Relapse is like a Tantrum


Why do we relapse? We spend all that time, energy, and money (not to mention the pain and emotional anguish) to get clean and then one dark night we talk ourselves into one last ride.

It’s frustrating the next day when you come down and realize you’ve just blown it sky high.  There are certainly some deep psychological issues in place for a person to self-sabotage and head back down a road of destruction and ruin.  But when you watch a two year old throw a tantrum because they can’t have the toy or candy they want, you can see a comparison with relapse. In a way, addiction is a kind of animal problem of the body.  The brain/body wants it, so you (the driver behind the wheel) jerk the wheel to go and get it. Instant gratification.  I”m feeling low so I reach for blow. I get what I want, shoot back up into happy playful mode, and all is well. But deny me what I want and suddenly I start to itch and twitch and freak out on you until I tear the house down in search of my lovie. Sure, this is a bit of an over-simplification and certainly not meant to demean the complex reasons for a drug relapse, but if you step back and view your “addicted self” as a child who needs guidance, suddenly a moral implication (and maybe a certain sense of mature responsibility) comes into play.  If your “inner addict” wants a fix and you tell them “No” then the instinctive animal response is to revert to full blown toddler tantrum mode until you just have to give in because look at the poor thing. You’re smiling and nodding because you’ve seen the puppy dog eyes you give yourself in the mirror and all the little sad stories you tell yourself about how hard things are in the hopes that your “responsible self” (the one staying sober in recovery) will crack and give in with an “Okay, sweetie, but just this once” like the mom in the grocery store. Don’t be that mom!  (Or dad, as the case may be.) It’s your responsibility to rise above the selfish desires for instant gratification that will rear up from your inner addict.  You must be the firm parent that says resolutely “Absolutely not.”  Don’t let the fits and the agonizing convince you that getting a fix is a good idea.  You’ll only live with regret tomorrow.  And what’s more, you’ll be raising a monster child that will rampage through your life and cost you far more down the line.

Raise yourself up right. Be firm in the face of relapse tantrums and stay the course.

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