So many recovering addicts and alcoholics tend to struggle in traditional recovery programs. Success rates are poor. A typical pattern is for someone in the program to relapse every couple of months, over and over again. Others might relapse every couple of years. Given this type of situation, it makes sense to ask the question:
“Do you really want recovery, or are you just going through the motions and doing what you think you are supposed to do?”
Such people will undoubtedly say that they genuinely want recovery, that they are sick and tired of being on this hamster wheel of addiction. So why do they continue to stay stuck in their pattern of relapse? What is holding them back from recovery?
Clinging to a failed solution
In many cases, the chronic relapser has already decided long ago on what their recovery solution is, and they are desperately clinging to that as their salvation. Unfortunately, it is not working for them, but they don’t fault the recovery program for that, instead they fault themselves.
This is a bit of a gray area. It is true that the person probably failed in following through with their program of choice, otherwise they would not have relapsed. But to keep returning to the same solution, over and over again after countless relapses….that doesn’t make sense either.
The fault doesn’t lie entirely with the program, because we know it works for some. The fault doesn’t lie entirely on the addict, either, because they might have succeeded given a better program for their specific needs.
The solution, then, is for the recovering addict to take responsibility in finding a solution that works for them. This is one of the secrets of recovery–that one must take a recovery program and make it work for them in their life somehow. People share this advice in meetings all the time when they say “Take what you need and leave the rest.” Most will nod their head but not really act on this advice.
I’m telling you: act on it! Walk away from what doesn’t work for you…it’s just getting in your way.
If you are a chronic relapser in recovery then follow the advice you hear around the tables: “If you keep doing what you always did then you’ll keep getting the same results you always got.” That holds true for a recovery program as well. If it’s not working for you then change it.
Some people get used to the pattern of relapse. They get some sort of satisfaction out of returning to meetings after screwing up time and time again. This becomes part of their ritual, part of the addiction itself. I’m not saying that you need to stop going to meetings, but if they are part of your pattern of failure, then you might want to look at some different support structures that might help you in different ways.
If you are serious about getting well then it’s time to try something different. While you have to find your own path in recovery, I could at least suggest what worked well for me:
1) Break out of this cycle of chronic relapse – by going to long term treatment. If you really want to get well, then long term treatment offers you a solid support system in which to do so. There are no excuses when living in long term treatment because the structure makes it relatively easy to stay clean and sober (at least while you are living there).
Long term treatment isn’t the only way though….it was just how I managed to get through early recovery. Others might find different ways to get started in recovery.
2) Transition to long term recovery – After you manage to get through “stage one recovery,” start pushing yourself to grow in different ways and start creating a new life for yourself. These are the decisions and the actions that will lead you to a lifetime of sobriety.
If you are trapped in a cycle of failure then it is your personal responsibility to break out of that cycle. It’s not your fault and it’s not the program’s fault. But it is your job to do something about it, so get creative and take positive action to start making lasting changes in your life.