Tag Archives: sponsor

Recovery at Risk Amid a Pandemic: Protecting Your Progress

recovery

Recovery first is the pathway to continued progress. Those who make a daily commitment to prioritize sobriety by attending meetings, working with a sponsor, and paying it forward are destined for success. However, it’s challenging to put your recovery first when the country is in the grips of a deadly public health crisis.

Every American, both in recovery and out, is fully aware that social distancing is of vital importance. For most men and women, that might not be a protocol that’s difficult to adhere to, but for those who rely on mutual support groups, a pandemic presents problems.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has instructed every American to avoid large crowds and physical interaction. While there isn’t a vaccine or cure for COVID-19 or Coronavirus, there are steps that each of us can take to safeguard our health.

If you are an active member of a recovery community, then you understand that meetings are extremely important for sustaining your program. Discontinuing your attendance at 12 Step groups can significantly put your recovery at risk. So, if you are like most people in sobriety, then you are probably wondering how you are expected to carry on without regular meeting attendance?

Unfortunately, there is no straightforward answer to the question above. The fact is that we in the recovery community have never faced anything quite like this in our lifetimes. Alcoholics Anonymous was founded 17 years after the Spanish Flu of 1918. The influenza of the early 20th Century infected some 500 million people (nearly one-third of the world population) and resulted in anywhere from 50 and 100 million casualties.

Even though we have never dealt with a public health crisis like this before, it’s possible to keep your recovery intact.

COVID-19 in Recovery

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has issued guidelines on protecting your health. At PACE Recovery Center, we are following the public health agency’s suggestions in earnest to protect our clients. We hope that you will take the time to learn more about how you can protect yourself amid this most severe crisis.

Now, perhaps more than ever, the fellowship of recovery needs to work together to ensure the programs of millions of people aren’t derailed. Those in recovery – especially early sobriety – cannot isolate from their support network, but that is what the CDC is recommending.

In order to safeguard the recovery of countless individuals, support groups need to adapt in response to the pandemic. While it’s not the job of 12 Step groups like Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) to dole out public health advice, the organization is making recommendations to protect its members.

The General Service Office (G.S.O.) of Alcoholics Anonymous has offered AA Intergroups across the country some valuable advice for handling the crisis. The resource center for AA members has shared what some groups are doing to deal with the pandemic in hopes that it will steer other groups in the right direction. On March 16th, 2020, the G.S.O. issued an updated statement on the crisis. The General Service Office writes:

Our collected experience suggests that groups that are unable to meet at their usual meeting places have begun to meet digitally; doing so in a sensible and helpful manner to allow the group to continue keeping the focus on our common welfare and primary purpose. Some groups that are still meeting in person have shared about making changes to customs at their meetings. Some examples have included: avoiding shaking hands and handholding; making sure meeting hospitality tables are sanitary; or suspending food hospitality for the time being. Many groups have also made contingency plans in case the group is temporarily unable to meet in person.

Recovery Support Groups Contingency Plans

It’s worth noting that some 12 Step groups are still meeting in person despite the elevated threat to member safety. However, the G.S.O. shares that many support groups are going digital. Switching from “in-person” meetings to online is a sound method of preventing disease transmission. Rightly, the G.S.O. points out that regardless of individual group decisions, each member is responsible for their health.

If your health is compromised, such is the case for many in early recovery and especially those with respiratory conditions, then attending meetings could be risky. Such individuals must take steps to protect their progress and sustain their recovery. The G.S.O. recommends:

  • Creating Contact Lists
  • Staying in Touch with Your Sponsor and Support Group via Telephone
  • Utilizing Email and Social Media
  • Conducting Meetings by Phone or Video Conference.

The best thing you can do for your recovery at this time is to maintain constant contact with your support network. If you require further guidance, then utilize your local AA resources. Contact the AA intergroup or central office in your area. You can also turn to AA websites for more information.

Southern California Gender-Specific Recovery Center

At PACE Recovery Center, we encourage you to strike a balance between your physical and mental well-being. Please do not take unnecessary risks and again stay in touch with your support network as much as possible. You have the power to sustain your recovery and protect your health during this unprecedented time.

Please contact PACE if you are an adult male struggling with addiction or mental illness. We offer several evidence-based programs that can help you begin and sustain a journey of lasting recovery.

