pregnant and we had son together, things seemed to be getting better, wedding was on the way, he was treating me a little better, but it just got to be a breaking point when I couldn’t take the emotional stuff anymore. Money and things were not enough for me to be happy he couldn’t buy my happiness anymore. I ended up leaving and he decided to tell me I will never make it on my own and that nobody would ever want me after he was done. Well he made the not making it, again I was a stay at home mom, he wouldn’t let me work, so after I left, lost the apartment, he just kept filling my head with negativity, he used my abusive past against me and knew that family in Anthony’s life was important to me, so he made me believe that if I give him full custody of Anthony would be the best thing for him, and at that moment and time he had me so much emotionally destroyed I actually believed him and I ended up giving him full custody of my son. Here comes another failure to me in my life, so what do you think I did, of course started drinking and numbing myself, every time he called he would remind me that Anthony is happier there and said he is better off there, so when I heard this I thought in my own mind at that time that my son didn’t need me and that I would just mess up his life if I was in it, because that is what I continued to hear, so I actually believed it, its been almost two years since I have seen him now and his dad still likes to make stabs at me, I’m in hope that it is never too late to build up that relationship his father took away from me. During this time I had more guilt and shame and negative messages that I just wanted to numb away so I went back to drinking, you would think after all of this, I would have hit my rock bottom by now but I was far from it. I still continued to drink and give myself away because if I couldn’t feel any worse or have any value it kept going downhill and so did my dignity. A year later I met someone else and he was nice at first, see this is the insanity part after everything that had happened I just thought I needed someone to fill that void, so here I go again.Codependancy and alcohol were huge battles that I had to overcome. He was nice but he would always yell at me and put me down in front of other people and at this point I just didn’t care anymore, I thought this is how I am supposed to be treated so I put up with it, I just got to a point in my life that I was just going to settle for anything, no matter how I was treated. While I was with him on the weekends it was after work, he ended up yelling at me and I ended up going out and numbing up what I had just heard and of course everything else that I have been avoiding forever. This is the night I almost lost my life, I don’t really recall much from that night how I got my keys or where I was driving to, I remember waking up in the hospital with blood all over my face and in my hair and the doctor telling me I had gotten into an accident. I ended up with a concussion and biting through my lip, I have a scare there to remind me everyday how it happened. I ended up being a .22 alcohol level. Again it is by God’s grace I am here, the ambulance driver even came back and said I shouldn’t even be here and that someone was watching over me because the amount of blood I had lost would have killed someone and where I had hit, if I would have hit any harder I would have right over the edge and it was a dark place where trains passed through nobody would have found me. This was my wake up call, but it wasn’t enough. I ended up putting myself into outpatient treatment and going like I should. But when you live in red wing and you’re an alcoholic and going across the bridge to thirsty Thursday was the topic of discussion in class what do you think me and half the other class did, went to thirsty Thursday and drink the cold beer we were trying no to think about or crave. So almost losing my life and outpatient treatment wasn’t obviously enough. I got to a point where I had to go and say lock me away from all alcohol I need impatient care, please I really can’t do this. I finally got to go to inpatient treatment at Albert lea fountain centers. It was the best experience of my life. That is when I knew that all I had in common with nick and all my other friends were drinking but with my codependency I thought nick was the best I could get. We ended up together for three years and we had my son Devon together. He was emotionally abusive to me it was consistent put downs all the time that is all I heard. I was his secret; he didn’t tell his family about me being in his life or me being pregnant until the day before I had him. I was smaller than an average seven month pregnant woman, I ended up having Devon two months early, I was with him in the NICU for six weeks, his dad would come now and then, he was always too busy drinking, he would consistently call me and put me down he even came to the NICU drunk one day, it was embarrassing and he started yelling at me and I just took it all in, I stayed with him for two more years thinking things would get better they didn’t, it just got worse, the only time we got along was when we drink otherwise it was like I was living with a stranger, I would pretend to fall asleep on the couch so I wouldn’t have to deal with him anymore I did this for almost a year and a half, and when we to his family, I would pretend to have the happy family face on. The third year I finally reached my turning point I wasn’t putting up with it anymore, I left, I left everything behind and me and Devon moved to a shelter in St.Cloud,it was scary but its what had to be done for me and my sons happiness. I swore in my mind no more bad relationships. I stayed sober for three years was really involved and then got too comfortable. I though I could be a norm again, why do we always think that. I was thinking and making myself believe I could have just one, well I could for awhile and then that’s when it of course took a turn for the worst. On the weekends I didn’t have Devon I would go drink it wasn’t to search anymore it was just to drink, I didn’t need to talk to anyone I just wanted to be numb, I just got to point where I didn’t want to do it anymore so by God’s grace I quit and started celebrate recovery. I wasn’t going to mess this time up. I ended up giving my testimony right away and it was amazing experience for me. I had always had that love for God in me, but at my darkest moments