Relapse Redefined

When looking at the statistics of recovery and relapse, the numbers can really play a big part of your state of mind during recovery.

I remember when I was still just around six months sober before I'd made the decision to blog about my own journey, I read a blog someone had written about relapse and the reality of the statistics slanted against me. The odds were staggeringly overwhelming, and that seemed to discourage any pride I had in myself.

Deck Stacked Against Us

It's also around this time I learned the fundamental practice the big book teaches, that 'you will relapse'. I called my best friend really upset that a program geared toward recovery would seemingly set you up for relapse. She went on to explain that it's probably more there so that when people relapse they know their support system doesn't disappear as well, and that makes sense, although that, coupled with the actual statistics didn't do much to bolster my confidence.

blue and yellow plastic toy revolver pistol

At the time, I already knew most of my triggers but what I didn't know that 'triggers' play a bigger role in successful recovery than the statistics lead you to believe.

A 'trigger' is any stimuli; thought, emotion, place, person, a situation that can "trigger" a ritualistic response.


-think Pavlov's dog. You have trained your body (through a sort of reward system) to anticipate a drink when encountering these triggers.

Understanding these triggers can really be the make or break in anyone's successful recovery because it dissects the relapse and dismantles it in a way the individual can comprehend, and thus avoid.

People who can handle or avoid these triggers without succumbing to the coping mechanism of the addiction can go on to live very successful, addiction-free lives.

What The Book Doesn't Tell You

In fact, 60% of people who can get past the first two years without alcohol, then go on to live alcohol-free lives. Furthermore, once you hit the five-year mark, your probability of relapse decreases to less than 15%.

Now as I approach the 19-month mark of my sobriety, I feel still as if the statistics are slanted against the addict, but it isn't really about the stats.

Do you think Michael Phelps slows down during a race because of the average statistics of what a swimmer's speed should be? No, he doesn't. He beats records because he can, and guess what people, we can do that too!

We too can bust through the barriers that bind us to the 'norm'!

Don't feel like you have to fit anyone's mold of what an addict in recovery should look like.

The statistics of relapse don't define us if we redefine the statistics of relapse!

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