Recovery During Thanksgiving: Maintaining Your Sobriety

recovery

You don’t need to have alcohol for a good Thanksgiving. If you are in addiction recovery, alcohol will not only complicate your day, but it will derail your program. With the significant holiday quickly approaching, there are many things you can do to prepare yourself for keeping your sobriety intact and have an excellent time as well.

Men in the first 365 days of recovery are entering the holiday season for the first time. Such people may not fully know what to expect, but it’s safe to say that many have some concerns. Some will be around family members this Thursday, which means there may be questions about why they are not drinking.

While your recovery is nobody’s business but your own, you may want to think about having something to say for any off-putting questions. Your closest family members may know you are working a program, but others may not. As such, the latter may encourage you to drink or inquire as to why you are teetotaling your way through the celebration.

It is reasonable if you do not feel comfortable divulging information about the path you are on. Having a script in the back of your mind can save you from having to answer uncomfortable questions. It may feel as though you’re dishonest when, in fact, you are merely guarding your personal health information.

You can say that you are taking a medication that doesn’t mix with alcohol. It’s also okay to say that you are working on being healthier and that you are more committed to exercise and diet than drinking. There is a myriad of acceptable responses to explain away your alcohol intake. Talk to your sponsor to discover how they handle unsolicited questions about sobriety.

Recovery Comes First Every Day

Thanksgiving shouldn’t be treated differently than any other day of the year. Those who work a program and are committed to a new path understand that recovery must always be priority number one. As the saying goes, ‘put your sobriety first to make it last.’

It’s challenging to prioritize recovery day in and day out, 365 days a year. However, the task can be even more arduous during the holiday seasons. Thanksgiving and Christmas can be a time of added stress and unwanted emotions. Not everyone looks forward to the holidays, even if they are time for togetherness.

Many people in early recovery associate the holidays with unpleasurable memories. What’s more, not everyone in early recovery has their family back in their lives. The thought of not being welcome at the family table can be hard to stomach. Fortunately, you have your support network to spend time with this coming Thursday.

Whenever a holiday comes around, you can rest assured that a member of your support group (homegroup) will be hosting a get-together. If you have not heard anything yet, ask your sponsor or share at your next meeting that you are wondering how others are planning for Thanksgiving. Your support network will be able to guide you on safe and sober ways to occupy your time.

On Thursday, please resist the temptation to isolate and ensure that you make it to at least one meeting. It never hurts to go to multiple meetings during a holiday, either. Do your best to start your day how you would any other day of the year, i.e., prayer/meditation, exercise, a healthy breakfast, reading, or step work. Know what meetings you plan to attend ahead of time!

Protect Your Sobriety

While it’s best to spend your holidays in sobriety with other sober people, you may feel obligated to make an appearance at Thanksgiving dinner. People who plan to attend an event that involves alcohol should see if that can bring a friend for support, preferably someone else in the program. If that is not possible, and you still plan to attend, then keep your phone charged so that you can always reach out for help.

It’s a helpful practice to show up a little late and leave early from holiday gatherings. Doing so can spare you from being cornered into answering unwanted questions and prevent you from being around drunk people.

You do not owe anyone an explanation for why you are leaving early. It also helps if you can be responsible for your transportation. Those who do not drive can benefit from making preparations to be dropped off and picked up by a friend in the program; this practice is an extra level of accountability.

Once you leave a holiday event, get yourself to meeting to decompress. There may be things that you saw, heard, or felt that need to be processed. At the very least, make plans with friends from your support network to close out the day.

A Safe and Sober Thanksgiving

The Gentlemen of PACE Recovery Center would like to wish everyone a safe and sober Thanksgiving. Never hesitate to reach out for support; always call before your fall. If you experience challenges, such a relapse, get to a meeting ASAP to recommit yourself to the program.

We invite men to contact PACE to discuss your options if you may feel like you need more significant assistance. We are available at any time to answer your questions and help you get back on the road to lasting recovery.

Recovery Repetitions and Helpful Mantras

recovery

Addiction recovery, among many other things, is about repetition. Long-term sobriety depends on a person’s ability to adopt a new mode of living. Discarding old behaviors and negative mindsets while creating different traditions that don’t involve the use of alcohol or drugs is critical.

