American Addiction Centers is a national behavioral healthcare provider focused on addiction treatment and rehabilitation. Effective addiction recovery incorporates comprehensive treatment focused on uncovering and addressing the roots of addiction. Follow this blog to get information on alcohol and drug addiction.
At the end of the day, when the bottle is empty, and you still want more, when you are alone, even when the room is full, and your drunkenness fails to bring you relief you have a choice; do it again tomorrow, or start living now. The second you make the choice to start living opportunity arises from the wake of destruction you have created. The flame that you managed to drown is resilient, and a spark of hope flickers the second you hit the “enough“switch. Whether that spark catches fire or is snuffed out is completely up to you.
Captain Michael Morse, retired, Providence Fire Department
You may be intoxicated when you choose to get sober, but know this; not all of the choices we make while under the influence are bad. Alcohol is a powerful drug, or we wouldn’t worship it with such abandon. It accompanies us on many memorable moments, and allows us to shed our inhibitions and take chances we normally would avoid.
The choices we make while inebriated are not always wise, but choosing to let go of the safety net and try life unimpeded by chemical enhancement is one of the smartest decisions a person struggling with addiction will make.
Never knowing if we reached our potential, or felt what we could feel, or loved as deeply as our soul allows because we were drunk during the moments that matter is a curse that can be lifted. It is a heavy load, one that a thousand giants cannot bear without the cooperation of the person afflicted. Once that person ignites the flame of hope, all it takes is one. And that person has been waiting for the opportunity to rise up and grab life by the throat, shake it loose, free the doubt, fear, self loathing and wonder. That person is you.
The idea of sobriety that began in a state of intoxication lingers the day after, and when the battle begins anew, and the voices start their incessant chatter, the spark that was ignited has the ability to grow into an inferno hot enough to quiet the shouts and screams of the demons that you have chosen to abandon, and the flame’s roar eventually turns into a whisper as the desire to start life again takes hold. Make no mistake; this is a choice between heaven and hell. We who drink to excess have experienced both, and I for one know exactly which existence I prefer. I lived in peace and relative tranquility until I found how to destroy it by drinking.
I lived in a hell of my own making by drinking my serenity away. But that peace is still there, and the only chance I have of re-discovering it is to maintain sobriety, and live my life to the fullest. This journey I have chosen to embark upon is only possible if I leave the booze behind. The twelve once bottles I once swallowed with ease now carry the weight of a thousand lost opportunities, and I’ll be damned if will make myself bear that weight for the rest of my days.
Captain Michael Morse, retired, Providence Fire Department
It has been said that the lord helps those who help themselves.
Help ourselves? Hold my beer, I’ll get right on that! This way of thinking is perfect for the alcoholic. I helped myself to all kinds of things for decades; beer mostly, but whiskey and tequila too, drugs of all kinds, and whatever else I could find that made me feel better than I already did. When it came to helping myself, I was the master.
But what if helping myself meant something more? What if helping myself did not mean taking everything I could to make myself feel better in the moment, but instead was more of a long term approach to surviving this existence unfettered by outside chemicals that blur the reality we are meant to experience?
If only drugs and alcohol did what they were supposed to, I wouldn’t have to think these things through!
Looking back on my inebriated state of mind I find it difficult to remember ever getting drunk or high without some sort of nagging doubt that I was not behaving in an exemplarily way. I knew on an instinctual level that what I was up to was an epic squander of my potential, but chose to ignore those thoughts and continue beating myself up.
The numbing effects of my intoxicants of choice were not 100% effective. Clarity always lurked at the fringes, waiting for an opportunity to heap on a healthy dose of guilt, shame and remorse. Whenever those feelings arose, I quickly banished them with more of what I was up to, effectively delaying beginning the road to wellness and sobriety.
Fortunately, the mind of an addict turns relentlessly.
It is difficult for us to allow reason and sanity into our consciousness once we have become dependent on numbness, but I believe far from impossible. Learning to listen to your inner voice, and to act on the advice that voice offers is a skill that can either be developed slowly, year by year, decade by decade, lifetime by lifetime or a bit more quickly.
