Relapse and Alcohol: Losing The Battle Vs. Losing The War

Relapse and alcohol – it’s a common fear. For many, the idea of drinking again means instant failure. It doesn’t have to though.

relapse and alcohol


“It’s better not to give into it. It takes ten times longer to put yourself back together than it does to fall apart.” – The Hunger Games

Finding Truth

This Naked Mind is about being aware, stripping away that which is false, and finding truth. I believe that your life will be so much better when alcohol is a small and irrelevant part of it. I believe your best chance at peace, in your relationship with alcohol, is by starving the alcohol monster and letting him rot.

Relapse and Alcohol

I don’t like the word relapse. It seems to impose unspoken rules and judgments; reeking of stigma. But we cannot ignore it. Your alcohol monster may need to awaken again, maybe more than once, during your journey to his final death. You must know that even with the best intentions and the strongest commitments you may, someday, allow alcohol back into your life. We must face this reality. We cannot hide from it. Our intelligence allows us to protect ourselves, avoiding traps by understanding how they work. Awareness diminishes risk.

Drinking Again

Drinking again may not be a big deal. More likely it will become incredibly painful. The alcohol monster may awaken stronger than before. You may find yourself deeper in the pit than before. Your loved ones have seen your healing. Even if you never verbalized commitments they have been made through your actions. Drinking means breaking those commitments, not only to those you love but even harder, to yourself. You may lose trust in your own judgment, your resolve, and your strength. This is not a reason not to make the commitments. Your strong decisions are a vital part of destroying your thirst for alcohol. But if you do fall prey, you may find yourself deep in a pit of self-loathing, addiction, and despair. So deep that escape appears impossible.

Winning The War Over Relapse and Alcohol

Addiction is a war with the highest stakes. For me the most terrifying thing about relapse how easy it is to believe that by relapsing we have lost the war. Society tells us that if we are unable to stick to our decisions we are weak. If we break promises we cannot be trusted. It’s easy to believe that making mistakes makes us useless. We figure that if we ‘fall off the wagon’ we might as well ‘go all the way’ because ‘it’s too late now.’ We feel beyond repair, no longer worth fixing. We pile on internal guilt, convinced we deserve the hatred of those we love. So we punish ourselves, often by drinking more – even to the point where we are sick. We drink to oblivion, binging in order to numb ourselves to the horror of relapse. Hating ourselves more each time. Falling further and feeling lower than before.

Made Stronger

It is a mistake to believe that by losing a battle we have lost the war. The truth is that each battle makes us stronger given we remain committed to a better tomorrow. Allow your fight to be a reminder of all the reasons you quit rather than an unforgivable mistake. Remember that losing a battle does not mean you have lost the war.

Drinking will remind you why you stopped. You will remember how much effort it took to moderate. How painful hangovers are. You will remember the internal struggle, the recrimination, and the deception. It may come after that first drink or down the road after a time of successful moderation when your willpower runs out. Let your mistakes become powerful reminders of your freedom. Allow them to tell the story of how far you’ve come. Let them be a stepping-stone in your journey.

The Questions to Ask Regarding Relapse and Alcohol

Examine why you drank. Perhaps through healing the reasons you stopped in the first place seem less important. The pain faded and you question: Is alcohol really as bad as I’d imagined? Am I missing out? Can I now, with enough distance, moderate?

If you are struggling with depression or anxiety you may begin to wonder if a drink would take the edge off and provide relief. Remember drinking is like turning off your check engine light, it may temporarily numb your symptoms but it can never heal.

You may drink to fill a void in your life. Societal conditioning again convinces you that alcohol is key to filling the holes inside you. This will never happen; alcohol will only tear you further apart.

And again, if you have a strong physical addiction escape may not be easy, or even possible without others to fight alongside you. You may need a rehabilitation center or an ongoing support group. You may need to call for backup. Call for backup now. Discuss this possibility, ensuring they are prepared to fight with you when the battle comes. Get whatever help you need. Asking for help does not make you weak it makes you strong.

There is Hope

You will overcome this. Let each temptation, each battle; bring you closer to winning the war. Learn from each fight, discovering your truth about alcohol, and its role in your life. Alcohol does not define you. It does not give you worth. Alcohol is not who you are. It will not fix your problems, solve your loneliness or provide the answers you seek.

This is a journey rather than a destination. It is a road that no one can walk but you. These are choices that no one can make but you. But by committing to a different future, no matter how many battles you have ahead of you, you have already won the war.

This is an excerpt from: This Naked Mind: Control Alcohol, Find Freedom, Discover Happiness & Change Your Life

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