Following and sticking to a healthy path takes an enormous effort in early recovery. Keeping temptations and cravings at bay is just one of several obstacles the newly sober face. At times, it can seem like there’s something around every corner lying in wait to derail one’s progress. Which is why developing structured patterns of living that mitigate the risk of making wrong turns is invaluable.

When people finally accept that they have a disease that needs tending each day, they do whatever it takes to nurture their recovery. The first year is about following a blueprint for success that was drafted by countless men and women. The hard mistakes made by generations before gave us a formula for making continued progress. Those who trust the process and stick to the program find no ceiling to what’s achievable.

Over time, one’s new approach won’t seem novel at all. Adhering to and prioritizing the needs of one’s program becomes natural. Men and women will no longer wonder if they will make a meeting or call their sponsor each day. Reaching out a hand to the newcomer will be second nature and being of service wherever and whenever becomes standard operating procedure.

Promoting a Positive Mindset in Recovery

Again, the road to long-term recovery is repetitious. Engaging in the same or similar daily activities, so they become a reflex is vital, but arriving at that point isn’t without difficulty.

At times, calling one’s sponsor will seem like a quotidian struggle. In the first year of recovery, it is common to get burnt out from attending meetings, day in and day out. Sharing in meetings will feel like an impossible task some days. Hearing other people share, ever listening for the similarities and not the differences, can be exhausting.

While it’s not unhealthy to feel frustrated with the program’s redundancies, rebelling against such feelings is paramount. Frustration will foment spiritual unrest and negative thoughts if left unchecked. Interestingly, one of the most repetitive aspects of the program is also a tool for combating annoyance. For example, recovery sayings, maxims, and mantras, such as Keep It Simple, Stupid (KISS).

In meetings of the 12 Step variety like Alcoholics Anonymous, acronyms and repeated quotations abound. Some can be found in the Big Book or other 12 Step-related texts, while others arose organically in the group and were then passed along from one member to the next. Have an attitude of gratitude, turn I wish into I will, and progress, not perfection are prime examples.

The newly sober will hear the above sayings innumerable times just in the first year alone, borderline ad nauseum. Platitudes and maxims might seem annoying at first, but when repeated to one’s self in times of difficulty, they can pull a person out of a funk.

Utilizing the Mantras of Recovery

If you become disinterested in being of service, even though you know it’s beneficial, then try focusing on being more self-aware. Combat your disquiet with subtle reminders like:

  • The healthy person finds happiness in helping others.
  • Humility is not thinking less of yourself, but thinking of yourself less.
  • If you want what you’ve never had, you must do what you’ve never done.

You have probably heard the above lines before and have incorporated at least one into your quiver of recovery sayings. If not, write them down and memorize them; they are helpful to have in your back pocket when feeling unmotivated.

Perhaps you have found yourself bothered by another member of the group and no longer wish to see him or her? While you do not have to like or relate to everyone, your distaste for someone hurts you the most.

Address the problem by talking to your sponsor, rather than deciding to no longer attend a meeting; they may be a member of your homegroup, after all. Discussions will lead you to discover the problem’s root; in these scenarios, people usually find that the issue is internal, not external. Your sponsor may drop another helpful saying on you, albeit with a touch of levity perhaps. He or she may say, “If you like everyone in AA, you’re not going to enough meetings!”

Bothers with the program are typically menial. However, not facing perturbations can disrupt progress. If you put minuscule problems before your sobriety, it will not last. People who no longer put their recovery first are bound to slip, which brings us to our last helpful acronym. SLIP: Sobriety Losing Its Priority!

Gender-Specific Addiction Treatment

At PACE (Positive Attitudes Change Everything) Recovery Center, we equip adult men with the tools to adhere to a program of recovery. Our safe and supportive environment is the ideal setting to restructure and gear your life toward achieving long-term sobriety. Please contact us today to learn more about our gender-specific addiction treatment center.

Recovery Demands Your Honesty

recovery

Honesty is a real lifesaver for people in addiction recovery; truthfulness, with yourself and others, is key to long-term sobriety. Most people working a program would probably agree that it’s not always easy telling the truth. After years of duplicitous behavior, many find it trying to let others know what is bouncing around their mind. For some, dishonesty is ostensibly second nature, and turning it off takes practice.