A great way to “help ourselves” is to learn how to use the available tools to get the job done. But what tools? My favorite tool is the hammer. With it I beat myself up with no direction, no goals and no hope of doing anything but whack away in futility. Whenever I allowed the possibility that my behavior needed change into my thinking I would hammer away at the problem with plenty of purpose but no direction. Eventually I grew tired of beating myself up and resumed my comfortable lifestyle.
The tools needed to create a sober, productive and contented life will remain inanimate objects and ideas without purpose unless somebody decides to activate them. Drugs and alcohol are also benign without somebody willing and able to put them to use. Learning how to use drugs and alcohol is relatively easy; the tools needed to combat the destruction they inevitably will cause are a little more complex.
I believe we have two choices:
1. The easy way; reaching for our drug of choice and checking out
2. The way that takes a little effort; reaching out to another person who knows how to put the tools of sobriety to use and checking back in
When we make the decision to help ourselves, the choice is crystal clear. Finding the right people who know how to use the tools is how to begin. Once I learned how to use the proverbial hammer with purpose and direction everything started to come together.
Captain Michael Morse, retired, Providence Fire Department
We can’t help it; we grow older. Every day that passes brings us closer to the finish line. Do you want to limp to the end, dragging with you the weight of unfulfilled dreams, regrets, questions and the nagging reality that because of your drinking precious time was wasted? Or would you prefer to look back at a life well lived, lessons learned, dreams fulfilled and time spent wisely?
Maybe yours is a life of futility. Do you wake every day, knowing what to expect? Do you wait for the hangover to subside before you can begin thinking clearly, or do you take the easy road, an eye opener to make things right? Do you tell yourself day after day that today will be different, that things will get done and relationships will be mended only to give in, and fail, and resort to comfortable habits?
Are you tired of always wondering what if?
What if I didn’t start drinking?
What if I stopped drinking when I felt “just right?”
What if I could feel good without the added burden of intoxication?
What if I spend the rest of my life wondering what if?
Well, how about this?
What if I accept the fact that I cannot drink safely?
What if I learned to recognize exactly how it feels to feel “just right” without drinking?
What if I knew, absolutely and completely that I already feel better than I will if I start drinking?
What if I didn’t have to worry about “What If?”
There is something to be gained from making the choice to start a sober life; something unexpected, profound and uplifting. The moment you cross over from the “what if” mentality to the “what now” mindset you free yourself from unmet expectations, anxiety and self doubt. You may not accomplish everything you thought you would, but you will know that what you managed to get done was everything that you could. You will no longer have to wonder if you left anything on the table because of your intoxicated, hung over, and unmotivated, broke, tired and miserable state of being. The sober you may not be a sports star, rocket scientist, great lover and perfect parent, and probably will never be, but by taking your addictions out of the equation you will know, without a doubt, that whatever you are, were and will be is exactly what you were designed to be, and no substance got in your way.
We can waste our lives wondering, and many of us do. Many more of us waste years, even decades thinking that everything will work out, that we have things under control and we are leading the lives we are supposed to. Those of us that know, and I believe that each and every one of us that struggles with addictions knows, that our behavior is unsustainable have a choice; start now and get on with things, or continue to ask what if.
It may have taken me far too long to get on with things, but I now know that even though I spent a long time in limbo I am now able to use what some consider time wasted as the foundation of my sobriety. I know exactly how frustrating life is in a constant state of wonder. I also know how great it is to no longer have to wonder what if, and instead am able to look forward to what’s next.
Captain Michael Morse, retired, Providence Fire Department
I look at them, the homeless alcoholics in their intoxicated state and wonder; why am I the fortunate one who saw things through? Why is it them on my stretcher and not me on theirs? They seem so sure of themselves while the effects of the alcohol are in control, but I know the truth. I have experienced the rest of the story. I know where it inevitably leads.
