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Relapsing: Emergency Toolkit.

Today I received an email from a beautiful girl in the Sober Tribe, who relapsed this weekend and just came out of a 3-day bender. She asked me what I recommended to get back on track with recovery, as she know that relapse was “my jam” for a long 2 years.

Below, my answer:

Hey Sister,

I am sorry you went through that. It sucks. But it happens, and God knows I am familiar with how that goes. Relapses are a blow to the heart, to the body, and to the very essence of who we are. SO. The here are my suggestions:

1. Take time to have time with yourself. Sit with you, the real you. The one who wants to get better. And forgive yourself. The hardest thing for me was to do that, through my relapsing. I found that the last times (the ones that allowed for sobriety to stick!) were better because I re-started recovery on a base of self-forgiveness first. My favorite phrase comes from my sponsor, who says: HEAD UP, FEET FORWARD. Do not shame yourself or pity yourself. Just breathe, give yourself all the forgiveness and kindness that you are able to, and get ready to try again. Meditate, cry, write... be with yourself in kindness.

2. Connect with those who "get you". Reconnect with your sponsor and reach out to others who have relapsed. I know you are doing that, clearly, as you reached out to me. I found that talking to people who have relapsed and gotten back on track is more helpful than talking to people who have long-term sobriety and may not be as familiar with getting off the program / and back on it.

3. Honesty is vital, and shame is not useful. Let me repeat myself again. There is no shame in relapsing. It is what we do. We are alcoholics. If we can honestly share this with the people around us, and let them know we are working on the solution, then it really helps. In other words, rather than obsessing over how my 16 year old son was impacted, fearful and scared when he saw me relapse, I would sit down with him and address it head on. “Hey, as you know this is an illness. I am working really hard on getting better but I had a slip. It had nothing to do with you or anyone else, and its nobody’s fault. I am working on a program of recovery so I can get better and this doesn't happen again.” And see if they have any questions. I don't remember how old your daughter is, this may not be applicable… but my son was relieved when I talked openly about it, and he knew I was working on getting better.

4. Read stories of recovery and hope. A book that helped me TREMENDOUSLY: A PLACE CALLED SELF: WOMEN, SOBRIETY & RADICAL TRANSFORMATION.

5. Connect with AA meetings that are solution based (normally big book and step meetings) and not focused on the problem (discussion meetings have a high likelihood to not be based on AA literature and can quickly turn into a drunk-alog and a problem-based discussion. Those meetings do nothing but drive me to the bar)

6. Last but not least, YOGA and EXERCISE have saved my ass. I know it sounds weird, but reconnecting with my body through exercise makes me feel whole again after a drinking bout. Drinking fragments me and separates me from my soul. So anything that can get me back to a place of connection with God, with myself, with my body, with my heart… is good. Joy is the best feeling to restore the brain back to health. Connection with others brings us Joy.

7. Get out of your head. In other words, put your "best ideas" to the side. As you go through reading, getting directions from your sponsor, etc. – focus on doing things without analyzing them. Follow the steps, knowing that your brain is a bit broken right now, and our ego needs to be set to the side to leave room for the program of connection to kick in. And for the connection with your Higher Power to happen once more. Remember, we cannot do this alone!!

8. Get inspired by others who have walked the path of recovery. Here are some awesome audios on the steps (in 3 parts) that I would love for you to listen to. They are AWESOME. There is a documentary in there, too. Audios are step-work, given by one of the most solid women in recovery I know. I think you will love them.

Please stay in touch and let me how you are doing. P.

I hope this helps. As usual, please know that I am only an email or comment away. Hope to help any and all who want some recovery ju-ju.

Sober Mami:

Pamela is a Certified Professional Recovery Coach & Educator. She has been in recovery since 2009, and is a passionate about breaking the stigma surrounding addiction. Please share this post via the channels below or anyone in your life who may benefit from a little information about drinking and recovery.


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