In most cases, a failure in forthrightness is venial, or forgivable. Case in point: Did you call your sponsor today? Answering yes (when the opposite is true), isn’t necessarily going to result in returning to drug or alcohol use. However, making a practice of telling even white lies, can come back to haunt a person. Being mendacious – in certain circumstances – may not be inherently harmful; but, even half-truths and omissions can set a dangerous precedent. Men and women in recovery who present delusive impressions to their peers, subvert progress!

People incapable of being honest with their peers or sponsor about doing the Work are likely going to be the same individuals who keep a relapse to him or herself. It’s exceedingly common; a relapse occurs, and a series of charades follows closely behind—indefinitely. Fear of social consequences drives some to continue attending meetings and sharing; they feel unable to divulge the fact their program has eroded. Such instances are the epitome of the disease of addiction at work; too sick to pull back the curtain, too prideful to ask for help.

Reasons for Being Dishonest (In an Honest Program)

A couple of idioms that hold water in recovery: honesty is the best policy and pride comes before the fall. Each person in the program, whether he or she has a week or ten years sober, wants to succeed. Everyone would like to be free from the bondage of self, a veritable ball-and-chain keeping one from fulfilling his or her real potential. Even though telling the truth is more straightforward than dishonesty, human beings tend to convince themselves that the opposite is factual. Unfortunately, for addicts and alcoholics, the above mindset carries with it a substantial and pernicious cost.

Myriad kinds of deceit exist and why one feels the compulsion to be deceitful is subjective. However, in the rooms of recovery, lying is often the byproduct of desiring to meet other people’s expectations. Or, better still, what one believes is expected of a person in recovery. Both men and women have a way of gauging their successes in life on other’s perceptions. This reality can create an echo chamber of sorts or opposing mirror effect. Justifying a deception now and again becomes more comfortable to stomach, as such. If one’s peers think they are doing well, it’s possible to internalize and convince oneself that everything is OK.

In early recovery, there is an internal power struggle for control between the disease and the spirit. An apt characterization of addiction is ‘self-will run riot,’ the misconception that one holds dominion over their existence. Sometimes people lie because honesty can feel like ceding control. Many individuals think that they alone must influence the narrative of life. Moreover, such people are willing to go to great lengths to achieve that goal. Persons deluding themselves and others in recovery may find that truth is inconvenient!

Cascading Lies Lead to Relapse

Dishonesty is defendable, at times, when hoping to avoid offending others. Duplicity is, after all, a human behavior; it is likely that nobody is honest all the time. We all know that established social, and behavioral norms almost demand one lie on occasion. Still, all who contend with mental illness needs be wary of being misleading or lying by omission.

Those who omit specific details with their support network tend to experience enormous guilt and shame. Motivations for lying aside, individuals who keep unhealthy thoughts or feelings from their peers become mired in stress. Each person in recovery has shortcomings they must contend with; and, the program provides recourse for addressing imperfections. Downplaying weaknesses for fear of judgment or social persecution is counterproductive. Minimizing deficiencies to your peers will destabilize the mission to heal and erodes any advancements.

In recovery, as in life, men can and do struggle with sharing emotions and vulnerabilities. An inability to open oneself up entirely to their support group has unintended consequences. Guarded individuals are more vulnerable to relapse. Those unable to practice honesty in every affair will find being accountable to and responsible for a program an impossibility. Each of us learns at a young age that lies beget lies, untruths snowball quickly and become hard to contain.

If you tell the truth, you don’t have to remember anything.” —Mark Twain

A single drop of dishonesty can honestly morph into a torrential downpour of negative emotions. People who can’t find the strength to come clean, with haste, put more than their recovery at risk.

Addiction Recovery

Please reach out to PACE Recovery Center to take the first step toward recovery and leading a life of authenticity. We offer a safe place, for men in the grips of alcohol or substance use disorder, to delve into the underlying issues of their illness. We can provide tools and teach you skills to live honest, happy, joyous, and free.

Addiction Recovery After Relapse

relapse

July 4th has come and gone, once again. For many of you working a program of addiction recovery, it is probably a relief. Especially for those of you who kept your recovery intact over the long holiday weekend. On the other hand, there are a number of recovery community members who relapsed at some point between Friday and yesterday. It happens every year. In many ways, our Independence Day is inextricably linked to pervasive heavy alcohol consumption. The temptation is especially great around this time of year.

