As a licensed Alcohol and Drug Abuse Counselor, I want every addict to recover successfully. However, I know recovery isn’t easy. Research even suggests that up to 80 percent of recovering addicts relapse within the first year of sobriety. You can be part of the 20 percent who stay sober when you recognize six common relapse excuses and learn how to shut them down.
1. “I Thought I Would Never Use Again.”
New recovering addicts usually swear that they’ll never touch their drug of choice again. While I appreciate their enthusiasm, the first three stages of recovery are often like a honeymoon, with plenty of support and excitement. The true test of long-term sobriety comes when real life happens. Humility and the realization that addiction is one bad choice away are two important tools that assist addicts in staying clean and sober. I encourage people in recovery to stay connected to a support team, continue journaling about their journey, and remember to take one moment at a time.
2. “I Didn’t Like my Counselor, Didn’t Need a Recovery Group or Thought I Could Stay Sober on my Own.”
Like the first excuse, this one sets a recovering addict up for failure. With a support system, including a professional counselor, recovery group, and sober friends, recovering addicts address the underlying causes of addiction and find the courage to walk away from their triggers. If you decide for any reason to attempt sobriety on your own, relapse is likely. You need a recovery team who will listen when you need to talk, understand your temptations and have the resources needed to help you stay sober.
3. “I was Lonely.”
Your old drinking buddies are off limits now that you’re sober, and that means you need to establish a new group of friends. This process takes time, but it is essential to prevent relapse. So, reach out to people in your yoga class, recovery group or neighborhood and meet for the big game, after-work walks or coffee chats. You could also take up a new hobby and find new friends at those meetings as you stay connected to sober friends and prevent loneliness.
4. “I was Bored.”
Now that you’re not using, you may find that you have tons of free time. Instead of sitting around thinking about using or about all the changes sobriety brings, get up and get active. Join a basketball league, volunteer at an animal shelter or pursue a college degree and fill your free time with productivity that leaves no room for relapse.
5. “I was Stressed.”
Everyone gets stressed, but using drugs or drinking was your old way of coping with this fact of life. You need new and healthy coping strategies, and I encourage recovering addicts to handle stress, tension and frustration by practicing yoga and meditation, two recovery tools that help you focus on the present and remain calm in the midst of turmoil. Journaling, exercising, baking and hanging out with sober friends also relieve stress, help you cope with life’s challenges, and allow you to grow as a sober person.
6. “Staying Sober is too Hard.”
Whether you lived as an active addict for one year or 20 years, addiction was your normal. Living sober will take some getting used to and years (yes, years) of hard work. However, the effort is extremely rewarding. As you adapt realistic expectations of your sobriety path, adjust to the fact that life isn’t about instant gratification and see obstacles as growth opportunities, you’ll also see your dream of sobriety come true. Meanwhile, talk honestly to your counselor and recovery group about your challenges, and allow your support system to help you face reality and keep moving forward in your recovery. Remember, even baby steps are better than standing still during recovery.
Have you ever heard or used any of these six relapse excuses? I have, and I’m here to say that you can erase them from your vocabulary forever. From recovery groups to exercising, you have thousands of practical resources at your fingertips, and they help you stop making excuses and start living sober today.