I see the college kids, puke on their clothes, bruises on their bodies, rage in their eyes. I know how they feel, how the booze is just a distraction, how they will let it go when the semester is through, when break is over, after exams, when they graduate. .
I pull them from their mangled cars, sometimes alive, sometimes barely, sometimes not at all and wonder why I survived the reckless abandon I lived my life with, the alcohol fueled stupidity that put me in places and situations I would have otherwise never dreamed possible. . .
I wonder why they don’t see it through, why they refuse to understand that for them, and people like them, people like me, one is too many and a thousand is not enough.
I wonder why my words fall on deaf ears, and why the time I have with them is wasted, and why they refuse to understand that the reason they are on the stretcher in the back of the ambulance that I am in charge of has everything to do with the one they could so easily have refused.
Then I remember. It took me twenty five years of near misses before I learned how to live my life without having just one. It took that long because the effects of alcohol on my mind and body were so euphoric, so desirable and so addictive that I was willing to risk everything to feel it. It mattered not that one led to two, two to three, three to a dozen, a dozen to other and more powerful things. From the day I began drinking from need rather than desire the only thing that could stop me from overdoing it was to not do it. There is no such thing as just one for people like me. Too bad, too because the effects from that one truly feels great. Two is a little better, three not so much, four begins the descent, at five it’s over and the rest just keep piling on the misery.
I look at them, unconscious on my stretcher, and wish that I could do more, that I could get through somehow, and that I could save them from the misery that awaits them. I know that their seemingly peaceful intoxication is anything but; I know what is coming, the shame, the regret, the disappointment, the bargaining, the loss, the reality that before long, it will begin again.
I leave them in the care of the people at the emergency room, roll them from my stretcher to their bed, cover them with a blanket if one is handy and hope that when they wake up this is the time they see things through. People like us will never have just one; it is not in our makeup. There will always be the need for more than enough. It’s just the way it is.
Or not. Seeing the first drink through helps. Learning how to do that is the secret.
Captain Michael Morse, retired, Providence Fire Department
Years of heavy drinking led me to question everything about myself. When I drank, I liked nothing more than to do so alone. When I had to be with others I would hoard alcohol, lie about how much I drank, never, ever admit I was intoxicated and preferred to be left alone! When by myself I never had to lie, pretend I was sober, hide myself or my stash or be anything but what I wanted to be. I wanted to drink to excess, and that is exactly what I did. When I stopped wanting to do that, I did so anyway. When I finally got help, I still wanted to be alone and drink to excessively, but I wanted to be with the rest of humanity more, and I wanted it badly enough to stop drinking completely and rejoin the people I had forsaken.
Imagine my surprise when I learned, after lengthy sobriety, that I still wanted to be alone!
Maybe, I figured, my personality traits are what they are, and my drinking did not cause them. I always thought that everything that is wrong with the way I felt, and the way I acted had everything to do with my troubles with alcohol. Now, I’m starting to realize that the way I feel and act is not a result of my excessive drinking; rather, my drinking excessively was caused by the way I felt and acted.
Knowing that I am not the sum total of a thousand shots of tequila and a hundred thousand beers is a relief. I was this way before I did all of that, and I am still the same person now. In sobriety I have learned to recognize my isolationist tendencies, and give myself a choice; I can enjoy the solitude, and use it as a time for reflection, rejuvenation and serenity, or, if it just doesn’t feel right, (and I have learned to trust my instincts,) I can break out of my loneliness and connect with another person.
I never felt comfortable in my own skin. I was always self-conscious, never truly peaceful. Instead of growing up emotionally and learning to deal with those thoughts and feelings I disguised them with the effects of alcohol, and effectively stunted my growth for twenty-five years. Even now, with nearly two decades of sobriety I still revert back to the person I was before any alcohol fueled interventions.
