Alcoholic Relapse Starts With The Cookie

I’m not really sure what Old-timer Tom meant when he said, The relapse starts with the cookie, but it made an impression on me. I was less than one year into my recovery and it stuck with me.

I’ve continued eating cookies but I’ve not found it necessary to take a drink for 4 years. There have been a couple of close calls. I’ve been thinking about the beginning of relapses lately. I realize now that picking up a drink isn’t where the relapse starts. I think that’s what Tom meant. A relapse begins a long time before that first drink.

Somehow, by the time we decide to drink, we’ve started believing the untruths again. The longer I’m in recovery, the more I believe addiction is a battle of truth vs untruth. If I could limit the untruth that enters my mind, I’d be less likely to relapse.

The following are traits that signal I’m sliding sideways and in trouble:

Pride. Before AA, I thought I was pretty nearly perfect. No kidding. I didn’t want to change and I didn’t think I needed to. Identifying my natural character defects has forced me to reduce the lies I’ve believed about myself. Thanks again Step 4!

Shutting down. I thought I had perfectly justifiable reasons for not talking to anyone else about my problems. I’d tried many kinds of counseling and therapy groups but life never got much better. I learned a lot and I shared openly. That was always the case. But I didn’t change. (In fact some of my counselors made my personal life more complicated.) Nothing ever got resolved. So I believed another lie: I have good reason to keep my struggles to myself. Thanks to AA, I know better because when I start shutting down and keeping things to myself –I’m headed for trouble again.

Impatience. I start expecting people to do what I want them to do. I don’t even wait to be asked; I shove my opinions into the conversation before there’s an opening. Then when they don’t follow my advice, I’m angry with them.

Tired. When I’m not recharging my batteries by doing things that I love, then I get depleted and irritable. I also need a lot of sleep. Being emotionally and physically tired keeps me from being mentally alert. I’m an easier target for falsehoods. Speaking of those, am I using the 10th Step Worksheet daily?

Afraid. I get fearful of ridiculous things when I’m starting to lose my edge. For me, procrastination is another word for fear. If I’m procrastinating on anything I know I’m not okay. I need to get the AA book out and read or listen to some recovery-oriented tapes, go to a meeting and check to see if I am still meditating and praying daily. Doing that is like Gatorade for my emotional imbalance. After a good dose, I start to feel balanced.

These are my cookies. What are yours? Do you have a behavior or an attitude that surfaces when you are about to go into a skid?