Is There Hope for the Chronic Relapser?

“Keep Coming Back”

We have a saying in meetings, “Keep coming back.” This expression means a lot of different things to different people. To the newcomer it means, keep coming back to meetings. To some it’s a derogatory comment, meaning you’re in need of more meetings. To others it means you’re always welcome to the fellowship. In AA and NA, relapse is not a requirement; it is however, a reality.

We Have to Do it For Ourselves

The short answer to the question, “Is there hope for the chronic relapser?” is “yes!” As long as you are above ground, there’s hope. When the addict/alcoholic comes to recovery for the first time, they do so for a variety of reasons. Sometimes it’s to keep the family together, or the job or a “nudge from the judge.” Experience has shown that no matter what the reason we come to the rooms, only when we realize that we have to do it for ourselves, do we stay.

Recovery is a Process of Transformation

There is another school of thought that believes that you can only relapse if you have some recovery. And sobriety or clean time does not equal recovery. Recovery is a process of transformation from the people we were once were: selfish, self-centered people that moved through people lives with a destructive force. To become people who want to live in God’s will and better their own lives and the lives around them. When we come to the fellowship, and we’re not ready to get and stay clean and sober, we’re more likely to relapse.

What is hope?

Hope is a belief that something is possible. We come to the fellowship hopeless and helpless, or so we think. The “old-timers” know there is hope for the newcomer walking in the door for the first time, even though they may not believe it for themselves. The veterans know this program works; they know that it can work for newest member as it has for countless others, too. Again, as long as they’re sucking air, there’s hope, but the one caveat is that they have to want to stay clean and sober.

There Aren’t Any Good Reasons, Only Excuses

There are many in the program that believe “a grateful addict/alcoholic will never use.” There are many reasons as to why people don’t stay clean and sober, but in all honesty, there’s no good excuse. An addict/alcoholic doesn’t need a reason to use. “I broke my shoelace, my car has a flat, my girlfriend broke up with me, my spouse died…” and the list goes on. Many addicts have popped a few pills for lesser reasons, quite a few alcoholics have taken a drink for worse reasons. But there are no good reasons.

The most important realization for any addict or alcoholic is that we only have a daily reprieve based upon our spiritual condition. We only have to stay clean and sober, TODAY.

We don’t have to sign a pledge or fill out a membership application to join AA or NA. The only requirement for membership is a desire to stop using/drinking. Many addicts and alcoholics get caught up in their day to day business and obligations then have difficulty facing life on life’s terms. Oh well, life is going to show up! That’s a guarantee, but we don’t have to drink or drug when faced with any situation that challenges our serenity. There’s no good reason for us to drink or drug over anything that may happen in our lives. What we do, is go to a meeting and share about it, and by doing so, we lessen our burden.

That is Why They Call it Recovery

What we have learned is, no matter what the rationale, we’re going to drink or drug because that’s what alcoholics and addicts do, they get drunk and get high. It is not normal for us to be clean and sober. It is not our natural state to be in a meeting rather than at a bar on a Saturday night. It is not normal for us to wake up bright-eyed and bushy-tailed on the weekend and not “come to” with a hangover or dope sick. That is why they call it recovery, so that we may heal our broken spirits and become the people our Higher Power has intended us to be: Happy, joyous and free.

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