Relapse in the sober world is a lot like a presidential election. Choose the wrong candidate and you’re in for years of crap. But many recovery folks don’t know relapse warning signs. If you don’t know what to watch, then you’re likely to get caught in the clutches. The picture above (me on the far left) shows what I looked like in the midst of a relapse. That was on a good day too. In just a few months, I’d be in treatment. My nickname was the “Unabomber” – a generous term at the time.
Relapse is to recovery what the “f” word is to the ordinary world. In fact, for those who are sober, relapse could be a synonym for a variety of curse words. Fortunately for us soberites, researchers have provided a library of information on the wretched “r” word.
Insights of the Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous never cease to amaze me when referenced against modern addiction research. The original sober manual states that, “Resentment is the number one offender.” So it seems anger and its negative companions, like frustration, fuel the desire to drink and drug once again.
Relapse Prevention: An Overview of Marlatt’s Cognitive Behavioral Model confirms the suspicion of the founding members of Alcoholics Anonymous. This research discovered that, “negative emotional states…are associated with the highest rate of relapse.” But what are the tangible behaviors that occur when someone is at risk to fall off the wagon?
Before I give you the list, I’m going to make a confession. I’ve been exhibiting some of these symptoms. At the time of this article’s composition, I’m closing in on 2 years sober. The first year presented a few challenges, however, nothing too serious. For reasons still undiscovered, I hit a wall during the transition to post-1 year sober.