RELAPSE: ‘Tis the Season: After six months of sobriety, a relapse! Why?

 Relapse does not just happen. There are steps backwards.  Take enough of those steps backwards, and yes– then it just happens. In order to avoid relapsing, you have to catch the signs. Once you identify the people, places, things that trigger an urge to use, you can sidestep them.

Harry’s Story:

Harry had done a month in a Florida Rehab to get clean from drugs; his drug of choice was cocaine, when he could afford it. He settled for cheaper stuff when he could not afford it. He had a good run finding the money in his mother’s wallet, selling her jewelry; even finding the information to get into mom’s bank account. When he was caught, he should have gone to jail but mom didn’t have the heart to press charges. The police were going to press charges against him for bank related issues, but mom would not testify so he got off. He was allowed to go home!

This afternoon, Harry was hungry and angry. He had not noticed he was also lonely and tired.  Lonely, however, was no stranger, a mood dating back to when he was very young. He had always felt lonely.

They told him in Rehab. never to get too hungry, angry, lonely or tired (H.A.L.T.) Since his recovery, he avoided his drug-using friends and they avoided him. Lonely settled into his life again. Sleeping was still a problem.

Harry took his hunger to the kitchen. He wanted pizza. However, there wasn’t any in the freezer.

“What is the matter with my mother?  he asked no one in particular, “ Why is there never any food in this house?

Since his mother hadn’t stocked the freezer with pizza, he rooted through the refrigerator. He found milk, peanut butter, turkey, Italian bread, apples, American cheese and meat loaf from last night. Yuk. Nothing to eat, he complained, as he slammed the refrigerator door.

He went looking for his younger brother Pete; maybe he had something interesting stashed in his room. Pete sat on his bed reading a book. When Pete saw his older brother enter his room, he looked up and smiled. “Hi, Harry. Want to read this book to me.”

“No. I am looking for something to eat. Do you have anything?”

“Yes,” said Pete. “I have some chips. Do you want them?”

“Nah, I want pizza. I guess I will go down town and buy a slice.”

“Can I come?”

“No. I don’t want to have to watch out for you.”  Then Pete said, “See you Later.”

Slippery Slope-Hanging with Former Drug Friends!

Henry enters Joey’s Pizza Haven, a  hangout for his buddies. He sees some of his former drug using friends ;they were sitting at a table in the back, near the door. Pete noticed their choice of table; easy excess to the yard if anything with the law went down. After all, it was rumored that Joey sold drugs. His old friends ignored him. They know he is no longer one of them!

Harry is feeling lonely, so he figures having a slice with some old friends cannot jeopardize his sobriety. He takes his pizza and walks to their table. “Hey, you guys. Are you still talking to me? Can I sit down?”

They look at one another hesitantly, and then decide to welcome him. They are talking about meeting up later, in the Valley Cemetery, at the end of Harry’s block. Harry was high for the first time in that cemetery.

Someone admits he bought a fresh supply of H. Harry feels his blood pumping and gets excited. Like the old days, he thought. He hadn’t felt this alive in months.

Directed at Harry, “Hey man, you want to meet us tonight?”

Harry said that he would think about it. He finished his pizza and left.


At home, Harry felt restless. He had choices: swim in the pool, take his younger brother for a bike ride, work out at the gym, go for a run, or take a nap, go to a 12 Step Meeting and call his sponsor. No, he decided. I am going to meet my friends in the Valley Cemetery tonight. What could it hurt? l, he reasoned, have been clean for six months. I know the score. I am bored and lonely and I need to fix that.