through these times I didn’t think that I deserved God’s grace or forgiveness, I was very angry with him. Between being at the shelter and going to church and being able to go to celebrate recovery really helped me out. I was doing really well, until I find out my dad is in hospital critical condition, I go to Wisconsin to be by his side, praying for him and just holding his hand, he was unable to speak, I had so many questions and so much to say, but I just held his hand until the moment he took his last breath. This was very hard for me to take in. The things left unsaid not knowing if my dad was saved and his greed had been buried with him, he was so obsessed with material possessions that he was buried in an actual Mercedes Benz coffin, this just reminded me every time I saw this that he had not only abandoned me but another family for his money and business, it was hard to take all in, I just learned this much that he was hurting too. But with this came a relapse, again drinking it all away, I right at this very moment wanted to end it all, I wanted to just never wake up, what a selfish thing, but that is how I felt, so I continued drink that whole week after dad died, didn’t have Devon so why not just get obliviated and not have to think about anything. This was a year ago today. I was done doing this self pity party I had for myself after that week and gave up the drinking again. I was doing very well staying in the program again life was good for the drinking part. Me and Devon were still in transition moving everywhere, I felt like I failed my son for having to move so much and the what ifs started kicking in, if I only would have stayed Devon would be happy. I started getting back into the dating world this time I wasn’t drinking and so I thought just maybe ill find that right person. I was still in control of my own choices I wasn’t letting God make the choices for me and here comes that codependency thing again. I was very strong in my faith but I guess not ready for God to take that whole wheel yet, I asked him to, but I still wanted to steer. I got into this relationship with a man that I met online, ok I am going to speak a little in my flesh and say he was a boy mindset that was. We started dating and he told me everything I wanted to hear, he was Christian he was in recovery and he believes that it was God’s will that he was placed in my life.O.K. So I believed him for awhile we ended up thinking this was going good, we moved in together everything was going good. This is when God did some revealing to me, this is a man that had told me it was God’s will for us to be together but hadn’t even opened up a bible yet, every time I tried to leave he would always tell me God keeps telling me not to give up on us so of course in my mind I’m trying to believe him, I’m getting stronger in my faith in this time and I am feeling so disconnected to this man that God said personally this is not my will for you Tiffany you need to leave and leave now. This is my breaking point in my codependency was this very year a few months ago. I finally sat with him on the couch and said this isn’t working; I don’t want to be a part of this any longer, I’m leaving. Something was different this time I was at peace, it wasn’t like I wasn’t hurt at all or sad, but I was at peace because I finally heard God say this to me and he would take care of me. Even though I feel like another failed relationship I do know this much. God has given me a new courage a new boldness, its very hard to explain, I don’t have to depend on anyone making me happy, the thought about having to please others and what other people think of me is gone, see the difference between then and now is I’m heaven minded not focused on the earthly things or people of this world to know that I am loved or accepted. I have an awesome father who loves me and accepts me for who I am and what I have done he has never left me or forsaken me. People will always fail you but God never will. I know now that when the time is right God will put that right person in my life, this time I’m walking in obedience and this time I’m not worried about when its going to happen, in his timing it will be done. So by God’s grace I have overcome alcohol and codependency only through his grace there is no other explanation, I have proven otherwise that I can’t do it on my own. God has been with me every step of this journey he is literally all I have had in this journey and still is, but I know this even when I didn’t think he was there, he was, he was just waiting for me to come to him and be fully submissive to him. If you don’t think miracles can happen I don’t know what else I can say, I am living walking proof that God is real just by me being here and telling you my story, the enemy wanted to destroy my will to share this with you, he instilled fear in me, but God gave me boldness to share this because its not what you think of me that matters its what God thinks of me that matters, even if my story only touches one persons heart, then I have done my job. The good part of the story is just beginning I completely gave my life and my heart to God I mean completely to him, I made a pledge to God and myself that he is taking full control of the wheel of my life and in his timing when he sets the right one in my life I’m saving myself for marriage because I am not worried anymore about people opinions, God is the one opinion that matters.Im telling you this because since I have made this step of faith, God told me to get a place of my own not knowing how I was going to gather the money up so fast, and remember when I said I left everything behind, we did. Just clothes are all we had. I hope this encourages somebody, you need to believe in faith, the big leap of faith, that’s what I did, God rewarded me with the money I needed the very day before I needed to move in and piece by piece he is providing me with what me and Devon need, I am so amazed by how good God is, this is what can happen if we give complete control and walk in obedience with the Lord, he will bless you beyond what you can ever imagine. So I hope that will instill hope in someone’s heart the impossible can come true you just need to take that blind leap of faith and keep pressing on. This program has completely changed my life all by God’s grace. My journey God has given me, he is going to use me to minister to abused woman and children that’s a recovery of life to celebrate. Thank you Jesus!!

