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When relapse is a part of your story

 

Two recent, high-profile celebrity stories around substance use disorder: Ben Affleck returning to treatment for alcoholism and singer Demi Lovato’s very public relapse have captured the attention of a lot of people. Meanwhile, away from media attention, millions of recovering addicts stay clean and sober every day. Yes. relapses happen. Many, MANY people with long term sobriety have relapse as a part of their story. For some it can feel like a revolving door where they put together a little time only to go back out. Other people put together years before going back out.  Not everyone who gets sober relapses, but it can and does happen.  The point is to remember to Keep Coming Back. For those who might be feeling hopeless or confused as to how recovery happens, here is what we know:

  1. Recovery is an upward spiral, not a straight line zooming to a rainbow in the sky. Some days will be awful; some will be easy. Over time, the positive trend becomes obvious.
  2. A long recovery doesn’t provide a guarantee against relapse. Comedian Robin Williams was a “dry drunk” for 20 years before relapsing and then gaining a true sobriety. Addiction is patient. Remain vigilant!
  3. Sobriety can be trusted. Ironically, by recognizing our powerlessness over our addiction, we gain wells of strength to draw on during temptation and loss.
  4. Recovery may change some of our relationships. Everyone has been affected by our addiction; our recovery has an impact, too, even if it is what everyone has been wishing would happen. Work on your relationships.
  5. Team work makes the dream work. It may be a cliché, but it helps to surround ourselves with good role models and supportive people.

Use your resources. Read the literature, attend 12-step meetings, seek outside help when needed, practice healthy living, pray and meditate and always give back freely what you find. Finally, we can look at these celebrities and trust that beyond the headlines, the setbacks and the daunting nature of addition: recovery is possible.

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