–verb (used without object)

1. to fall or slip back into a former state, practice, etc.: to relapse into silence.
2. to fall back into illness after convalescence or apparent recovery.
3. to fall back into vice, wrongdoing, or error; backslide: to relapse into heresy.

From the time I was almost 17 until the time I was almost 22, I relapsed many times in AA.  Literally I cannot count how many times.  I consider it a relapse when I stated and acted on the intention of staying sober, then did not.  Right now, I intend to not drink, one day at a time, for the rest of my life.  I drank alcoholically, then achieved abstinence, then drank again over and over again for those five years.  The longest period of continuous sobriety I achieved during that time was about 18 months.  I remember deciding to drink and drinking that time, but I don’t specifically remember any of the others.

The time I drank after 18 months I made a conscious decision.  My very bad relationship hit an extra low point, and I debated drinking or killing myself.  I decided to drink.  Now, today, I can see the fallacy of this decision, and how it was the coward’s way out.  I figured drinking left alive some glimmer of hope whereas suicide did not.

Now I understand that the glimmer of hope doomed me to drink again.  As long as just a tiny part of me hoped I could drink and not die, or drink and recover again, I was destined to try it, because that’s the way my mind worked.

I did move away from the program, but I don’t know if I did that because I was going to drink or if I was going to drink because I did that.  It doesn’t matter to me now.  I wasn’t desperate enough to try and try again every aspect of the program, all the suggestions and to make it a life long quest.  Every other way I tried to moderate my drinking or to abstain didn’t work.

People mention often at meetings how staying sober is really easier than staying drunk.  I’ve moved beyond where picking up a drink would mean picking up lying, cheating, stealing, endangering others, and other assorted chaos.  I can only imagine that for me, drinking now would be a terrible catastrophe.

Being sober and working the program has gotten both easier and harder for me over time, but it didn’t really begin until I accepted that I really didn’t have a choice.  As long as I held out hope that I could drink successfully, I hadn’t “hit bottom” and I wasn’t walking down the path of sobriety.

As per the definition of  “relapse,” my former state was one of illness, vice, wrongdoing and error.  How amazing the remedy has turned out to be!

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