Recovery without Faith…   Leave a comment


Recovery without faith is like running a race chained to the starting line. You make some progress, but you always end up back where you started.

Overcome!   Leave a comment

Opposition is a natural part of life. Just as we develop our physical muscles through overcoming opposition – such as lifting weights – we develop our character muscles by overcoming challenges and adversity.”

Stephen R. Covey

Paradox of Shadows   3 comments

Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death…. Psalm 23:4

A Funny thing happened on my way …to write my next article. My plan and inspiration got absolutely HIGH-jacked, if you know what I mean.

I can’t even remember now where I had heard the following quote, but I remember, thinking “Wow, that’s deep”, when I first heard it. However, as I sat down to start pondering on it and starting writing, I found myself being pulled in another whole different direction completely, which was only tangentially connected to the original thoughts.

They see only their own shadows or the shadows of one another, which the fire throws on the opposite wall of the cave” Plato

It started in the shadows and well it suffices to say, my intellectual thinking was blown away, as the thoughts and insights were coming so fast, that I could barely keep up. I will start with a piece of it here and then will be “developing” the other concepts in at least one other follow-up article. I promise you one thing, when all is said and done, you will never see a shadow the same way.

Well, I’m ready; I hope that you’re ready to hang on for a ride.

So lets start where I did, “in the shadows”. What is a shadow?

MIrriam-Webster’s Dictionary defines it as: “partial darkness or obscurity within a part of space from which rays from a source of light are cut off by an interposed opaque body”

OK, now in English please… “an area of darkness that is created when something blocks lightMacmillan Dictionary

So what is required for a shadow to be created?

  • A light source and
  • An object to partially block the light.

This brings me to my first point:

There can be no shadow without light being present.

I know I just said that, it is the definition. What is so inspiring about that?

I challenge you to think a little more abstract and symbolically for just a bit. We will be bouncing to and fro between abstract and concrete.

We have all gone through “dark” times, shadows, if you will in our lives. My guess is that many of you may be finding yourself in the “shadows” even now. Being in the shadows can be a cold, damp and scary place. It often feels like there is no hope. When walking in the shadows it is easy to misstep and further hindering our progress. It is also true that we all have shadows and dark places in our lives. Some are only partially shaded, while others, if we are honest with ourselves, we can not remember the last time that we allowed them out enough to even give the light a chance and shining upon them. They are deep painful “ugly”cubbies and corners that we are honestly afraid to shine light on, because it just hurts too badly to even look at it. They are major traumatic experiences that have altered the very direction of our lives.