If you relapsed this weekend, you are probably laden with feelings of guilt and shame. It is, in many ways, a natural response to picking up a drink or drug after acquiring some sober and clean time. Anyone who acquires some length of time in the program knows that it resulted from hard work and dedication. After a relapse, it can be easy to feel like it was all for naught. However, that is not necessarily the case, assuming one doesn’t go from a relapse to full-blown active addiction.

You are right to feel upset after relapsing. That is, to feel like you let yourself and others down due to a decision that was hardly worth it. Any one of our readers whose recovery story includes a relapse, knows that taking that first drink or drug is never accompanied by relief. It is hard to enjoy a belly full of beer with a head full of Alcoholics Anonymous (AA). They will also agree that while it was humbling to have to identify as a newcomer again, it was worth it. The alternative to getting back up onto the recovery horse after a fall is never beneficial. But, and sadly, a large percentage of people who relapse, continue down the perilous path driven by shame and guilt.

Committing Yourself to Addiction Recovery, Again

It may seem like your relapse came out of nowhere. Just an unexpected event that jeopardized your program. Please keep in mind, nobody working a program just accidentally trips and falls into a pool of alcohol. A relapse usually begins long before taking that first drink or drug. Happening gradually and incrementally. Taking the form of isolating behavior, not calling your sponsor as much or going to fewer meetings. Then, often when it is least expected, one finds themselves in a position of vulnerability.

One begins to think that they have their disease under control; that their addiction recovery is strong, even while going to events typified by alcohol use, or hanging out with people who are using. For a time, resistance may be possible, but more times than not a relapse is fast approaching. One only need a holiday, which is already fairly stressful, to be pushed over the edge.

While the road to relapse may zig and zig in different ways, from one person to the next, the road back to recovery should be fairly consistent in nature. If you relapsed and have not called your sponsor, please do so immediately. And do so knowing that your sponsor will not judge or look down on you. Addiction recovery is rooted in compassion, not shaming or guilting people about a decision that comes naturally. Make no mistake, drinking and drugging is the alcoholic and addict’s natural state. News of relapse, while unfortunate, is not cause for making a person smaller than they already feel.

So call your sponsor and get to a meeting. Identify as a newcomer and grab a chip. Doing so will let your “homegroup” know that you are recommitting yourself to the program. You may be inclined to think that your peers will look at your differently. Conversely, what is likelier is that they will reach out to offer their support and commend you for taking the courageous step of re-identifying as a newcomer.

Listen to what they have to say, following direction in early recovery is crucial for not repeating the same errors again. Be open and honest with your sponsor about what is going on with you, so you two can determine what kind of adjustments should be made to avoid another relapse. Remember, you are not the first person working a program of addiction recovery to relapse. What’s more, it is not uncommon for people to go on from relapse to acquire significant time in the program—decades even. There isn’t any reason why your return to the program from a relapse can’t have a fruitful outcome.

Addiction Treatment Might Be Needed

In some cases, a weekend relapse may morph into continued use for weeks and even months. Just going back into the recovery rooms in such cases may not be enough. Detox and residential treatment might be needed to ensure positive results. If you are a young adult male who feels like you need extra support, please contact PACE Recovery Center. We can help you address what led to your relapse and to better ensure that it does not happen again.

Resentment: The Crux of Addiction Recovery

resentment

Nobody walks into the rooms of recovery with an un-checkered past. Everyone, even those not working a program of addiction recovery, has done things to others that they regret; and conversely been affected by other people’s actions to the point of anger and resentment. How one is affected by the efforts of others can dramatically shape your future, impacting how one interacts with others. Sometimes anger can lead to lessons learned and moving forward, a vow to never put oneself in a position to be treated in that way again. Other times, feelings about perceived treatment can linger in toxic ways, forcing one to close oneself off from others or lashing out in irrational ways for extended periods of time.

There isn’t just one way to process anger and resentment, but some ways are healthier than others—to be sure. Whether you are new to addiction recovery, or have been in the rooms for decades, it is absolutely vital that you keep those feelings in check. When compared to said “normal” people, there is a big difference between what happens to people in recovery who hold on to resentments. Even a strong program can be eroded from underneath by the corrosive effects of anger and resentment, failing to keep such feelings in check can have disastrous consequences. There is a good reason for 12-Step meeting houses hanging banners that say, ‘Resentment is the “number one” offender’ from chapter 5 in the Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous. Ever reminding members that holding on to such things is a slippery slope to relapse.