Some people enjoy solitude, and thrive in it. I am not one of those people. I love being alone for brief periods, but always feel anxious when left by myself for too long. With my sidekick alcohol I was able to withstand longer periods of solitude, and effectively avoided growing. Now that I am keeping my alcoholic tendencies at bay I am able to begin to understand what makes me tick, and why I need both solitude and involvement. I now realize that the beauty of sobriety has a lot to do with possibilities. Before I managed to keep prolonged sobriety there was a very good possibility that every day would end pretty much the same way; me, alone and intoxicated. Now, there is that chance, but if that is how things go it is me who made it so, not my innate need to isolate. The options I have are limitless, and I do not have to find a place to hide away.
Understanding comes slowly to some people. For me, it is a journey, not a destination.
I think that if I ever do understand everything, I’ll have eternity to be by myself. In the mean time, it is nice to have the choices that sobriety gives me, and the knowledge that who I am I always was.
If someone in your family is struggling with alcohol or drug addiction, the holidays are the best time to handle the problem. Though your first inclination may be to postpone the discussion in order to avoid ruining the holiday, it is actually the most opportune moment there is to take action. Family is gathered, everyone is feeling emotionally generous due to the holiday, and your loved one in crisis may be more open to the idea of change with the new year pending.
If you are considering giving your loved one the gift of rehab this holiday season, here are the steps that will help you make it happen:
Consider what type of drug addiction treatment services will be most effective. Does your loved one struggle with mental health issues? Are they diagnosed? Do you believe they are facing post-traumatic stress disorder, bipolar disorder, or another specific mental health problem? Is chronic pain an issue? Do they have a high-dose addiction? Have they attempted rehab on multiple occasions or is this their first time? The answers to these questions and more can help you to identify the best possible type of drug rehab for your loved one, whether it is an inpatient treatment program, a program designed specifically for first responders, or outpatient treatment.
Contact your insurance company. Depending on what your insurance company covers, you may be able to get all or most of the cost of treatment taken care of in advance. It is important to take the time to determine what is covered by your insurance provider and what, if any, medical “proof” is required to secure coverage for treatment.
Determine the out-of-pocket cost. If there is any amount left over after insurance has paid to assist, add that to the cost of transportation and any items that your loved one may need in treatment. For family budgeting purposes, consider how household finances will be impacted with the loss of your loved one’s income, care of dependents at home, etc.
Determine what “holes” will need to be filled if your loved one goes to treatment. Does your loved one usually take care of the dog while you are at work? Do they go grocery shopping? Do they manage any aspect of the household that you will now need to cover in their absence? None of these are obstacles to your loved one getting treatment; they will not be able to continue managing these responsibilities for long if addiction continues untreated, but these issues can be identified and addressed in advance.
Meet with concerned family members to work out details. When you know the out-of-pocket costs and what will need to be covered or dealt with in your loved one’s absence, meet with family members to pool your funds, ideas, and efforts to make it happen.
Secure a spot for your loved one. Once you have determined the set of treatment services or type of program that will be most effective, find the best drug addiction treatment center for your needs. Enroll your loved one in advance and make sure there is a spot available for them to start as soon as possible.
Handle the details. Once you have your family gathered and your loved one enrolled in treatment, it is time to attend to the details. For example, you may need to purchase plane tickets for your loved one and a companion to get to the treatment program, pack a bag with all the items they will need while in treatment, or make other changes that will facilitate a smooth transition into drug rehab.
Stage an intervention. When you have everything in order, and your family is organized and ready to move forward, it is time to stage an intervention. Give everyone a chance to consider what they will say in advance (e.g., identifying the changes that have occurred since addiction took hold, supporting the move to treatment, and stating how they will no longer support the person’s life in addiction if applicable).
Is this the year you give your loved one and your entire family the gift of recovery through comprehensive addiction treatment?
Recovery is all about making huge shifts in every part of your life.
From where you live to where you work and what you do in your free time, nothing is safe from extreme change when your focus is on staying sober. Avoiding triggers as much as possible and removing contact from the usual sources of high stress can help you to avoid relapse, but if there are toxic people in your life on a daily basis, it may be time to go beyond avoidance and cut ties completely.
When Is It Time to Go?
