We learn very quickly that recovery is a lifelong journey. There’s no definitive end; just a series of progressive milestones that we meet and celebrate, and from which we gain strength. Like any lifetime endeavor, we can, and often do, find ourselves stumbling a bit along the way throughout the course of our recovery. The reality of this journey is that relapse is possible even after years of progress and sobriety. In an effort to further insulate ourselves from the possibility of these setbacks, we can perform regular self-diagnostics to assess our level of strength and growth. It’s entirely possible that, at some point along the way, we may need some extra help from our therapists at various points of the recovery process.
One of the inevitabilities of life is that things change, and not always for the better. Our loved ones pass, we go through periods of economic hardship, relationships go south and all manner of other obstacles threaten our mental health (and recovery) on a daily basis. Whenever those of us in the recovery community experience these types of issues, we have the extra layer of obligation to make sure that we have other means to cope other than drugs or alcohol. By periodically asking ourselves if we’re OK, and answering ourselves honestly, we’re putting ourselves more in touch with our feelings and any emotional difficulties we may be experiencing.
Relapse rates are unfortunately high among the recovery community, even for those with years of sobriety under their belts. It does not, however, have to be an accepted reality for all of us. The more aware we are of our potential vulnerability, and the more honest we are about our choices in addressing it, the more effective we can be in heading our vulnerability off at the path. It’s critical that we check in with ourselves once in a while to see if we’re OK. If we’re not, we should ask ourselves why, and what we can do about it.