Posts Tagged ‘restless’

monkeyI met with a friend of mine yesterday for coffee, we were ‘litter mates’ four years ago and our friendship has continued. During the last four years he has stayed sober the whole time, while I on the other hand drank after one year of sobriety and had to start over.

We were talking about how insidious our disease is and how easy the the ‘monkey’ can climb back on without our realizing it. He mentioned a woman in his home group who just celebrated one year clean and sober and she was sharing her story. Prior to her new anniversary, she’d been sober for 2 1/2 years but relapsed. She wasn’t feeling particularly anxious or down and wasn’t thinking about using when she found herself in her bathroom rinsing her mouth out with Listerine mouthwash (for those of you who don’t know, there is a lot of alcohol in mouthwash). Suddenly out of nowhere she decided that instead of spitting out the mouthwash, she’d swallow it – of course, she went on to polish off the whole bottle.

Two and a half years of sobriety gone, in a split second. She went on to say that she couldn’t explain why she did it and that she hadn’t realized she was in trouble.

Unfortunately this story is far from unusual, but there are some tell-tale signs to watch out for:

  • Lack of interest in your recovery program; making excuses to miss the meeting or skip an appointment with your sponsor.
  • Daydreaming of how it used to be when we could drink or use (it’s normal to think about this once in a while, but not constantly).
  • Stop working on the steps, – keep working the step you are on, whether you are on the 4th step or the 12 step. Our recovery needs daily maintenance.
  • Feeling over confident – 6 months or a year of sobriety is definitely something to be proud of but it’s extremely important that we do not rest on our laurels, which basically means: thinking that we know all there is to know about staying clean and sober and no further effort is needed. This is a very dangerous place to be, many people relapse after periods of sobriety because they’ve stopped taking their disease seriously and stopped working on their recovery.

Our disease is always working to get us back out there, so we need to continually work to not let it! Think of it this way, when we are actively working on our recovery our disease is hibernating but as soon as we slack off – such as avoid going to meetings for a few weeks or stop watching out for people, places and things that are triggers – our disease starts stirring and keep neglecting your recovery enough and it WILL wake up and when it does, it’s going to be really, really hungry.

Being in recovery is about getting a daily reprieve from our addiction. We need to be on top of it especially during the holidays – which are fast approaching. We need to actively have a program of recovery in place, going to recovery meetings, working the steps, getting a sponsor, meeting with other alcoholics and addicts and being of service. Having other people around you that can recognize if you are becoming restless, irritable and discontent can save your life.

Its true that as we get more time sober, our lives fill up, we have new friends, new jobs, we spend more time with our loved ones, but just be aware that the idea that we are ‘all better’ after we get a decent amount of clean and sober time is a LIE that our disease tells us. Our disease wants us dead, but it will settle for us being drunk or high.



 devil-angel2Alcoholism and drug addiction are called cunning, baffling and powerful diseases mainly because they often trick our minds and get us to turn on  ourselves and sabotage our sobriety. The worst part is, it’s often very subtle and  we don’t notice these changes in our behavior or our thinking until it’s too late.  And by too late, I mean we’re already off to the races, we are no longer in  control and our disease is in the driver’s seat.                                 

Here are some of the signs that you might want to watch out for:                                                                                                                                                                           

  • You stop going to recovery meetings.  In early sobriety (at least the first year) it’s a good idea to do 90meetings in 90 days for the first three months and after that, at least 3-4 meetings a week. If you begin to think that you don’t need as many meetings – it’s your disease talking.
  • You start hanging out in bars with your old drinking buddies. If your friends want to meet you in a bar, tell them you’d rather meet in a coffee shop. If they are truly friends, then they will meet you there. If you decide it’s a good idea to meet them in a bar on a Friday night and drink soda while they pound drink after drink, then it’s your disease talking. (For more on this see People, Places and Things).
  • You start thinking that surely non-alcoholic beer or wine can’t hurt? Just think about this for a minute! I’ve often heard of alcoholics going this route before and what usually happens is once the alcohol hits their system, the body immediately craves more and they can’t stop. In fact, they’ll generally consume a 12 pack of near beer in a very short period of time before eventually moving onto the real stuff. There’s trace amounts of alcohol in these beverages, if you think that putting any amount of alcohol in your system is a good idea then it’s your disease talking.
  • You stop working the Twelve-Steps. Maybe you were working a Twelve-Step program of recovery but somehow decided that you don’t have to finish the Steps because it’s too much hard work. In my experience, when I thought I could do it alone and I stopped working on my Fourth Step, I started off feeling relieved that I didn’t have to do that shit anymore. The relief didn’t last long though because I increasingly became restless, irritable and discontent and then somehow I found myself at the liquor store. Do yourself a favor; see it through to the end, some things are worth the hard work and finishing the Steps was key to my long term sobriety and to many people I know.
  • You look for the differences in other alcoholics and addicts, not the similarities. When we think we are different from the addict who was on the streets, the alcoholic housewife who only drank at home or the teenager who hit bottom early in life, then our disease is talking. The circumstances of our decline into alcoholism and addiction may be different from others but the disease isn’t. Our disease will tell us we are different because it wants to keep us away from our peers.
  • You decide you can handle a new relationship as well as getting sober. Your disease wants to get laid so when the new relationship goes south (as they very often do in early sobriety) you’ll get drunk or high. More on dating in early recovery here

Obviously these are just some of the ways we can get off track, if you want to add any, please feel free to make a comment.

miserable_cat My thoughts are on a constant merry-go-round at the moment, over and over, just like a hamster  spinning in it’s wheel. I’m worrying about the future, I’m over thinking the past, I feel restless and  irritable. I haven’t been to a meeting in over a week, I haven’t talked very much with another  alcoholic, Instead, I’ve been inside my own head, full of self-pity and alone with my disease.

 My Sponsor once told me that no matter how new I was to sobriety, even a couple of days or a week – no matter how bad I felt, chances are there was someone in the rooms of recovery who was worse off than me. (At first I didn’t want to hear it because as far as I was concerned no one had it like I did.) Thankfully that idea was squashed when I followed the suggestion of my Sponsor and went up to a person at a meeting I attended who had just got their 24 hour chip. I only had a week sober, but it was six days more than this person had and I was able to talk to them about what I’d been doing in the last few days. I even offered to meet them the next day at the meeting so we could sit together. The woman smiled briefly and said ok, then she went on to say how nervous she was because she didn’t know anyone, I told her that I felt the same way too and we could be nervous together. I gave her my number and took hers too and the next day I called my new friend to make sure she’d be there.

I walked away feeling like I may of actually made a little difference in that persons day and for a few minutes I had completely forgotten about myself (which turns out to be a really good thing). This stuff actually worked and I found out that a sure fire way of getting off the pity pot is to be of service to another recovering alcoholic or addict. No matter how small that service might be, it can make all the difference to someone who is just as scared and lonely as we are.

The only trouble with all this is, I have a short memory and when I’m knee deep in my own shit, it’s really hard to want to step in someone else’s. Even though, time and time again, this is something that’s been suggested to me, it’s still a stumbling block until I actually get up and do something about it. The good news is that when I do get off my ass – the blue mood is miraculously lifted, even if it’s for a brief moment.

Yep, I think it’s about time to get off my ass and go to a meeting.