12 Steps Back to the Bottle

My previous sponsor sent me something I felt compelled to share. I’m certain most of you in recovery have heard of HALT (Hungry, Angry, Lonely, Tired). Each can truly be a trigger for relapse. The following, however, really puts things into perspective.

  1. Exhaustion. Allowing yourself to become overly tired or in poor health. Some alcoholics are also prone to work addictions, perhaps in a hurry to make up for lost time. Good health and enough rest are important. If you feel well, you are more apt to think well. Feel poorly and your thinking is likely to deteriorate. Feel bad enough and you might begin thinking a drink couldn’t make it any worse.
  2. Dishonesty. This begins with a pattern of unnecessary little lies and deceits with co-workers, friends and family. Then come important lies you tell yourself. This is called rationalizing. Making excuses for not doing what you do not want to do, or doing what you should not do.
  3. Impatience. Things are not happening fast enough. Others are not doing what they should do or what you want them to do.
  4. Ā Argumentativeness. Arguing small and ridiculous points of view indicates a need to always be right. “Why don’t you be reasonable and agree with me?” Looking for an excuse to drink?
  5. Depression. Unreasonable and unaccountable despair (hopeless, helpless) may occur in cycles, and should be dealt with or talked about. The best way to deal with depression is to take some form of action.
  6. Frustration. Toward life, at people, and also because things may not be going your way. Remember, everything is not going to be just the way you want it.
  7. Self-Pity. Feeling sorry for yourself. Why do these things happen to me? Why must I be an alcoholic? Chemically dependent? Nobody appreciates all the things I’m doing for them.
  8. Cockiness. Got it made. No longer fearing alcoholism or chemical dependency. Going into drinking situations to prove to others you have no problem. Do this often enough and it will wear down your defenses.
  9. Complacency. “Drinking was the furthest thing from my mind.” Not drinking was no longer a conscious thought either. It’s dangerous to let up just because everything is going well. To always have a little fear is a good thing. More relapses occur when things are going well than otherwise.
  10. Expecting Too Much From Others. “I’ve changed, why hasn’t everyone else?” It’s a plus if they do, but it is still your problem if they don’t. They do not trust you yet, and may still be looking for further proof. You cannot expect others to change their lifestyle just because you have.
  11. Letting Up on Disciplines. Prayer, meditation, daily inventory, attendance at meetings. This can stem either from complacency or boredom. You cannot afford to be bored with your program. The cost of relapse is always too great.
  12. It Can’t Happen to Me. This is dangerous thinking. Almost anything can happen to you if you get careless. Remember, you have a progressive terminal disease, and you will be in worse shape if you relapse.
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