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How 12 Step Programs Will Ruin Your High

How 12 Step Programs Will Ruin Your High

My relapse was ruined by my initial recovery! For anyone who has ever relapsed, or maybe even spent enough time in 12 Step fellowship meetings to hear some solution, you know well how much it sucks to be drinking or getting high and have the 12 Steps and principles of the program running laps in your brain and tugging on your heart strings while you try and catch a buzz.

During my relapse my high was never the same after spending some time in recovery, and I had to face the facts every time that I drank or used drugs that I had given up so much for something so toxic to my life. Here is a few ways I can attest to how 12 Step programs will ruin your high.

Making the Same Mistakes

In my personal experience, when I relapsed back into using drugs and drinking I immediately realized I was making the same mistakes I had made before first going to treatment and getting into a 12 Step program.  I started to notice the behavior that I knew would coexist with active addiction and it made me feel guilty each time I got high. Things like:

  • Stealing from friends and family
  • Lying to people
  • Missing work
  • Manipulating relationships
  • Drunk driving
  • Not paying my bills

This is just a short list of things that started to pop up in my daily life. Being in a 12 Step program, especially when you have worked 12 Steps, will ruin your high when you start to see yourself gradually burning bridges you worked to mend, or recreating the character defects you have come to understand as things that keep you from being the best human being you can be. When you are drinking and immediately notice the wrongs you’re doing, and now you know a way to make the amends or practice your principles but you ignore them,  it can ruin a high pretty quick.

Knowing Where You’re Going

One of the worst parts of relapsing after working a program of recovery and being part of a 12 Step program is when you KNOW deep down where it is all going to end up. If you truly are an addict or alcoholic and you have hit a bottom before, than it is safe to say you can easily hit another one, and it only gets worse. You might even remember some of the experiences that were shared with you about relapse, or just things in other people’s stories you heard that you said you would never do. Suddenly you find yourself in that position.

You may be drinking and drugging and think to yourself, ‘I know I’m going to wake up dope-sick and/or hung-over tomorrow and hate my life’ and you also know if you keep that up it will continue to hurt more and you will get sicker than ever. Next thing you know, you’re doing the things you said you would never do that you heard in a 12 Step meeting, and you cannot believe how bad it has gotten so quickly.

Missing the Fellowship

The fellowship of a 12 Step program is an incredible community of kindred spirits trying to pull them-selves up from life’s ground-zero and get back on track to contributing to the world. These people are the most compassionate and creative individuals I have personally ever met, and most of my greatest friendships were formed in the rooms of a 12 Step meeting. However when I started using and drinking and I walked away from the program, I also walked away from the fellowship.

Depression does not even begin to describe the feeling I had when I was sitting somewhere using or drinking and someone sober called me to see how I was doing. The friends I made there still cared about me when I left, and they took every opportunity to make sure I was alive and OK, but inside I was getting sicker and more desperate.

Working a program, having a sponsor, and growing and recovering with others makes the bond between addicts and alcoholics strong, fiercely powerful and more meaningful because we share a common problem, and we fight for our lives and our sanity together. We help each other learn, and we enlighten each other with our experiences and our shared spiritual process. When I started drinking and using and I could feel I had cut myself off from that. Missing out on the fellowship made me feel like I had abandoned one of the best connections I had, and no matter how much I drank or used drugs I only missed those people more and more.

Losing Spirituality

This was the first and deepest wound I suffered from my relapse. My spiritual connection to the divine energy and love that I will refer to as God was gone when I decided I was going to leave the 12 Step Program to drink and use drugs again. I stopped praying and meditating, I stopped keeping a conscious contact between my spiritual fitness and my behaviors and relationships, and I lost hope. The absence of the connection to God was profound and crushing.

In a 12 Step program I developed a relationship with God, and with my own inner self, and I was able to cultivate that relationship through 12 Steps, practicing my spiritual principles, helping others and not numbing myself to the world with drugs and alcohol. When I drank again, I felt as if everything I had worked for was ignored or under-rated. I no longer appreciated the blessings I had, and I began to abuse and neglect the things that I was being blessed with on a regular basis. Drinking and drugging made it easy to ignore my principles, to lose my friendships, and to make all those mistakes all over again.

Being spiritually bankrupt to the core is a serious buzz kill for me. When I tried to get high and all I could think about was how I had failed myself, my family, and my God I was ashamed of being high. I couldn’t sit back and let myself be numb, because now I was guilty and miserable. I would drink and use more to try and block that out too, but all I did was think more about how God wanted me to be happy and I was poisoning myself and running from my responsibility to my sobriety.

They say staying clean and sober is easier than getting clean and sober, I can agree that it is definitely tougher out there using and drinking the second time. But no matter how many times we have gone in and out of treatment or recovery in general, if we are using drugs or drinking we enjoy ourselves less and less after a relapse. If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, please call toll-free 1-800-777-9588 

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