George’s story – “I will not relapse.”
Addiction recovery was tough! George had been fighting his alcohol addiction for a couple of years and it was a struggle. He knew he had a problem and had been going to AA once or twice a week since a stint in addiction rehab. However, staying away from alcohol was hard, especially as his contracting business started to pick up again. There were crazy days as he rushed between job sites, trying to keep all of the balls in the air. By quitting time, he wanted a drink so badly that his head was filled with thoughts about how he “needed a drink and deserved one.”
More than once in the past two years he had given in to the temptation — and it had not been pretty. Last week, after he drove home drunk, scratched up his new truck, and yelled at the kids, his wife shouted “enough.” “I’ve put up with your drinking and bad behavior for the last time. Come home like this again and I am out of here for good.”
George had been trying to figure out his addiction recovery on his own, and it obviously wasn’t going well. His AA meetings had provided fellowship and support, but something was missing. In George’s case there were a number of “drivers” that kept fueling his addiction, and a big one was stress. George had no problem identifying the pressures of daily life that kept his alcohol addiction bubbling just under the surface. What could he do about it? After all, he had to work and “stress came with the territory.”
The need for change.
However, George should not have resigned himself so quickly to the conclusion that life could not get better. He made the mistake that so many people make. George just embraced the status quo. He did not accept that with some knowledge, new skills, and planning, he could make life easier. Avoiding relapse did not have to be a “white knuckles ride.”
Stress is often a major trigger for people with drug and alcohol addiction. They need to establish a “toolbox” of techniques that help them keep it from turning their lives upside down. The starting place is to learn about stress, how it affects each person – mentally, physically and socially – identifying the personal sources that push an individual beyond their “stress threshold.” Once you have begun to understand how stress affects your life, you can identify the strategies that let you manage it. With some help, better days can be just around the corner.
George is doing much better and he has not suffered a relapse. He introduced a number of changes in his life that have made it easier to cope with stress. Some are simple techniques to better manage his busy life. Other parts of his “stress management” plan are fun ways that he “lets off steam.” What he learned is that managing his addiction recovery requires knowledge, new skills, and a plan to keep his old addictive thoughts and behavior buried deep enough that they can’t regain control of his life.
Learning to manage your stress is one of many topics that we address in our “Addiction Recovery in 7 Days” seminar at Dominion Hill.