It is easy enough to put some distance between yourself and the guys on the corner who get high every day or old friends you used to get high with who live in another part of town. What is not so easy is to find the distance you need from family members, spouses or partners, and close friends who are in your life – and potentially in your home – every day.
It is not a simple or easy decision to cut ties from someone completely, but there are a number of indications that it may be the best choice even if that person is a parent, sibling, or spouse. Culturally, we may feel compelled to maintain an active involvement with people to whom we are married or related, but the fact is that if it is not a healthy relationship and interactions with this person cause you anxiety, anger, high stress, or other emotions that make it more difficult to stay, it is time to move on.
Signs that it’s time to break ties include:
A spouse or family member has an alcohol or drug use problem of their own or drinks and/or uses drugs regularly and it is difficult for you to be around them.
There is constant fighting, accusations, mistrust and/ or volatile emotions between you.
There is physical violence of any kind, either by you or against you.
Your loved one is emotionally manipulative (e.g., crying, withholding, lying, guilt tripping, etc.) in order to enforce their will upon your choices.
While you may feel concerned that you are losing “support,” the fact is that if a loved one is toxic, it is far healthier for you to take your space and focus on your recovery.
Do You Need to Have a Formal Conversation?
Once you have made the decision to let go of your relationship with the toxic person in your life, the question becomes how to make this clear to them and follow through. If you live with the person in question, it is an unavoidable discussion and one that will mostly likely heavily focus on when you will be moving out.
Discuss the issue in the context of a therapy session, if possible. Having a therapist there, especially if you have both been working with them for a while, can help you both to stay focused and productive in your communication.
Otherwise, have a neutral third party present for support.
Choose a time when everyone is calm. Avoid times of high stress in which the conversation will just add to an already tense situation and inevitably be poorly received.
Opt for a venue in which both of you feel comfortable. Similarly, choosing to broach the conversation when both of you are somewhere you feel safe can help to keep stress levels lower.
Stick to “I” statements. As in “I need to take a step back for a while” rather than “You are too hard to be around.”
Stick to your convictions. It is likely that the person may try to change your mind or argue that any separation or time away is unnecessary and/or your fault and not theirs.
Follow through. It is hard enough to have the conversation about putting space between you and someone to whom you are close, but it’s even harder to have that conversation twice. Make sure that once you have made your intentions clear, you follow through and make the changes necessary.
Can You Ever Consider Reconnecting?
Maybe, but that is not the concern and focus of the conversation at this time. What the future holds for either or both of you is unknown, and it is not productive to put a time clock on it or a “wait and see” that will cause both of you to feel pressured and stressed. If it is time to take a break, take a break, and if things naturally evolve such that it is appropriate to try a tentative reunion, then you can both address your needs at that time.
Captain Michael Morse, retired, Providence Fire Department
People like me desperately hang on to the belief that we are not an addict or an alcoholic. We truly believe that if we are one of those dreadful things, then those words will define us, and for the rest of our days we will by trapped inside the mind and body of a person who is unlike everybody else. We dread the thought so much that we find a way to dissolve the very idea that we may be so inflicted by participating in the behaviors of a full blown alcoholic or addict!
Nuts, I say. Words do not begin to define a complex human being. I have developed a few strategies over the years that allow me the luxury of being free from alcoholism and addictive behavior.
It took me many long years to develop the ideas, some are better than others, and lots of sleepless nights dwelling on them.
Since my first drink I suspected that anything that felt as good as the buzz created by drinking would be problematic, and I was absolutely correct. At fourteen years of age I was unable to comprehend exactly how much trouble the next twenty-five years of drinking would bring, but I instinctively knew that no good was going to come of it. I did not want to stop drinking. So entwined with my being was alcoholic thinking that I believed that alcohol superseded everything else.
It was incomprehensible that I would even be able to live without it.
I protected my drinking with every ounce of energy I had. This enslavement materialized link by link, chain by chain and bar by bar. I was thirty nine years old when I realized that I had created my own personal prison and lived inside a cell constructed with empty bottles, broken promises and worst of all, abandonment of my true self.