Letting Go of Resentment

Most addicts and alcoholics have a Ph.D. in holding on to stuff. It is so easy to convince oneself that our problems are not of our own. That somebody else made the bed and now you have to sleep in it. One tries to stuff the perceived wrongdoing deep down into the cavities of one’s mind, but inevitably the feelings will bubble to the surface to be re-lived again. Someone in active addiction will dull such feelings, or attempt to, with drugs or alcohol—and thus perpetuating the cycle of the disease. It is for such reasons that much emphasis in early recovery is placed on addressing one’s anger towards those of one’s past. The Fourth Step is dedicated to first establishing just what we are upset about, so that we can then do something about freeing yourself from it down the road.

In dealing with resentments, we set them on paper. We listed people, institutions or principles with whom we were angry. We asked ourselves why we were angry. In most cases, it was found that our self-esteem, our pocketbooks, our ambitions, our relationships (including sex) were hurt or threatened. So, we were sore. We were ‘burned up.’

Therein lies the crux of anger, and addressing it in recovery. What was my role? Certainly, there are times when people hurt us without cause, and one has a legitimate right to be bothered. But if you fail to let it go, the feeling only hurts you. It’s is often said that resentment is like drinking poison, hoping someone else dies. But they don’t, the alcoholic and addict is the one that pays the price.

Recovery Is A Process

With a clear mind, looking back on where you believed you were wronged almost always reveals that you had a part in the pain felt. Where you once believed that somebody did you wrong, it was actually you that owes an amends. But that comes a little later on in working the steps, to be made at a time that is decided when working with a sponsor.

There will be times that you will struggle to see the value in establishing what you are resentful about and why, especially early on in recovery. Most newcomers avoid the Fourth Step like the plague, and typically not for the reason one would think. It is usually the re-feeling (resent comes from the French word sentir which means to feel) of pain that makes people eschew this most important step, it is that deep down and if one is honest with themselves they come to realize that they are not usually the actual victim in the narrative of reality at the end of the day. But if one fails to act on such realizations, and chooses to ignore it, relapse is usually inevitable.

It may take some time for you to see the value of letting go of anger, but if you are willing to follow direction and take certain steps as people have for almost a century, recovery is possible and with it limitless possibilities. Below is part of a quote relevant to this topic, from the end of a movie, The Upside of Anger

:

Anger and resentment can stop you in your tracks. That’s what I know now. It needs nothing to burn but the air and the life that it swallows and smothers. It’s real, though – the fury, even when it isn’t. It can change you… turn you… mold you and shape you into something you’re not. The only upside to anger, then… is the person you become. Hopefully someone that wakes up one day and realizes they’re not afraid to take the journey, someone that knows that the truth is, at best, a partially told story. That anger, like growth, comes in spurts and fits, and in its wake, leaves a new chance at acceptance, and the promise of calm.

Early Recovery and Romantic Relationships

early recovery

If you are new to recovery, and have started attending 12-Step meetings, it is likely that you have been bombarded with a lot of information and tips for achieving success in the program. There is very good chance that the people you have met, in the rooms of recovery, cautioned you about people, places and things that could jeopardize your recovery. They have probably warned you about forming romantic relationships within the first year, or until you have worked all the “steps” honestly. As simple as that advice may sound, what you choose to do with that guidance could actually make or break your recovery.

Most people who enter a program of recovery, attempting to turn their life around, have no idea what a healthy relationship is, or what it looks like. Especially since most people with a history of addiction, also have a history of unhealthy relationships. People with substance abuse issues typically gravitate towards others with similar or the same problem. The old saying that ‘misery loves company’ couldn’t be further from the truth. Somebody who drinks or drugs heavily typically doesn’t want to be involved with teetotaler. Perhaps that was your experience?