BUT, my dear friends, brothers and sisters, be of good courage, there IS hope!

Remember, what did we just say about shadows? In order for there to be a shadow there MUST be a source of light. More specifically The LIGHT is our source. Even when we are in the midst of the shadows The Light is there with us in the midst of our trials. We may not see or feel it, but it is true nonetheless.

I am the light of the world. John 8:12

God is light, and in Him is no darkness at all. 1John 1:5

It does not matter how painful or dark our shadows, His desire that we would allow His Light to shine in these areas. When we walk with HIM in the light then we walk in LIFE.

When Jesus spoke again to the people, he said, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” John 8:12

But if we walk in the light as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin. I John 1:7

Surely he took up our infirmities and carried our sorrows, yet we considered him stricken by God, smitten by him, and afflicted. But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon him, and by his wounds we are healed. Isaiah 53:4-6

You can only see the shadows if you are not walking toward the light.

So my friends, I urge you turn your face TOWARDS The Light, to serve and follow HIM. When we walk truly with Him, we walk in the light and in the is LIFE, JOY, PEACE, REST, HOPE….

Even then there are going to be battles and trials and struggles, but as we have seen in the shadows in the trial in the struggles HE is there. Not only is there, He can empathize and shows forth His compassion to us.

For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin. Hebrews 4:15

No temptation has seized you except what is common to man. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it. I Corinthians 10:13

Here comes probably the hardest point to accept out of this entire lesson.

Struggles and Trials are GOOD, They develop character and ultimately make us more like HIM.

Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, 3 because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. 4 Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. 5 If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him. James 1:2-5

I know some of you are thinking to yourselves, “So GOD caused all of the trials, darkness and shadows in my past, to build my character?”

ABSOLUTELY NOT”

Yes, he may have “allowed” some things to happen, but that is simply because He has limited Himself and will not interfere in the will of man. The “hell” that many of have experienced WAS NOT His plan and purpose for our lives, but the consequence of the will, choices and behaviors of others. We also have our own will, which has also led to some of the consequences and “shadows” that we have experienced. He is a God of LOVE, Compassion, Mercy and Grace whose desire is that ALL would be saved and Walk in the light, Truth and Life!

…God our Savior, who wants all people to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth. 1 Timothy 2:4

But you, Lord, are a compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness. Psalm 86:15

As we turn towards the light, and walk in Him, then He will begin the work of healing those very same wounds and scars. Even we turn and walk away choosing as it where the shadows over the light. Because even the light it is difficult path and will believe TOO difficult at times, but keep at it, in the end the destination and rewards at the end of the journey will be worth it.

Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it. Matthew 7:13-14

I don’t know about you, but I have suffered enough in the wounds of the past, and though the journey will be hard, I have The Light leading me in in The Way so that I will know The Truth and truly experience The Life that He has planned for me.

Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. John 14:6

I make a willful choice and I choice to “Walk in The Light” and as I do the shadows will only be passing, because I my eyes are focused on the “Source” of all Light!

Will come walk with me.

**Coming Soon**

More on the Shadows and a detailed look at a portion of the 23rd Psalm.

Relapse   Leave a comment

Well after  waht feels like FOREVER, I have actually come back to complete an actual “article”. I hope that you will find it helpful to you in your struggles with very important issue.

A special thank you to Carol Rhodes a friend, fellow traveler and reader of Road to Recovery for suggesting this topic. 

Recognizing and heeding the warning signs of relapse instead of letting it sneak up on you!

It does not matter whether your struggles are with mental illness, substance abuse/dependence or both, relapse always seems to be waiting to pounce just around the next corner. However, if we learn to be more observant we can avoid letting it sneak up on us.

