In & Out Of Treatment
When I came into treatment I thought the nightmare was completely over. I was in a safe place. It was one of the best treatment programs in the area with some of the best odds for long-term sobriety. This was also my first contact with people who came in like me and soon after went back to drugs and/or alcohol. I could not believe it at first. I thought I was there for the long-haul, what are these people thinking.
It took a few months but I too went back out, as they say. I picked up again and I had no real idea why. The first few weeks were fine. I thought I had somehow managed to become a normal drinker, whatever that is. I surely did not know what a normal drinker was but I knew I was not one. After a few weeks, all the problems came back. I was shaking and having the daily nausea. I lost a job. I ran out of money. I was back where I was a few months prior. Thankfully, I managed to get back into treatment and started again.
I learned that the nature of addiction is tricky. We come into treatment beaten. Soon we feel better and make the mistake of thinking we have everything under control. This mistake is really to forget that we have an addiction. Being addicted to a substance, alcohol, opiates, cocaine—they become part of the same disease in many ways, and the basic fact of addiction is that we do NOT have control. That is the fundamental fact that brings us into treatment. The bitter paradox is that the disease of addiction tricks us into believing we do not have the disease of addiction.
My second time through I decided to listen to everything I was told. I stopped believing that voice in my head that said I was just fine. I met other people who had made the same mistake as I had, some multiple times. I also learned about the progressive nature of addiction and the fact that many people stumble a few times on their road to sobriety. I’ve heard it said that relapse is not a requirement for recovery, but it is a part of recovery.
Most important, after picking up and returning to treatment, I learned that there is no shame in my setback. Far from it, having gone through the setback of picking up, I was more determined to keep on track the second time. Some of the people I met who had also relapsed were great examples for me. They kept at it until recovery and sobriety took hold and so did I. Whatever form of recovery or treatment works for us, the most important thing is to stick to it. It is really that simple. We get back to the program of recovery especially after a fall. We use the wisdom of that experience to further understand our addiction and ourselves. We get more insight into what it means to suffer from an addiction because we know first-hand that there is no safe way for us to use or drink. A relapse can be turned into more fuel for recovery.