There are a number of things that can get in the way of your program, especially in early recovery. It could easily be argued that after resentment, relationships take the prize for setting people in recovery on a course to relapse. If you are a young man, clean and sober from drugs and alcohol for the first time, there is a good chance that you have started bubbling with romantic ambition. It would be wise to resist the urge to pursue someone with romantic intention in early recovery. You may be reading this and are saying to yourself, “problem solved, I was in a relationship when I started the journey of living a healthier life.” While that is a valid point, if your partner is still actively using drugs and/or alcohol, it could compromise your program.

Growing Apart in Early Recovery

When you made the choice to pick up the pieces of your life, and embark on a journey of spiritual resurrection, there is a chance that your romantic partner had different plans. He or she may not be ready to admit that they, too, have a problem that needs to be addressed. Or, maybe they do not actually have a substance use disorder and are not in need of treatment or 12-Step meetings. Either way, when one’s partner is “using” while the other is not, it can and often does cause a void in the relationship. It is a schism that can manifest itself in a number of ways.

Having a partner who you once drank or drugged with (who is still using) often has a triggering effect, which could make you want to use again. Naturally, you need to be vigilant in fighting off such urges, and the best way to do that is to invest more of yourself into the program. Recovery is not something that we achieve on our own, we stay the course by forming bonds with a sponsor and a network of peers that you can lean on when times are difficult. Over time you may realize that your romantic relationship is no longer tenable, and that separating is the surest way of protecting the gains you have made in the program.

True Relationships in Early Recovery

If your partner’s continued use is having an impact on you in early recovery, talk to your sponsor and recovery peers. If they advise you to end your relationship for the sake of your recovery, that may be the best course. Your recovery, as you probably have gathered already, must come before anything else. Without your program, you cannot find the gifts of long-term recovery.

In early recovery, your relationship with a “higher power” is the most important, followed by your sponsor and support network. If your partner or spouse is not part of your support network, then she is likely having a countering effect. You have to ask yourself, what is important to you Today? Hopefully, the answer is your recovery.

Relapse: Rejoining the Circle of Recovery

relapseThe holiday weekend is now several days past and hopefully those of you who are working a program of addiction recovery were able to get through Independence Day without incident. We at PACE Recovery understand all too well just how difficult it can be to navigate the waters of recovery during any major holiday. Abstaining from drugs or alcohol during any given day of the week can be a real challenge, during the holidays the obstacles are exponentially greater.

Those who have managed to acquire significant recovery time know that there are certain measures to be taken to aid one in making it through the holidays without a drink or drug. Staying close to your support network, going to 12-Step meetings and keeping your cell phone charged are a few of the ingredients for a safe and sober day of celebration. Naturally, avoiding risky people, places and things that could jeopardize your sobriety and clean time is always advised—especially for those who are in early recovery.

While we fully grasp the difficulty of maintaining your recovery over the holidays, we also regretfully know that many people did in fact relapse over the Fourth of July weekend.

Honest Relapse

Experiencing a relapse is an upsetting event, one that brings about a number of painful feelings. Shame and guilt typically go hand-in-hand with a relapse. One cannot help but feel as though they have not only let themselves down—but also their friends, family and recovery peers. While as natural as those feelings may be, shame and guilt can be a slippery slope manifesting into trying to maintain a lie.

Every person who found recovery in the rooms of Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) or Narcotics Anonymous (NA) is aware of what it felt like to identify as a newcomer in front of a number of people who have more time in recovery than you. You meet people who have several years of clean and/or sober time, and wonder if you will ever be able to accomplish such a feat. After 29 days of identifying as a newcomer, it is likely that you said to yourself—never again.

It is quite common for people who relapse to not tell their recovery peers about a relapse, but still continue to go to meetings as if nothing had happened. Failing to humble yourself and be honest about what happened will eventually begin to weigh on you, a burden that usually leads to more drinking and/or drugging. The sooner you are honest with yourself and those within your recovery circle, the better off you will be. Please do not let a relapse lead to full on active use on account of your pride. Remember the stakes of addiction are ever so high—the difference between life or death.

Rejoining the Circle of Recovery

If you did in fact relapse and have not yet called your sponsor, please do so immediately. If you don’t have a sponsor, get yourself to a meeting and raise your hand when asked if there are any newcomers in the room. Walk up to get a newcomer chip and a hug, so you can reboot your recovery. Such a humbling experience can be the catalyst for a new journey, one where you learn from your past so that you can have a future free from drugs and alcohol; all while in the company of meaningful friends and peers who share the same goal.

