Relapse is more than a weak moment and a step backwards – it’s an avalanche of events and emotions. One of the definitions of avalanche is ‘a sudden great or overwhelming rush or accumulation of something.’ Yeah, that pretty much sums it up what happens right before you ‘fall off the wagon’. Relapse is when you hit the ground.
It was New Year’s Eve – again. I had been clean a year from my first time coming down. As I look back now, I see the road being paved for failure.
I had been clean for only five months when I met Jack. My divorce with Mark had been official the month before and I was starting to get back on my feet. Remember, I didn’t go to rehab so I was trying to pick up the pieces and just get on with my life, but it is way harder than you think. I had finally gotten a ‘real’ job doing secretarial work (I had been working as a bartender over the past months but I wasn’t very good) and I was still living with my dad who had several roommates (none did meth and was my only support system). I didn’t feel accomplished in my sobriety; rather, I was just focused on trying to get someone of a normal life back. I really missed my life with Mark – I missed my house, my barn, the Harley Davidson, and I missed Mark. I missed everything about my life outside of our meth addiction. I really missed my great-paying job at the airport. I was still really broken and lost. I was smoking lots and lots of pot and drinking every day – mostly to handle the pain and loneliness of missing my past life, and the comradely and “friendship” I found with both drinking and smoking. And unfortunately, I was looking for love in all the wrong places and constantly short-changing myself with meaningless flings. I had no connection with God at this point – HOWEVER HE WAS WAITING FOR ME.
I was absolutely SMITTEN with Jack. We met in a bar late one night and my bell was rung! He was fun, charming, and extremely sexy!!! HOWEVER, the first red flag appeared when I introduced him to my dad one afternoon in the bar. The FIRST THING my dad said to him “I hear you are a tweaker.” I was shocked and horrified. Jack’s response was that he shouldn’t believe everything he hears. My dad grunted and turned away and at that point, I should have been alarmed. But it was after only after a couple of weeks that I had a sneaking suspicion that he DID KNOW my old friend meth. I was CRUSHED. I couldn’t believe it that I met someone I REALLY REALLY liked since Mark, and he was an addict too. I knew at that point that I needed to protect my sobriety and I actually called him from work one morning and told him that I couldn’t see him anymore. I knew what he was doing and I just couldn’t go through that again. I had just lost everything and I was struggling to get back on my feet. He said he understood and we hung up. I was TORN UP. I remember drinking A LOT over the next couple of days – because that is all that it lasted – a couple of days. I don’t remember who called first but it was evident that we really missed each other and we made plans to hook up at a bar in town. Seeing him again wiped away any determination to stay true to myself and I instantly sank myself into a relationship with him. He had me.
Then I realized that most of Jack’s friends were doing meth as well – I was now the odd one out. At first they all tried to keep it from me but knowing the signs, trying to sleep when everyone else is loud and awake, and then being the one sitting in the living room alone while EVERYONE else was crowed into a small bedroom passing the pipe (NOT FUN AT ALL), it was clear that meth was in my life again as long as I associated with these people. Yeah, if I had been committed to sobriety, strong in what I wanted, and with my future in mind, I would have ran for my life (that 50/50 hindsight). I was smitten with Jack and thought I was strong enough to resist the temptation of doing meth again with it being practically in my face.
So, that fateful New Year’s Eve, I was already on edge and restless. I felt like I had a bad itch that needed to be scratched. Jack was working in the bar and I had started drinking early with my friends, but alcohol wasn’t cutting it. I had done a little cocaine that night with some of my friends but it left me feeling more restless and it just is not the same high as meth. That night consisted of hours of drinking and trying to maintain that high with glasses of water, holding out until midnight and waiting for Jack to get off of work so we could keep partying.
It is really important to note that the thought NEVER crossed my mind that I WANTED to do meth that night; it was not planned, it was not the goal, and I wasn’t looking forward to it. It is REALLY IMPORTANT to understand that this is how a trigger works; the stage was set, my mind was already clouded over with cocaine and alcohol, and meth was already present around me. All that was left was to pull the trigger. All my reasons of staying sober were the last thing on my mind. I did not care at that time that I was about to break my own promise and fail on a years’ worth of hard work. I did not care about what I was going to think about myself the next morning, I didn’t care about what Jack thought about me (why would I, he was already doing it), I didn’t care that I had already lost everything once – I had nothing more to lose.
So, when I slid my arms around Jack’s neck and pressed my body against him and whispered that I wanted him to get some meth for us, the trigger was pulled. At first he protested – he didn’t want to be the reason why I was doing it again and I assured him that I wanted too, and I wouldn’t blame him (of course). It didn’t take much to convince him. I was dropped off at home while Jack and a friend ran the errand. I COULDN’T WAIT for him to get back. It was like waiting excitedly for a long –lost friend to come visit. There was no turning back and I hadn’t even done it yet.
And it was just as good as I knew it would be. As my body rose to incredible heights and I felt AMAZING, there was no time for regret just like there was no turning back.
For the next two years, I lived in my addiction with Jack. The amazing highs, the meth-fighting, the pieces of life falling away – all the tell-tail signs of meth addiction. Life was quickly unraveling while living in denial and seeking the next high.
That is MY relapse. It happened but it doesn’t define me. Do you see me as a failure that I relapsed? Well, I’m nine years sober – does that make me a failure? Meth is so hard to quit and it took falling off the wagon to realize what a hold meth has. An addict might think they can enjoy meth and have total control over the drug until you try to quit – then you realize that its claws are deep into your skin and it doesn’t want to let go. The devil wants you to be weak and useless. It’s up to you, with God’s strength to continue to live that way.
Dear addict, if you are thinking of coming down and worried about relapse, here is my outline to prevent relapse:
- Know that you are not facing your addiction alone. God is your ever present Help. “Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give it to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.” John 14:37
- You need a support system – a family member or close friend who will walk this path with you. Someone that you will be accountable for a while until you are strong enough to be responsible for yourself again. Maybe you will decide to choose rehab, but just remember, you will eventually have to face real life again and a support system outside of rehab will be important.
- What is your real reason for leaving meth? Is it for someone else? Is it your decision? WHY ARE YOU QUITTING METH? What is your bottom line reason?? You need to know what that is or your chances of relapse are increased. I’ll talk about this more later. “And let us not grow weary while doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart.” Galatians 6:9
- Your chances of relapse GREATLY INCREASE if you have people in your circle that are still involved with meth. Does this mean to walk away from all your ‘friends’ that are still doing meth? Leave those relationships? Well, I ask, do you want to relapse? I’ll talk about this more later.
- Your chances of relapse will greatly increase if you seek ‘other highs.’ If you turn to alcohol or other recreational drugs like cocaine, your defenses will be down and there will be a greater chance that you will be tempted to seek that greater high that meth provides. The clearer you keep your mind, the more of a chance you WON’T relapse.
- Let’s face it; relapse is really common with meth. Meth is the devil. It’s a monster in your life. It is not going to let go of you as easy as you think you can let go of it. BUT I AM SITTING HERE NINE YEARS CLEAN to tell you that after relapse, you can pick yourself up out of the manure, take a shower (so to say), and climb back on the wagon. You are only a failure if you don’t try again. We’ll talk more about this later too. “We are hardpressed on every side yet not crushed; we are perplexed but not in despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down but not destroyed. II Corinthians 4:8,9
Read http://carleewalker.com/my-pivotal-moment/ to know my reason why I’ll never do meth again.