Tips From Dr. Bill W. – May 2015

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Tips From Dr. Bill W. – May 2015

In 1972, Elton John released an album, “Honky Chateau”, that included one of his most popular singles entitled “Rocket Man,” with lyrics by Bernie Taupin. Some have speculated that the lyrics describe the misery of addiction, and I agree. It describes well the loneliness of what I experienced prior to my recovery. Please take the time to re-listen to this tune (I know you have all heard it) to decide if you agree with me.

Regardless of whether you agree, why do I ask? It is to remind you of your own special misery of drug and/or alcohol abuse, and I know that you remember it quite well. Now that you are detached from it and are living a much better life, why would you ever consider returning to that life? The answer to my last rhetorical question is simple; you suffer from a disease that distorts your logic regarding such decisions. Relapse is part of the disease! You think that it won’t be the same the next time.

So, how can you prevent a possible relapse? Detect the warning signs first. Most addicts/alcoholics who have relapsed will tell you that they knew it was coming. Consciously or subconsciously, they planned their relapse, as it rarely happens suddenly. First, one becomes less interested in recovery, maybe because of a sense of security with their own sobriety. Next, attendance at meetings begins to wane. They begin to fantasize about a drunk or high. Then, that all-powerful obsession that they can control their addiction takes hold. They may decide when the best time to “experiment” will happen, possibly immediately after a random urine drug test. In no time, they are trapped, and it’s only a matter of time before they are discovered by family, friends, co-workers, or by a monitoring agency.

Please, resist any of the above urges! You know from your recovery education that you cannot control your addiction, as it will control you. Once you take that first drink/fix, you will immediately crave more, and you will not be able to stop. Why would you be any different than you were before you got sober? You have a chronic obsession to be a controlled drinker/user and an allergy to your drug of choice (and others). You have an incurable disease! Accept that fact!!

Before I went to rehab and achieved long-term sobriety, I tried to sober up on my own, and it lasted a month. After a stressful event (delivering the eulogy at a funeral), I thought I deserved and could handle a single drink. Nine days later, I was admitted to a detox unit. I couldn’t stop drinking, and it was worse than before. I was lucky to survive with my life, and I have no doubt that a similar result would occur if I drank again.

Be honest with yourself. Admit to your sponsor and others, but, most importantly, to yourself when you begin to experience the above warning signs. Talk it out! You will save yourself a return to your prior misery, financial/professional disaster, and, maybe, your life.