Relapse may be a part of your story, but not as mark of shame but rather a reminder of how fleeting your recovery will be if you let down your guard. Eternal vigilance is required to protect against your addiction that is waiting for you to become vulnerable. You are not alone, recovery is an individual goal, that can only be accomplished collectively. Your relapse, while unfortunate, can serve to strengthen your volition.

Addiction Recovery: No Mind Altering Substance is Safe

addiction recoveryEarly addiction recovery is arguably the most difficult, addicts and alcoholics are still developing the skills necessary to maintain a program of abstinence. On top of being newly sober, and a bit shaky, people in early recovery are often bombarded with a lot of information which can become a bit overwhelming for some. What’s more, it is common to hear conflicting opinions from those with significant time regarding the “do’s and the don’ts.”

While it is important to listen to what those in recovery have to say, if you find yourself unsure about something regarding the program it is always best to run one’s uncertainties by your sponsor or therapist. Such people could be compared to a ship’s anchor, keeping you from drifting into unsafe waters. People in early recovery using the 12-steps should look to their sponsor as a model for how to work a program and maintain their sobriety.

A common misconception that many alcoholics and addicts have when starting an addiction recovery program is that they still can use certain mind altering substances, and that they only need to stay away from the drug or drink with which they struggled. Sadly, that line of thinking is in error, many alcoholics who are new to recovery will smoke marijuana, and a number of drug addicts will continue to consume alcohol. More often than not, such actions will lead people back to their substance of choice. It may not happen overnight, but in time the idea will creep back in one’s mind that they can moderately use the drug that brought them to the point of needing recovery in the first place.

The aforementioned misunderstanding may be in part the result of recovery nomenclature, and the multitude of 12-step modeled programs. The idea that somehow an alcoholic is different than an addict, and vice versa; alcoholics attend Alcoholics Anonymous meetings and drug addicts will often choose to attend Narcotics Anonymous. The reality is that Addiction is Addiction, if a person has ever used a mind altering substance to the point of despair, the likelihood that that same person could develop an unhealthy relationship with another potentially addictive substance or behavior is exponentially increased.

If you are new to recovery, working a program to break the cycle of addiction, regardless of which 12-step program you attend please remember that no mind altering substance is safe. Hopefully, it is a warning you hear early on upon entering the rooms of recovery, and one that is heeded with vigilance.

Staying Sober This Christmas

christmasOn the eve of Christmas those in recovery need to prepare themselves for what may be a tumultuous day. It is fair to say that holidays are extremely difficult for people working a program. While everyone wants to be around their family and take part in the celebration, spending time with family can be stressful – especially if alcohol is part of the equation. A significant amount of alcohol is typically consumed during the major holidays and for people in recovery, especially those who are new; it can be difficult to be around. However, if you implement the tools that working a program has given you, it is possible to get through the day with a smile on your face and not pick up a drink.

Avoiding high risk situations that could put your recovery at risk is ever important, even if your family falls into that category. Naturally, just because you have stopped drinking and are creating a new life for yourself, does not mean that others will understand or be conscientious of what you are doing and they may convince you that you can have a drink without consequences. If you are in recovery, you know that if you drink you could lose everything wonderful that the program has given you – which is why you don’t drink no matter what.

Even if you are new to recovery, you are probably aware of what you can and cannot be around. Dangerous people, places and things could jeopardize your recovery. It is likely that you have been invited to some parties being held between now and the New Year, if you must attend it is always wise to bring a recovery peer with you. If that option is not available, it is wise to limit the amount of time that you are at a holiday party. The longer you are around alcohol, the greater the likelihood of experiencing cravings. It always sound to leave parties early.

12-step meetings will be held all day long tomorrow; attending at least one is advised. Being around your family may bring up some emotions that are painful. If you go to a meeting, you can discuss how your feeling with your recovery peers; there is a good chance that others are experiencing the same thing. Talking about how your feeling is the best way to work through the problem and move forward; letting emotions fester is a sure path to a bottle. Always remember that you are not alone, there is entire network of people all working towards the same end. If you are struggling, reach out.

We at Pace Recovery Center would like to wish everyone a Merry Christmas. We hope that you have a safe and sober holiday.

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