Professionals on the Recovery industry have long stated that an individual is already in relapse long before they take their first drink. In short, relapse is not simply based on your behaviors; it starts in your thoughts and attitudes. These ultimately are realized in our words and behaviors.

 Let me share with you an example of an acquaintance that is currently struggling in her recovery. She recently intentionally overdosed on prescription medication not once but twice within one week. However, she was long into her relapse before the first pill had been swallowed. Why? She was already thinking about it, planning and ultimately, envisioning herself actually doing it including imagining how it was going to make her feel. By that time she was in full blown relapse whether she took no pills or 50. Her taking the pills was simply the outward expression of her internal relapse.

 With that in mind, I have compiled a number of resources that I hope that you will find helpful in your efforts to avoid relapse as you continue on your journey.

 Relapse Warning Signs and Symptoms

Experiencing Post Acute Withdrawal: I start having problems with one or more of the following; thinking difficulties, emotional overreaction problems, sleep disturbances, memory difficulties, becoming accident prone, and/or starting to experience a serious sensitivity to stress.

Return To Denial: I stop telling others what I’m thinking/feeling and start trying to convince myself or others that everything is all right, when in fact it is not.

 

Avoidance And Defensive Behavior: I start avoiding people who will give me honest feedback and/or I start becoming irritable and angry with them.

Starting To Crisis Build: I start to notice that ordinary everyday problems become overwhelming and no matter how hard I try, I can’t solve my problems.

Feeling Immobilized (Stuck): I start believing that there is nowhere to turn and no way to solve my problems. I feel trapped and start to use magical thinking.

Becoming Depressed: I start feeling down-in-the dumps and have very low energy. I may even become so depressed that I start thinking of suicide.

Compulsive And/Or Impulsive Behaviors (Loss Of Control): I start using one or more of the following- food, sex, caffeine, nicotine, work, gambling, etc. often in an out of control fashion. And/or I may react without thinking of the consequences of my behavior on myself and others.

Urges And Cravings (Thinking About Drinking/Using): I begin to think that alcohol/drug use is the only way to feel better. I start thinking about justifications to drink/use and convince myself that using is the logical thing to do.

Chemical Loss Of Control (Drinking/Using): I find myself drinking/using again to solve my problems. I start to believe that “it’s all over ‘till I hit bottom, so I may as well enjoy this relapse while it’s good.” My problems continue to get worse.

Adapted from Terence T. Gorski’s Warning Sign Identification Process

THE TEN MOST COMMON RELAPSE DANGERS

  1. Being in the presence of drugs or alcohol, drug or alcohol users, or places where you used or bought chemicals.
  2. Feelings we perceive as negative, particularly anger; also sadness, loneliness, guilt, fear, and anxiety.
  3. Positive feelings that make you want to celebrate.
  4. Boredom.
  5. Getting high on any drug.
  6. Physical pain.
  7. Listening to war stories and just dwelling on getting high.
  8. Suddenly having a lot of cash.
  9. Using prescription drugs that can get you high even if you use them properly.

10.  Believing that you no longer have to worry (complacent). That is, that you are no longer stimulated to crave drugs/alcohol by any of the above situations, or by anything else – and therefore maybe it’s safe for you to use occasionally.

RELAPSE ATTITUDES

(If you find yourself with any or many of these attitudes there is a very good chance that you are already in relapse.

SOBRIETY IS BORING
I’LL NEVER DRINK/USE AGAIN
I CAN DO IT MYSELF
I’M NOT AS BAD AS …..
I OWE THIS ONE TO ME
MY PROBLEMS CAN’T BE SOLVED
I WISH I WAS HAPPY
I DON’T CARE
IF NOBODY ELSE CARES, WHY SHOULD I?
THINGS HAVE CHANGED
I CAN SUBSTITUTE
THEY DON’T KNOW WHAT THEY ARE TALKING ABOUT
THERE’S GOT TO BE A BETTER WAY
I CAN’T CHANGE THE WAY I THINK
IF I MOVE, EVERYTHING WILL CHANGE
I LIKE MY OLD FRIENDS
I CAN DO THINGS DIFFERENTLY NOBODY NEEDS TO KNOW HOW I FEEL
I’M DEPRESSED
I SEE THINGS MY WAY ONLY
I FEEL HOPELESS
I CAN HANDLE IT
IF I HIDE BEHIND EVERYONE ELSE’S PROBLEMS, I WON’T
HAVE TO FACE MY OWN
I CAN’T DO IT
WHY TRY

