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Helping Those Who Need It Most - One Day At A Time
Question and Answer


3. I was in recovery for 9 years very active and involved. Let myself drift away and 2 years ago started drinking. While I know what to "do", I just can’t seem to do it. Yes I know the slogan just do it. I am fast reaching the point of desperation and wonder what it will take for me to get back on track or if I will?

submitted by jmb


Your question is complex because there are actually many different issues that you mention. So I will attempt to address each one. First of all, there is the issue of relapse and what to do about it, which raises more questions. Is it wise to keep drinking and/or using? The answer to this question is self-evident. There is nothing wise about continued use. We know that addiction is chronic and progressive. Continued use will only make matters worse, it is not a matter of if it will get worse but when and how much worse it will get.

This brings us to the next issue, which is best described in the words of the serenity prayer – the courage to change the things I can. You do have a choice and can choose to do what takes courage. There may be many different roadblocks making that difficult – fear, depression, shame, and guilt may all be playing a role here. Your words “desperation” and “if I will” both suggest a sense of hopelessness. Depression, fear, shame and guilt all may add to that sense of hopelessness. At first glance this may look quite grim, but I believe that the part of you that “knows what to do” recognizes your powerlessness. This is a good thing because it is in that state of awareness that recovery begins or restarts. In our weakest moments, we often find the courage to admit defeat and find the strength to get the help we need. 
 Finally, I want to say a word or two about what you should do. I believe that following any relapse, two things must occur. These have nothing to do with the length or the severity of the relapse. First and foremost, there must be stabilization. Addiction is a bio-psycho-social-spiritual illness. You may need stabilization in just one of these areas or in all of them. So a question you may need to ask yourself is, “What must I do to get stable?” Do I need detoxification? Do I need to simply go back to meetings? Do I need the help of a counselor or therapist? Remember that stabilization must begin with abstinence. I can’t answer these questions for you? 
 The next thing I believe that is vital for your ongoing recovery is to determine what went wrong and what must be done to fix it? Many treatment programs will beat you over the head with Step One again and tell you that it is obvious that you haven’t surrendered or you are in denial. I do not believe this will help you. You know that you are addicted, and you know your life is spiraling out of control. You know Step One. What you don’t know is how to stay sober. Many reasons may have contributed to your relapse. You need to find out what they are and what you need to do to fix what was broken. If you do not do this you may relapse again. I would strongly encourage you to see a Relapse Prevention Specialist. If you will tell me where you live, I would be happy to recommend someone to contact who can help you sort through all these issues. Find out where you got stuck. Find out what led you down the road to relapse. Find out what you need to do differently so that it does not happen again. Recovery begins with something you have already done – honestly admitting you have a problem. You already have started to do what you know you must do. Keep going, and it will get better. The promises can come true for you. It is not too late to go to a meeting. Having relapsed in my attempt at recovery taught me that. Admitting it at a meeting was not easy, but everyone welcomed me back. I was the judge that was being so hard on myself. Remember that the 12-Step program says, “Whenever someone reaches out for help, the hand on the program will be there.” Also, I believe that there are many people you can help though sharing your own experience. May God grant you the courage you need!