I once heard a woman ask a group of people, “How do you survive a relapse?” It dawned on me that I really had nothing to offer, no words of inspiration, no part of a solution. I was useless to her. You see, I have never relapsed, at least not since I walked into the rooms of Alcoholics Anonymous. I’ve been blessed to have found my seat and stayed. However, I say that with the utmost humility, very much remembering that I’m not guaranteed tomorrow and that relapse is only so much as a drink away. I do realise that I am not anymore sober today than the person coming in right behind me in their first twenty-four. Believe me, I know this. I get a strong dose of this reality every time I sit down in a meeting and someone is lucky enough to make it back through those doors and tell me what a relapse looks like.
I have yet (in my days in Alcoholics Anonymous) to see anyone come back, open the door, and say: “You know what everybody, It’s all a lie; What they told us wasn’t true; You can drink like a normal person; It’s totally fine; Come, on; Let’s go.” Nope, that’s not been anything I’ve ever heard. Instead, I see people coming in, with their tails between their legs, looking beaten and busted up - mostly mentally and spiritually, sometimes physically. Some leave and we never see their faces again. Some leave and the next time we see their faces, they’re in caskets.
The old-timers told us when we first got sober, that we needed to buy black suits and black dresses if we planned on sticking around - because we’d be going to a lot of funerals. They said, “Buy a Big Book and a black dress Tami, one’s going to save to your ass, and the other one is going to remind you why you need to save your ass.” I’ve worn that dress too many times now.
I think that if you were lucky enough to make it back, to the rooms or to rehab, then you survived a relapse as far as I’m concerned. You don’t need to ask someone how to survive a relapse. That’s the wrong question to be asked. I think the question should be, “How do you stay sober?” That just may be how to avoid a relapse in the first place.
I know it takes what it takes for each person before we truly understand that for us, to drink (or drug) is to die. It’s just that way. We are not afforded another relapse. That can never be an option. We call that in the rooms of Alcoholics Anonymous, Plan B. If you have a Plan B then you just aren’t done. That’s the basic truth. We’re definitely afforded another drink if we choose, but there is no promise that there will be another chance to recover from this seemingly hopeless disease. I know for me it’s just that way.
The story written here is solely the work of the author’s. Any use or reproduction of this article is prohibited without written consent of the author or credit to the author through works cited.
Tami Harper Winn is currently the featured blogger/contributing editor at Drunkless.com. She also guest blogs for several recovery programs. She has been asked to speak publicly and share her story in front of hundreds and has now added podcasting to her ever growing resume. With over six years of sobriety, she openly breaks her anonymity on a daily basis to help others who suffer from the seemingly hopeless disease of alcoholism and addiction. Tami’s day job currently is as a “superhero.” By night she spends her time enjoying her final year with her already published teenage daughter, and ironing her cape as she writes and markets her Sobriety Secrets. Tami was born and raised in Las Vegas, Nevada where she received her Masters in Partying. She completed her Doctorate in Alcoholism on 05/20/2010 by getting sober in Boise, Idaho where she now resides. She is the proud mother of three, Mema to five and soon-to-be empty nester/world traveler. Tami works an imperfect 12-Step Recovery Program with the help of a very huge Higher Power. She is also a graduate from Boise State University with a BS in General Studies and emphasis in Criminal Justice. She is currently writing her first book. You can follow her on...