What my lapses and relapses have taught me.

This is a post for myself to refer back to if I EVER feel like drinking again. If this helps anyone else that is awesome too.

I had 5 years sobriety in my 20’s but was white knuckling it alone. In my thirties 2 and half years, then another year and half. Then a couple of months at a time (3 to 6 months stretches). I know it seems like I was going backwards in my journey but everytime I went back to drinking I learned something new.

A lapse is one night of drinking followed by getting back on the horse the next day. A relapse is sustained drinking until of course you stop again (if you manage to stop again I should say)

Here is what I learned from all of my lapses/relapses throughout the last couple of years.

  1. It get’s harder and harder to get back on that horse. The longer you relapse for the more shit goes down you are ashamed of and the more you want to drink it away.
  2. Once you’ve realised that you are addicted to alcohol going back to drinking is like going back into a burning house. You know the house is on fire so the cognitive dissonance of the addiction is there all the time.
  3. Alcohol doesn’t silence the inner critic. If you are addicted, the booze stops working the way it ‘used’ to. Even when you are drunk you are still aware of the inner critic voice. And the next morning the voice is screaming not talking.
  4. Alcohol doesnt soothe depression it exasperates it. Alcohol is a depressant. If it did soothe depression why are alcoholics so sad and lonely?
  5. Alcohol does not cure or help loneliness, the addiction isolates you. You can’t hang out with normal people and you can’t truly connect with anyone if you are drunk because you are not present.
  6. Alcohol doesn’t help anxiety. Alcohol changes levels of serotonin and other neurotransmitters in the brain, which can and does worsen anxiety.
  7. Your brain is permanently changed once you have repeated the addictive behaviour enough times you can never go back to normal drinking. This is not a ‘habit’ it is drug addiction and it’s progressive.
  8. Drinking does not relieve boredom. If you are bored with your life it’s because you’ve been drinking for most of it and there is nothing more boring that getting or being drunk all the time.
  9. Alcohol does not soothe nor help after a trauma. It makes the trauma ten times worse. All it does is press the pause button on what happened and the next day in the cold light of morning you are faced with two devastations, the original trauma which was bad enough and then the fact that you drank.
  10. It makes you sick. You body’s immune system is at an all time low and if you keep going back it’s just going to get sicker and sicker.
  11. Level of alcohol consumption will increase at an alarming rate if you keep doing what you are doing.
  12. The first three weeks are the hardest BUT I’ve also learned that your body needs at least 1 to 2 years of sustained sobriety to fully recover from the damage alcohol did.
  13. Depression is very common in early sobriety because your brain needs to heal and recalibrate. You’ve been messing with the brain’s pleasure centre in the most dangerous way so your brain needs TIME to recover.
  14. This addiction kills people but before it kills you it will take away your dignity and it can do irreparable damage to the people you love the most.
  15. You can’t do it alone and in secret.If you keep that back door open you will use it! You need to be accountable to your nearest and dearest and you need community. This time I have community(ya’ll) and I cannot begin to say how much it’s helping me to know that I’m not alone in this.

55 thoughts on “What my lapses and relapses have taught me.

  1. Points 2 and 3 really really stood out for me. It seems once I accepted I had a problem the inner voice was constant, before drinking, during drinking, after drinking was the worse. The depression drinking brought on was horrendous although I never realised it was from drinking. Good post x

    Liked by 4 people

  2. Hurrah for YOU let alone coffee. This was a fabulous post and made me teary but only in a way that fully understands what you mean. I was impressed by your past sober times but then thinking back, I have had times like this myself although back then it was not such hard work and conscious. I might just print this out and keep it in my paper diary to refer back to.
    Thanks for taking the time to put together such a brilliant post, even if it was for you it has resonated fully with me.

    Liked by 3 people

    • Glad you got something out of it. I’m finding this blogging thing enormously helpful. Hopefully when ‘Jack’ (my alcohol voice) comes knocking again I’ll have the presence of mind to reread this. Maybe I should print it out and frame it!:)

      Liked by 2 people

  3. Thank you– this is enormously helpful. I wrote this down in my journal. I had proof of #6 last month when I had one lapse after over 6 mons of sobriety. Never again, and this list will help me

    Liked by 2 people

  4. Great post! I also agree accountability and community is essential. This is the first time I have actually reached out for help via a program. I believe it will be the missing link for me. We shall see.

    Liked by 3 people

  5. Very powerful and to the point. I wish I’d read this early on, even though it seems I had to learn through experience (like decades of it). Actually, I think that means I did not learn through experience. Thank God for the miracle of healing. When I think of what I put my body through all those years, it’s a miracle it’s still hanging in there.
    Thanks for putting this so bluntly (and perfectly).

    Liked by 2 people

  6. Great post and SO true!
    Wonderful reminder for me, too!
    I found that I really started feeling better after 2 years in terms of my immune system.
    That was interesting to me.

