Arlene J. Sherman, Recovery Coach, C.Ht.

unhappy woman with head in hand

You’ve relapsed so many times, after any number of treatment facilities; maybe you have thrown your hands up in the air and decided you just simply cannot stay clean.
Or maybe you’ve only had one relapse. All that matters is that you have a clear understanding that no failure is a final failure unless you stop trying.

What you are not taking into account is that you are not the same person that failed all those past times. Maybe this time you are a lot or only a little older. Maybe you are in a different city, different relationship, different job. Or just maybe you have said “Enough!” and mean it this time. And then too, maybe timing is a huge factor in your mind-set. I have never agreed that past failures are final failures. So many things that we try to accomplish require multiple attempts. Smoking cessation is a perfect example.

It is estimated that becoming a nonsmoker can take as many as seven attempts. It doesn’t matter how many times you have failed; what matters is that you keep on keeping on. No one says “I am a nonsmoker but I failed so many times.” No, they just say that they are a nonsmoker.

Never put up that white flag. Never.

Success can be the next time. I have seen it time and again. Some of my clients have tried eight times, ten times. Who cares? It does not matter.

Do not accept failure. There is nothing and no one that can keep you from trying again.

Relapse is easy, and that is worth knowing. Many attempts mean a lot
of experience. Many attempts show you that you are not taking no for an answer. Many attempts show you that one of these times, you will have this nailed. Not nailed in a cocky way, but nailed in the way that this time you are willing and ready to fight.

Not giving up is not giving in. We know that recovery is not a walk in the park and that many people try and try and try. Think of all the success that AA has even though almost half of the people that join AA leave in the first three months. When you succeed, you do not count how many tries got you there. Because, if you have had the experience of multiple relapse, you are well aware of the pitfalls. This next time could be your time. The question for you should be “If not now, when?”

Why not now? How much time since your last attempt? It does not matter. Just try and try and try. Recall what had made you slip last time? The time before? Can you see similarities? Can you start to compile your own personal slip list? Can you honestly answer the question about how much you want recovery?

Have you relapsed because you stopped going to meetings? Stopped speaking with your sponsor? Started hanging out with old user friends? What was it? Was it boredom? Frustration? Give it a name. Know what your enemy is, who your enemy is.

Maybe you haven’t addressed in total truthfulness why you have relapsed. It is critical to take a long, hard look. Get a journal. Start your “slip list” so you have a clear written road map of traps. Be brutally honest. This time can be the time. Go for it.

Arlene J. Sherman is the author of two books, The Real Dope on Addiction and Recovery and I am Your Recovery Coach. She has been working with Angels Recovery and other well– known drug and alcohol treatment centers in South Florida for the last several years. In addition to Ms. Sherman’s hypnotherapy practice, she is a recovery coach and a motivational coach, and she has an expertise in stress management.