Recovery from addiction is a journey, not a destination. As an idea early on in sobriety, it’s a fairly simple concept for us to grasp. It seems inconceivable that a person with years of successful recovery time could relapse, especially to someone new to recovery.
The majority of relapses in addiction do occur in early recovery. However, that is not always the case. People with years of sobriety have forfeited longstanding clean time. So, can you relapse after 25 years of sobriety, and if so how can you help prevent it from happening?
What is a SLIP?
In nearly every recovery fellowship and program, we hear a common acronym. A relapse is referred to as a SLIP. It sounds innocent enough. However, the acronym pinpoints one of the most common reasons for relapse.
When someone in recovery relapses, they are said to have had a “slip”. While it sounds rather compassionate, the acronym indicates where many feel the problem lies. Sobriety Lost Its Priority, or SLIP.
We’re all human, and understandably prone to mistakes. However, when it comes to a slip back into addiction, this is idea begins to prove meaningful. We’ve heard dozens upon dozens of people share how they became complacent in their recovery.
They may have stopped doing the daily things that are suggested. Many became disenchanted with recovery fellowships and stopped attending. Most begin to lose contact with people in their recovery support network.
We can call it a relapse or a slip. Nevertheless, it ended up creating the same result. We experienced yet another ride on the merry-go-round of relapse. There are people who get clean and sober the first time and stay that way.
Relapse happens more than we’d like to see in recovery, but it isn’t a required part of any recovery program. So, since it appears a relapse often occurs when sobriety loses its priority, how can you prevent a SLIP?
How to Prevent the SLIP?
So, what do the people who never have a slip do differently than those who seem to struggle with the merry-go-round of relapse? What can be done to help prevent a slip from happening, even after multiple attempts at sobriety?
Never Give Up
The first thing to remember is to never give up. You feel defeated by drugs or alcohol, you’re not alone. Many people have taken years to sew together one full calendar year of sobriety. Others have remained clean and sober for decades and succumbed to a relapse.
People who have struggled with relapse insist on one analogy. Treat a relapse like learning to ride a horse. A lot of people get tossed off, some more than a few times. But, the person that ultimately learns to ride keeps getting back on the horse.
If you’ve struggled with repeated relapse problems, never give up. Sure, you may have strong doubts about your ability to stay clean and sober. If you keep you trying, you’ll always have a chance. When you give up hope, you may lose more than just your sobriety date.
Focus on Sober Priorities
Keep in mind the meaning behind the acronym SLIP. When your sobriety loses its priority, you are in a very dangerous place. Drugs and alcohol are both cunning and baffling foes. It is a disease that will try to hook you for the rest of your life.
Many of the relapse stories of people with years of sobriety insist on this one point having become a reality. They thought they could have just one, or that they no longer suffered from an addiction.
In the blink of an eye, they were back out in the mix. People with substance use disorders must appreciate that their disease will try to convince them that they are no longer sick. To avoid this potentially fatal mistake, maintain your focus on sober priorities.
One of the best ways to keep your recovery priorities in focus is to stay connected. Many with longstanding sobriety continue to be active participants in recovery fellowships. They insist that they are there to help the newcomer by sharing their experience.
However, when asked, they also will admit another benefit of staying active. It helps keep them connected to their sobriety. Staying connected can involve attending meetings, or simply maintaining a contact with others in the recovery community.
We must caution that many who have relapsed after years of sobriety mention losing their connection to their recovery. If you stay connected to your network of support, you can avoid making that dreadful call to tell a close recovery friend that you’ve “slipped again”.
There are disheartening stories about people who suffer from alcoholism or drug addiction “going back out” or having a slip. Invariably, none of the stories tell of a pleasant experience. Some do find their way back into recovery, but some do not.
We never know which relapse might be the one we cannot recover. Too many people continue to struggle with their addiction, destroying their lives even more. There are those too who pay the ultimate price. They lose their life.
If you’ve struggled with staying clean and sober, you can climb off the merry-go-round of relapse. Humble yourself and start over. If you’ve yet to admit you may have a problem with drugs or alcohol, maybe it’s time you did.
All you have to do is ask for help. There are compassionate people ready to guide you on a beautiful journey in recovery. Ask for help today, because tomorrow might be too late. Call us at 833-762-3739.