    I say, Hurrah to you!
    I’m with you and I raise my coffee cup to yours!!

    Liked by 1 person

  7. I love this. It helps me to know that even after long periods of sobriety it is possible to fall off the wagon. We are never ever ‘cured’. I have only made 5 months my longest and once I went back to drinking my consumption increased. The brain never forgets. I used to think it helped my anxiety but I think it made it worse. I have early fatty liver and know it will take a lot of time to get my body functioning at optimal level again. This has to be for life. Thank you 😘

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Thanks for this, I can relate to a lot of this, especially number 7. I felt bored while drinking, I thought my life was boring. It was the nightly drinking that was boring, now I am free to do other things. I have ideas of things I’d like to do coming to me all the time. Trying new things, or old things I’d stopped doing. This is a fantastic post, thanks for sharing it with us. PDTG

    Liked by 1 person

    • I think women especially tend to use alcohol as self-medication for depression/anxiety and a myriad of other emotional issues. It’s good to just double check and find that the promise alcohol makes to relieve these afflictions is a total lie. x

      Liked by 1 person

      • So true!!! My alcohol intake grew after having my kids. It numbed my anxiety or so I thought and made my evenings or bath time that bit less boring and lonely until I realised that alcohol was making ME boring and all alone! What ever we thought of alcohol the complete opposite is true!

        Liked by 1 person

  9. I see myself in a lot of these things you have learned. #6 was the toughest for me because I really didn’t want to “give it up” just wanted some control. Too late for that…

    Liked by 1 person

    • I know Carrie Ann that’s one of the things that kept me going back to drinking the hope that THIS time I would be able to moderate. I might have managed to moderate for a week or so but then very quickly I was back on the same level and then the levels of consumptions just got worse. There is allot of freedom in that acceptance! I just feel like I’ve stopped fighting and struggling against the nature of the beast.

      Liked by 1 person

  10. This is so well timed for me. I was just saying to my mum who is staying that surely I can have a drink now and then? She said she isn’t sure.
    I know deep down I can’t, this post just lays out all the reasons why. Exactly.
    Well done and a big thank you!
    Michelle xx

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi there. Your gut knows when you have a problem. The ‘permanent change to the brain’ thing (research published in the book this Naked Mind) completely woke me up to the fact that I will never be able to moderate no matter how hard I tried. I had my own behaviour as evidence of that but it really helped finding the scientific backup to just draw a line under it. xxx


  11. printing this and putting it with my big book and 12 and 12. You put into words the things i have been feeling about my drinking but haven’t been able to articulate.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. What an outstanding post! So helpful for anyone reading who might be thinking about going back out. The evidence is overwhelming! But our minds will tell us, it will be OK this time or I am cured or things of that nature. What an outstanding resource this this for anyone in that place, that awful place.

    Liked by 2 people

  13. This is all so true. I have been a pretty heavy drinker for the last 6 or 7 years – mostly hard liquor and higher proof liquors. It got to the point where it impacted my job and a lot of close relationships. One day, I just quit my job cold turkey. I thought that would fix it all – nope. It was at that point that I finally accepted I had a problem and I went through a 98 day stretch without drinking. My life improved dramatically – financially, physically and emotionally. Then, last October, I started slipping. At first, it was just a day or two and then it was several days – it started impacting my new job. I’d go through a stretch of 10 or 11 days sober and then dive back into it. It got worse. I recognized I could undo all of what I accomplished in those 98 days of sobriety within a period of a few weeks but that didn’t stop me. I had a little gap at the end of November and beginning of December. Then, I went on a pretty awful binge all the way until a few days ago. I got a DUI on Christmas, which has crushed me and still continues to crush me. It destroyed a second job and more relationships. So, now I am all committed to being sober because at the rate I was going, who knows how much worse it would get. Thank you for this post.

    Liked by 1 person

  14. So I came to read this and was like, “Why is this familiar?” then realized I’d actually already read it before! LOL

    Definitely needed to reread it though. You speak nothing but the truth here. I want nothing to do with the shame and guilt that came every morning after ten too many drinks. Thank you for writing this! ❤️

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yes some (not all) of these points are covered in Alan car’s book as well as Annie Grace’s book. I added my take on those and also added my own lessons learned. I have personally experienced each and every point I talk about when I relapsed. Some points took a couple of lapses to really sink in. I guess its true what they say that some people really need to learn the hard way.
      Thank you for stopping by and for your input.

      Liked by 1 person

  15. Trying to find wisdom from others and “you hit the ball out of the park” with this post. I needed to read this at this time, as I’m just beginning my sober journey, again.

    Plus I love your comment to one of the bloggers above, “I’ve stopped fighting and struggling against the nature of the beast.”

    Thanks so much! Lia Leon

    Liked by 2 people

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