THE EVENT: A RETURN TO THE USE OF ALCOHOL AND/OR DRUGS.

 

Additional Relapse Attitudes and Risk Factors

Oddly enough when you edit the ‘blah, blah, blah’ of the individual explanation or rationalization, it comes down to some really basic addictive thinking errors. 

If you are still in addiction recovery and any of these thoughts start swirling around in your head, run, don’t walk, do not pass go, head right to the nearest 12 step meeting, call your counselor or someone who knows your story. This type of addictive thinking is the beginning of the relapse process, and your job is to interrupt and not act on these destructive thoughts. OK here we go…

1. It/I wasn’t so bad…(when I was using). I said this to my sponsor once, he looked me right in the eye and said “Yes it was”. I shut up

2. It wasn’t ________ that was my problem it was __________. For example fill in alcohol/my job or alcohol/cocaine, or alcohol/stress.

3. I’ve been sober for X # days/#months/#years, I can have just one.

4. I’m all treatmented/meetinged out, I need a break.

5. Becoming complacent.

6. Not keeping sobriety a number one priority.

7. Not changing yourself, people, places and things.

8. Becoming a recovery guru (to the exclusion of your own program)

9. Attempting a little controlled using.

10. Not having a support system in place for crisis.

Those are some examples of relapse thinking and dangerous places to be in. Now I’ll give you my opinion of the greatest relapse prevention toll there is. It is not dependent on intelligence, gender or economic status and it is something we can all pull off if pressed. Are you ready? Here is the secret answer…Awareness and Persistence.

Relapse Prevention

We MUST maintain our vigilant effort to maintain our recovery. We MUST have a recovery plan and stick to it. Develop a routine and stick to it as best as possible. Keep your hands and mind active and engaged; busy hands and a busy mind leave fewer opportunities for us to focus on symptoms and think negatively. MANY of have relapsed in the past and some will again, but you do NOT have to.  Whether we relapse or not is based solely on our willingness to stick to our program, and our ability/willingness to continue to make positive healthy choices, even when they are difficult and even painful at times.   Brief example: I have been best friends with “James” since we were in Jr High. We now have group of guys that have “poker night” every couple of weeks. As can be expected, it entails a lot of drinking and occasional use of other substances. If I truly am going to prioritize my recovery and sobriety, then I must make the difficult and painful decision to no longer participate in Poker Night, unless the entire group is willing to give up substance use, at least while we are playing.

One final yet simple thought regarding avoiding relapse and coping with early signs of it. I encourage you to try a simple system, I call it AAA (Triple A).

A-AWARENESS: I must learn about my illness and be AWARE of my symptoms and the triggers that can initiate them. (Keep a trigger/symptom journal).

 A- ACKNOWLEDGE: Not only do I have to recognize that I am having symptoms, I must ACKNOWLEDGE them we they are present. STOP living in denial (You will drown there.) Part of ACKNOWLEDGING is developing a plan for managing the symptoms or coping with difficult/stressful situations. Finally,

A- ACTION: Now that you have a Recovery Plan take ACTION on it. Every plan that is not put into ACTION is worthless.

 Be wise, watch closely where you are and with whom you are with. You are you own BEST advocate when it comes to your sobriety and recovery, as you learn to self-monitor and self-regulate, you will grow stronger and wiser and your journey will become easier and easier.

REMEMBER… YOU are the one in control, not your illness. Declare to yourself and believe,

“I’m NOT sick, I have an illness”

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