It was then, after more wasted years than I care to recall that I allowed myself the luxury of admitting that I was an alcoholic and needed to get help. I truly was a prisoner of my own making; a slave to the effects of chemicals willfully introduced into my system in a failed attempt to find peace. But I did not completely give in. Instead, I began to understand that a person consists of many different parts, all of them waging an internal struggle for dominance. Among my many parts was part firefighter, part husband and dad, part rebel, part boring old man and part alcoholic. I needed to treat the part of me that was alcoholic, and keep him subdued. Knowing that the rest of me was just like everybody else was liberating, and allowed me the luxury of seriously contemplating my alcoholic part, and to begin formulating a plan to create harmony among my parts.
Alcoholics need not define themselves as such to stop their alcoholic behaviors. We need to address the part of us that causes so much grief. We do not need to kill that part of us; he did, after all serve a purpose at one time in our lives, and has every right to remain. He does not, however have the right to dominate the whole, and it is imperative that he remain safely tucked away.
Once we tame that beast, and believe me, he is rather difficult to tame, the rest of our parts begin to shine through, and before long harmony in our complex system returns and we can start living again.
To get control over my alcoholism I needed to fight the beast with everything I had. The “parts” strategy was one of many, but I truly believe was the one that finally got through my thick skull and allowed me the chance to beat it. Or, at least beat the most stubborn part of me.
Captain Michael Morse, retired, Providence Fire Department
When somebody finds the courage, or runs of out of options, and goes to “rehab” they have begun the process of recovery. Their future rests squarely on their shoulders. Their future can also be made a lot less difficult by the behavior of the people in their lives, or more so. The person returning from what those of us who have been through it call treatment has learned how to navigate the difficult social situations that had a lot to do with their abuse of drugs and alcohol. People are different; some thrive in the social setting while others prefer to be left alone.
So, what do we do when our colleague returns from “vacation.”
Welcoming a colleague back from whatever brink led them to seek treatment need not be complex. The person who returns to the group is probably feeling more than a little anxiety. There is very little others can do to alleviate that other than simply to accept that person back.
Ignoring them is probably the worst thing you can do, closely followed by interrogating them.
What I have found effective is simple curiosity. Being curious about a person – the whole person, not the alcoholic or addict part of the person does wonders for somebody who is struggling to regain their confidence. Just knowing that somebody cares enough to acknowledge their presence gives a person new in recovery something other than the problem of addiction to think about. Being welcomed back into the group, whether or not they were even expelled from it does wonders as well.
A person in recovery has a lot running through their mind. The skills they learn in treatment need to be meticulously maintained or run the risk of becoming noise lost in the maze of thinking needed to survive like everybody else. The difficulty many who lost their way while in the grip of drugs and or alcohol have navigating in a complex world do not magically disappear once treatment is over, rather things become more difficult. Losing an effective coping mechanism takes some getting used to, and the best way to get used to it is by acceptance from the people we spend our time with.
Like it or not, when things have become so out of control we need to go away for a spell, people notice. As good as we are at keeping our secrets, some are better at uncovering them. People talk, and what better to talk about than somebody who has temporarily lost their way? Acknowledging that there was a problem, accepting that the problem is being treated and moving on is one of the greatest gifts you can give to a recovering alcoholic and/or addict. The alcoholic/addict has plenty of guilt, shame and remorse rummaging around their head, no need to pile onto that heap with new fears and accusation. Pretending that things are exactly as they were prior to treatment is disingenuous, and the person recovering has learned that rigorous honesty is essential to healing, and maintaining sobriety. They may or may not want to talk about their experience, but giving them that option alleviates a tremendous amount of stress for everybody involved.
It is difficult for people who do not struggle with addiction to understand that the person struggling did not create their problem with intent. Nearly every one of us takes a drink at some point in our lives, and a lot of us experiment with drugs. Nobody – not you – me – or the person unreachable knew that they would be the one that would be unable to do so safely. Judging a person, and believing that you are somehow superior to them because you can drink safely, or leave the drugs alone after trying and deciding to leave them is useless. The person addicted has already judged themselves, and more likely than not has done so harshly.
