The Sadness of Relapse

Lately there has been a few past clients showing up in our detox program and calling sounding under the influence of alcohol.  Relapse or return to using alcohol and drugs is a very common phenomena in the work I do.  It is often difficult to predict who is going to do well and who is not. 

Sometimes the ones that seem so promising do not last long before they are calling and asking for help.  At least when they ask for help we can do something, others don’t ask but just seem to slip back into their full addiction.  When people have recovery happening it always feels very sad to me if they slip back into their old ways.  There is no judgment about not doing well but a compassion for how powerful addictions are.

This got me thinking about: What stops or limits people from making the healthy choices necessary to leave their addictions behind? 

Here are 10 reason that seem to complicate ongoing recovery:

  1. They feel as if in some way they deserve their life of suffering
  2. They have such painful emotions inside that they find alcohol and drugs are the only things that work to numb out
  3. They are stuck in a family cycle of use, abuse and addiction and they know no other way of living
  4. They lack a strong enough support system including AA, NA, and sober family and friends
  5. They feel such shame and guilt that they don’t know how to move on from their past
  6. They forget that the addiction is too powerful to ignore and they slip back under the influence
  7. They have such poor self-esteem that they always feel down on themselves and need to escape their negativity
  8. They feel overwhelmed by the responsibilities of life and decide to check out
  9. They get entangled with another addict and the two of them seem to keep each other down.
  10. They have a big self-sabotage aspect of themselves and head themselves into trouble when things are going too well


Breaking these cycles takes readiness, determination, a plan, lots of support, and daily effort.  If I had these qualities in a magic potion, I would make sure each client left with enough of a supply for the rest of their lifetime.  I don’t have a magic formula but I do know that this is a disease that is almost impossible to beat without the strong support of others and a real clarity of intention.

May those who suffer this path find the light of their own inspiration and the warmth of their heart’s compassion.