Reader Mailbag – “How Can I Overcome My Pattern of Chronic Relapse?”

Reader Mailbag – “How Can I Overcome My Pattern of Chronic Relapse?”

Mailbag reader

An anonymous reader writes in and asks:

“I have a question. I’ve been sober for just 4 days now and the problem I tend to have is that there have been a total of 4 times when I was committed to recovery…

But, 3 of those 4 times ended in relapses exactly on my 90th day of recovery…And, the 4th was just 6 months ago and ended on my 88th day of recovery…

It’s kind of demoralizing and makes me feel hopeless about ever recovering…

Obviously, I can’t seem to get past the early recovery stage but I don’t know why this pattern keeps happening…It seems like everything is fine and then all of a sudden I get these thoughts and urges to drink again…It’s as if a switch goes off inside of me and I’m gone…I mean my mind is made up and nothing in the world will talk me out of it…

- Approved Treatment Center -


I hate it…

I know I miss the “excitement” but the next day it’s gone and I’m full of remorse and getting drunk every night, once again like I never had any time off…I know I haven’t pushed myself toward any spiritual growth and wonder if it’s related, but the truth is that I don’t know how to grow spiritually, not a clue…

I think I get complacent at times in my personal life (although not in my career)…

If you have any solutions or ideas I’d appreciate it because I just don’t want to end up with another relapse. I know it’s only been a few days, but I just need some tools that I can use.

I want to stay sober this time as I don’t know how many more times I can go through trying to recover only to keep failing…

Thank you.”

That is a fairly general problem that I think a lot of people have. I can also see that people in this situation are baffled; they do not know the exact nature of the problem (I might not either necessarily) but I think I can help with some ideas.

You keep relapsing around the 90 day mark. This is not unusual based on what I have seen in others around me.

You don’t go into much detail about your exact recovery strategy or what program you might be working, but I get the sense that you are probably involved with some program as you are at least counting your days of sobriety.

I guess it would help if we started by drawing up 2 possible scenarios: one is that you are attempting to work a 12 step program, and the other scenario is that you are going a different route.

If you happen to be going the 12 step route, then my suggestion to you is to involve yourself deeper within the fellowship than what you have in the past. For example, you might join an H&I committee that takes 12 step meetings into institutions like jails and treatment centers. This type of service work can help keep you grounded when you start getting that 90 day itch, especially if you are in the habit of regularly attending these meetings as a form of service. In other words, you need to make an effort to really reach out and help other recovering alcoholics. This needs to become a big part of your program. This is the insurance that you need in order to overcome that tendency towards relapse.

Now if you’re not into the 12 step program then you need to figure out a way to do this outside of the 12 step fellowship. Simple as that. You still need to work with others in recovery. You still need to find a way to help others. You still need a way to get plugged into this and be doing it on a regular basis as your form of relapse insurance.

You say you might be lacking in spiritual growth. My suggestion is to concentrate on working with others in recovery and the spiritual component will reveal itself to you over time. If you deeply involve yourself in service work somehow, then the rewards of doing so will be enough to form this “missing piece” that you have been lacking.

Remember that it’s all spiritual. Push yourself towards holistic growth. See the growth opportunities outside of traditional recovery programs. The spiritual component will take care of itself if you follow the basic strategies laid out here.

We can become more spiritual over time by forming good habits. And I’m suggesting that you form the habit of helping other recovering alcoholics. That needs to become a cornerstone of your recovery program. I think that is the solution for you or for anyone in a similar pattern of relapse.

Good luck!

- Approved Treatment Center -call-to-learn-about