I used to think that the time spent in the rehab clinic was the most difficult part of the process of getting sober. Boy, was I wrong! There are in fact very few problems you will be confronted with there, as long as you donít choose to leave the facility before completing the program.
Yes, the temptation to do so is great, but then you start pondering the consequences of this decision, about seeing the disappointed looks on your loved onesí faces and the guilt. Trust me, as long as they represent your anchor and your beacon of hope, youíll think twice before quitting rehab. What happens after your ďgraduationĒ should, in fact be your main reason for concern!
I Didnít Have a Plan…
The first time I gave any thought to my post-rehab life Ė although I had been advised to do so numerous times Ė was the moment I walked out the gates of the facility. It was then that I realized how completely unprepared I was to cope with sobriety when the walls of the clinic no longer provided me with a shield against temptation. Now donít get me wrong, I did learn a few tricks to deal with triggers and cravings, but unfortunately I had no real plan on what to do with my life.
The Inside Job
I was still pretty happy and confident, in spite of the sudden realization, so the first couple of weeks went by without a hitch. However, as the initial motivation began to wane, I started to gradually give up on my initial projects and my focus on spotting and resisting triggers began to depreciate.
The boredom was quickly getting a hold of me and I thought, hey, no harm in calling some of my old friends to see what theyíre up to these days. Now, since I used to be an alcoholic, you can imagine why most of my contacts and interactions were with people with whom I used to get hammered every night.
One of the things they teach you in rehab is that continuing to hang around with your drinking friends and particularly in the same establishments is guaranteed to mess up your recovery. I chose to ignore that and, Iím still fuzzy on the how and why, I agreed to meet them at the pub. Iím not exactly sure what I was thinking, since I hadnít set foot in a bar prior to that point. However, the next thing I actually remember was waking up on my couch with one hell of a hangover and one disappointed wife looking at me.
The Moral of the Story †
Recovering alcoholics who canít handle the challenges of sobriety because they fail to establish a plan are very likely to fall for common triggers. I sabotaged my recovery so subtly that I didn’t even realize it until the point in which everything I’ve worked for came tumbling down. And relapse will happen the moment you let your guard down because you think youíre too well adjusted to your new life and nothing can go wrong.
Keep in mind that a recovering alcoholic can never be too careful and thereís no such thing as social drinking anymore. Remember, when you play the game of booze, you either win or you relapse.