Working together to keep a person on track is essential.
The best part about that is the only one doing the truly hard work is the addicted person. Everybody else simply has to be understanding.
When it comes to building strong relationships in recovery, there is almost nothing that is more important, especially as you transition out of treatment and into independent living in sobriety. Having positive people around you who understand what you have been through and support you as you work toward increased stability while staying sober can, at times, be the only thing standing between you and relapse. But when you’ve spent months or years living in the haze of addiction, building strong relationships isn’t always intuitive.
Trying to fix people: It’s normal for people in recovery to talk about the difficulties they are facing in life, and while it may be appropriate to offer a suggestion for how to fix it if they ask directly or if you are in a support group, they may be more interested in a listening ear in a personal setting. Constantly telling someone how to live their life can ultimately make them feel worse and then cause them to avoid you when they don’t follow through on your suggestions.
Judging people: Yes, you need to be discerning when it comes to building new relationships in recovery but judging people based on appearance or on a random comment they made in a meeting isn’t an effective way of choosing whom you will and will not be close to in recovery.
Holding a grudge: Maybe someone you were spending time with committed one of the above transgressions or did something else that put you off. It may be a healthy choice for you to give yourself some space, but holding onto anger is only going to get in the way of your recovery, stop you from rebuilding a friendship with someone who may have made an honest mistake, and otherwise impede your ability to stay focused on the positive things that will build you up in sobriety.
Being melodramatic: Everybody goes through ups and downs and it’s good to talk about what you are going through with the people you are closest to. In fact, in sobriety, it’s an imperative that you share your challenges – that’s what a support network is for. But sharing is one thing and being over the top with melodrama is another. If you are always the person who is in the midst of a crisis, it’s going to drive people away.
Lying: This is a big one in every part of your recovery. Just like it is important to be honest with yourself and with your therapist about what you are feeling and experiencing in recovery, it is also important to be honest in the little things with new friends. Overstating your experience to appear to have overcome more than anyone else, saying you did things you didn’t, or otherwise being dishonest is going to make it more difficult for others to trust anything you say.
Spreading rumors: There are always stories circling in the recovery community – who relapsed, who’s sleeping with whom, who’s at risk for relapse, who’s lying about this or that – but if you take part in it, you could inadvertently harm someone whether or not the story is true. It’s better to stay out of it and mind your own business rather than getting involved in what others are doing.
Using people: In addiction, taking whatever you could get from anyone who was offering (or in many cases, not offering) may have been the status quo, but in recovery, it is important to maintain a steady give and take. Yes, you can and should ask other people for help when you are struggling, but you should be just as quick to offer your help to others and be there for people when they are in need as well.
Keeping score: Though it is important to make sure there is a flow of give and take in a relationship, it is also important to avoid keeping score. Getting irritated because you feel like you have shown up for someone more frequently than they have shown up for you can be burdensome on your ability to focus on recovery and on the relationship. Instead, take a more laidback approach. If you feel like you are in a relationship with someone who simply isn’t giving back the way you need them to, discuss the issue. If things don’t change, it may be time to give yourself some space.
Being overbearing: Finally, you have found someone who is amazing, who makes you laugh, who really gets you and what you’re about, doesn’t judge you in any way, and just makes you feel good. That’s awesome, but it is important to maintain personal space in any relationship. That means don’t try to spend every single day together; don’t be jealous when they spend time with other people and don’t include you; and don’t spy on them or otherwise try to insinuate yourself into someone’s life by any means necessary.
Second guessing other people’s goals: Even if you do not necessarily think someone’s goals are interesting or what you would do in their situation, it is important to be supportive of their choices. Even if they are in recovery with you and they decide to relapse, you cannot undo that choice. While you can always let them know that a return to recovery is an option, judging them will not help them to turn things around, and it won’t help you to be stronger on your own path either.