“Relapse is not an option.”
We meet many as we journey through recovery, and most of the time, when we listen, there lies inspiration and guidance. One such piece of advice came from Tom Morgan, who repeated, repeatedly, his internal sound beat; “Relapse is not an option.” We let that sink in; we paused and let it sink in deeper.
This phrase has become a mantra as we have seen many relapses into death.
Does this sound too dramatic to you? If so, we plead that, at a minimum, it is recognized that the possibility of death exists.
It has been heard around the rooms that ”relapse does not define.” But, to further emphasize the matter of mortality, we suggest that relapse indeed described the dead – for those that went back out and didn’t answer the ultimate bell, abuse inked their cause.
So, what does one do to prevent abuse-caused death? As you can't have an action without a thought, we might suggest that we think about how we think. And if we believe that relapse is an option, it certainly could become one. So, let us start with the foundational self-statement: “Relapse is not an option.”
Make this simple statement your battle cry as Tom did – for decades. As Mike R has for over four years.
Take it seriously and take it off the table; just as the word “divorce” should be removed as an option while discussing marital problems, the words “relapse” and “if” should not be allowed to bounce inside a recovering head or to utter past one’s lips.
Repeat and repeat this statement inside and outside until it becomes a thick thread in the shield of sobriety.
This is the beginning and the end of relapse prevention, and in the middle, we might suggest pursuing the following preventative practices:
To “cease resistance to an enemy or opponent and submit to their authority” is the Oxford definition of the word surrender.
The best defense may be a good offense, and the best offense, in the case of addiction, is to surrender. Surrender to the reliance on the weapons we came into battle with (weak strategies and self-will). Instead, surrender, or commit to following unfailingly, a war strategy that has worked for millions.
Surrender to the program and steps of Alcoholics Anonymous (AA).
Submit to the authority the words laid out in the Big Book. Cease resisting the direction/suggestions of others who have worked the program. Understand that ego is the enemy.
At this point, we agree that surrender cannot be done in half measure. Glenn defines surrender as “doing anything you tell me.. to not drink again!” He has taken total direction from AA and his sponsor, finding relapse-free success for over eight years.
We breathe to live. We eat to live. These are life’s most basic requirements, and we prioritize delivering those needs daily, minute by minute.
Just below these basic requirements and absolutely above other “wants” should be the priority we place on our sobriety.
We get none of the fullness of life's blessings unless we continue to place sobriety in the essential life requirement category.
We have learned over the years that our decisions and actions reflect our commitment to this priority. A good filter question would be, “is what I'm about to do a reflection of the priority I have for sobriety in my life?” A simple example would be, “is having dinner at this bar a greater priority than my sobriety? If one is unsure what the correct answer is – call somebody in the program; Is staying up late depriving myself of sleep rightfully prioritizing my sobriety?; Is this fast food prioritizing my sobriety?; Is calling this person consistent with my priorities?
Our primary filter and our ability to read our motives have proven to be a relapse preventer for us, and we hope it works for you,
In conclusion, these two recovery elements directly correspond to our ability to stay sober through the good and bad times. Consider that our level of surrender and prioritization directly ties to our level of sobriety,
Don't let egotism get in the way of recovery. If you do, the result could be death.
Thoughts and ideas for this blog post were taken and built upon from a bonus drop sober.coffee podcast titled #113 Success in AA…The podcast dropped on 05/24/2023. Click here to hear the podcast.
Alcoholics Anonymous and AA are registered trademarks of Alcoholics World Service. Inc. References to AA, the 12 steps, and 12 traditions does not mean that AA has reviewed or approved the contents of this publication nor that AA agrees with the views expressed herein. This publication is intended to support personal growth and should not be considered a substitute for healthcare professionals' advice. The author’s advice and viewpoints are their own.