If we’re in recovery, we’ve likely experienced a fair amount of trauma and tragedy that influenced our decision to get help. The very nature of addiction takes away our ability to make decision for ourselves when we’re using, to the point where we don’t care what we have to do or who we have to associate with to score again. These ill-advised actions and associations are counter to who we are and the promising lives we were living before we started abusing drugs and alcohol. If we are fortunate enough to get quality help, we slowly but surely become those bright vibrant people again in recovery.
What we must realize, however, is that tragedy doesn’t take a holiday no matter who we are, and that we may be especially vulnerable to tragic events based on the lives we lived in substance abuse. Perhaps a friend of ours just didn’t get help in time and wound up overdosing. Perhaps our family members still have a hard time embracing us, and it’s looking more and more like some of them never will. Perhaps we contracted an illness throughout the course of our substance abuse that was just disclosed to us. Substance abuse is a high-risk lifestyle, and we have to be ready for its consequences even when we’re in recovery.
How do we do this? How do we deal with the potentially devastating pain of tragedy without letting it push us back into the embrace of addiction? For starters we can remember that substance abuse may have been what led to this tragedy in the first place. Though logic rarely factors into addiction, and we might be inclined to say: “Forget it. What’s the point?” we need to keep in mind what happens when we go back down that road. Whether we remind ourselves or call our sponsors or therapists so they can do it for us, we need to stay grounded in reality and not use tragedy as an excuse to relapse.
We can also leverage the tools we learned in treatment to channel our strength and help us get through the most raw and most difficult periods. It’s perfectly natural to grieve; but we can’t allow tragedy to beget tragedy. We are still living our lives; we are still free from substance abuse; and we are still rebuilding our futures. To allow tragedy or trauma to derail our recovery would be the most profound tragedy of all.