Relapse happens long before the first drink and it is about attitudes. The first time we don’t do something we say we will do, we are on the way to a relapse. The first bad attitude that we let fester, we are on the way to relapse. It can take months to actually pick up the first drink or drug, but we are losing whatever control we may have had over our sobriety.
I use the word vigilance often when I write because I think it best describes the attitude we must have in our daily life. Alcoholics Anonymous calls our disease “cunning, baffling and powerful” and they are so right. Our disease doesn’t come through the front door. It is much like smoke in that it can come through tiny cracks in our walls or in the case of the alcoholic it can come through cracks in our armor. How many times do we rant at the other driver who we think is doing something stupid? We can’t afford to raise our middle finger-cracks in the armor. Bad attitudes are a luxury that the alcoholic or addict cannot afford.
We are humans first and we get irritated just like everyone else. This is where vigilance comes in. It is also where all of the steps of Alcoholics Anonymous can help us. We remember that we are powerless over alcohol (Step One), we look to our Higher Power to help us when irritations arise (Step Three), made immediate amends (Step Nine) ect. If we do these things continually then it might not be necessary to relapse at all. I am not suggesting that one bad attitude will take us back out; it is letting the attitudes build without keeping them in check. VIGILANCE!