The road through life is paved with difficult situations, and the same can be said for the road to recovery. In fact, even those who have had years of success managing our addictions can still encounter dangerous or problematic circumstances on a regular basis. Our recovery plans are set up so that we have someone to whom we can reach out for help when we anticipate vulnerability to relapse. Asking for help, whether it’s advice or guidance or a ride home from a situation in which there will be drugs or alcohol, does not make us weak or failures. It does, however, indicate that we are in control of our recovery by doing the mature thing and recognizing our limitations. With this in mind, here are a few situations in which it may help to call our sponsors or our designated support:
Dangerous Social Situations – We can’t control other people’s drug and alcohol use. What we can do, however, is reduce our exposure to it. Alcohol is everywhere and part of our rehabilitation should be developing ways to deal with regular exposure, but everyone must go at their own pace. The pressure to let loose and just give in to lingering temptation, even if we say it’s “just once,” can set off a chain reaction that can completely derail our recovery. If we talk to our sponsors, we can get an honest and objective analysis of the risk involved, and act accordingly. We may just have to skip some parties for a while until we feel we’re strong enough to not get sucked back in.
Traumatic Incidents – Whether it’s the death of a loved one, a life-threatening emergency, or even a break-up with a significant other, trauma is a part of life. Each one of us processes trauma differently and unfortunately, many of us seek escape through substance abuse. Trauma is a perfect incubator for the thoughts and emotions that lead to relapse, so it’s important that we have the support we need to cope with traumatic influence in a healthy fashion without having to resort to drugs and alcohol. We should feel free to lean on our sponsors and those close to us after we’ve been through a traumatic ordeal. Even if we think it’s embarrassing or disempowering, internalizing trauma is a clear path to relapse.
Family Events or Celebrations – Even celebratory occasions with our closest loved ones can lead to relapse. Family is often an ongoing source of stress in recovery. Combine this with the steady flow of alcoholism and pressure over how extended family may perceive us after we’ve left treatment, and we may be more vulnerable than we realize. By reaching talking to our therapist or reaching out to our sponsors we can channel the behavioral tips we learned in rehab or practice simple avoidance.
Recovery doesn’t mean we have to stop living our lives, but it does mean that we have to be a bit more careful in certain circumstances. During the period immediately following treatment, it’s a good thing to keep in regular contact with our designated support network to avoid cutting short our progress.