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"I'll Only Use If…"

A bad break-up, disease, or a zombie apocalypse; these are a few hypothetical situations that many people may have joked about or taken into honest consideration in regards to a ‘reason’ to relapse. I know I myself have sat with a few friends in sobriety and openly joked about a few special circumstances that some might consider as reasonable motivation to go out and use, even after being clean and sober a considerable amount of time, that are really just excuses.

The reality of it is that when looking at some of these circumstances we can only say how we hope we would react to the situation. There is no way of knowing how we would honestly be affected by certain things. However as long as one remains in fit spiritual condition and has grown in their understanding of what drinking or using to solve a problem will do to them, and how it won’t fix the problem, there is a pretty good chance neither temptation or tragedy could take them back out.

Relationship Ends

Most people in recovery grow out of this particular reservation relatively quickly, or at least they like to think so. Holding the reservation that if your intimate relationship ends and you are devastated in the event you will drink or get high is typically not openly expressed. Some people don’t even admit it to themselves, or just can’t.

However the truth is a large percentage of people in recovery who relapse start drinking or using again after a break-up with someone, especially if the relationship is extensive or serious. It is important to work on yourself as an individual and prepare yourself for a situation like this.

Getting away from codependency and becoming strong as an individual is the best way to avoid this situation. Loving yourself, gaining self-worth, and investing yourself in you passions and goals will help you maintain your independence. Also working consistently on a program of active recovery is important.

Death of a loved one

Death is another unsettling part of life, especially when someone in recovery loses a loved one unexpectedly. Losing a loved one under any circumstances really is emotionally agonizing, and it takes its toll on everyone differently. Some of us say we might relapse if we lost someone special to us like a parent, sibling, or best friend. But using or drinking is not the answer.

In active addiction or alcoholism we use our drugs and drinking often to drown out the feelings that we don’t want to face, to numb ourselves to the hurt. And the longing associated with death of those we care about is a perfect example. Drinking and using never fixes it though, and it can never bring that person back. Just ask anyone who lost a loved one and tried to drink the pain away, it only makes the misery last longer.

Contracting a deadly illness

Illness and disease is often said to be a great hypothetical excuse to relapse back into using and drinking. I have heard people say if they found out they have cancer and they are going to either die soon or struggle for a while with illness, they would just go out and drink and use in the meantime.

I have to admit this one I have even debated at points in my sobriety. I have questioned myself the extent of my commitment when faced with the idea of being sick and suffering from a condition that would kill me, and having to second guess if I would be able to avoid numbing myself with drugs and alcohol. But then I’m reminded one of the real reasons I’m sober.

I got clean and sober because I wanted whatever life I have left to be a quality of life. Because at the end of the day when you really think about it, I know I could die any day of the week. My life is not a guarantee; every day is a miracle that I am alive and sober. So in my opinion, using the fact that I will one day die as an excuse to get high or drink is pointless, because one day my time will be over, cancer or no cancer. My quality of life should always come first. Relapse out of fear is poor justification.

Winning the lottery

I’ve had long debates with friends about this one, because a lot of people again are unsure how honest and humble they would be able to stay if they were suddenly gifted with millions of dollars. This one comes with a lot of uncertainty because people think to themselves, if they had enough money to be set up for life, would it really be that much of a problem to use and drink recklessly?

I have heard people argue this on both sides. Some people insist that any addiction or alcoholic who won that much money would relapse because the financial consequences are gone and they can buy their way out of other issues. However some people do not hit a financial low, and money has nothing to do with why they chose to get clean and sober.

Again this becomes the question of the quality of life. While making the reservation that you will only use if you win the lottery, keep in mind that the quality of your life, and your true connection, love and happiness do not rely on your wallet. The things that make sobriety and make life more fulfilling are the things we gain through spirituality and real relationships. Money can buy a lot of drugs and alcohol, but in many peoples personal experience, it cannot buy happiness for an addict or alcoholic.

Zombie Apocalypse

Just to close out on a strong note, let’s just say that there is an epidemic of the un-dead eating people and the world is collapsing. Society has self-destructed and the world seems to be crashing to an end. This can include other apocalyptic disasters such as:

  • Meteor
  • World Flood
  • Nuclear Holocaust
  • Alien Invasion
  • Super Villain Master Plan

Basically any insane idea of the end of the world as we know it, some people will consider to be the only time they will relapse, but it should be a good enough excuse. I had some serious trouble with this one, because I watch too many movies and I think if it did happen it would be tough to keep making my meetings or sponsoring people.

Then again, the last hours of the world should probably be spent caring for others and helping them. The selfish part of me wants to say when the sky comes falling down I will be hiding in a liquor store. But the better part of me that lives in the solution holds out hope that I would still be able to offer help to others instead of poisoning myself. In the event of a zombie apocalypse or an alien invasion, I’ll probably need to have my wits in case there is a chance to fight back or escape, and I always wanted to drink a space ship so I probably shouldn’t do it drunk.

Regardless these excuses, I do my best to eliminate the possibility of any reservations so that I can stop even considering reasons to drink or drug, and focus on the things in my life that deem it unnecessary. As long as I remain in fit spiritual condition, I should be in a position to survive anything that life hands me.

Alcoholics and addicts find more than enough reasons to drink, use drugs, and sometimes even to relapse after a period of sobriety, but full recovery is possible if you are willing to let go of those justifications and work toward change. If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, please call toll-free 1-800-951-6135 

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