And when i say ‘Relapse’, i don’t mean mine but Philip Seymour Hoffman’s. He forgot that we cannot drink from the same river twice.
TMZ reported that Philip Seymour Hoffman’s swan dive into addiction started with a slip: a sip of alcohol. He had been clean for 23 years, and then had a drink at a wrap party and the rest, unfortunately, is history.
i have met people in AA who had decades of sobriety and watched it all slip away when they forgot they couldn’t even have one drink. Their horror stories of what it was like when they “went out” are one of the things that helps keep me sober.
Before i got sober, i wallowed in my alcoholism, wore it like a puke stain, felt proud about how i could binge with regularity and still balance home and work (here’s the secret: i couldn’t).
Five years ago, i was so cavalier about my drinking i started the other website (Diarrhea of a Chronicle Drinker), elected myself Functional Alcoholic Slurperson, established D.R.I.N.K.E.R. (Drunks Really Involved Now Known as Exiles Reunited), and founded the Bar None.
In recovery, one of the first best truths i learned was when a fellow AAer said, “I can never be cavalier about my drinking again.” i knew exactly what she meant as soon as she said it. i can choose to lose my sobriety whenever i want, but i cannot go back to the place i was before. i know too much, now.
Picking up the drink again would mean drinking with a vengeance and in a few weeks or months, i would be at the same place it took me thirty years to arrive at the first time. But the destination would be the same, except my life might not be saved.
Understanding that, and knowing the other option is happiness in recovery, make it easier for me to choose ‘sobriety’ each time.
Remember not to forget.
You know me, there’s a lot of stuff i don’t know. Like i always thought Robin Williams was a cokehead but i did not know he was also an alcoholic. i also didn’t know he went into recovery for both in 1983, when his first child was born. And who knew he stayed sober for 20 years? Not i, said the blind man.
i also didn’t know he serves as a cautionary tale, because even after 20 years sober, he relapsed in 2003 while making a movie (Big White) in Alaska.
I was in a small town where it’s not the edge of the world, but you can see it from there, and then I thought: drinking. I just thought, hey, maybe drinking will help. Because I felt alone and afraid. It’s just literally being afraid. And you think, oh, this will ease the fear. And it doesn’t.
One day I walked into a store and saw a little bottle of Jack Daniel’s. And then that voice—I call it the ‘lower power’—goes, ‘Hey. Just a taste. Just one.’ I drank it, and there was that brief moment of ‘Oh, I’m okay!’ But it escalated so quickly. Within a week I was buying so many bottles I sounded like a wind chime walking down the street. I knew it was really bad one Thanksgiving when I was so drunk they had to take me upstairs.
It’s [addiction] — not caused by anything, it’s just there. It waits. It lays in wait for the time when you think, ‘It’s fine now, I’m OK.’ Then, the next thing you know, it’s not OK. Then you realize, ‘Where am I? I didn’t realize I was in Cleveland.’
On Staying Out of Recovery
After his relapse, Williams remained active in his alcoholism for 3 years.
You feel warm and kind of wonderful. And then the next thing you know, it’s a problem, and you’re isolated.
It’s the same voice thought that … you’re standing at a precipice and you look down, there’s a voice and it’s a little quiet voice that goes, ‘Jump.’ The same voice that goes, ‘Just one.’ … And the idea of just one for someone who has no tolerance for it, that’s not the possibility.
For that first week you lie to yourself, and tell yourself you can stop, and then your body kicks back and says, no, stop later. And then it took about three years, and finally you do stop.
On Fixing Yourself
You can’t. That’s the bottom line. You really think you can, then you realize, ‘I need help,’ and that’s the word.
On His Weekly AA Meetings
Have to. It’s good to go.
Sources for the quotes:
Indie genius Hip Hip poet Macklemore is addicted to codeine based cough syrup. In 2008, his breakout hit “Otherside” put him on the rap map as he bantered about overcoming his addiction to “easter pink” or “purple rain”.
In October 2012, he released the truly inspiring album The Heist with Ryan Lewis. On it, the song “Starting Over” tells the very personal story of his relapse. In an intimate and eloquent song, he describes the pain of letting down both loved ones and fans he helped in sobriety, and he explains the reasons for his relapse.
Like so many others, I just never thought I would
I never thought I would
Didn’t pick up The Book
Doin’ it by myself
Didn’t turn out that good
i’ve been sober for over 23 months and 4 days as of today. i’m extremely fortunate that i have been able to stay sober so long on my first try.
That i have not relapsed has nothing to do with personal strength or wanting it more or trying harder. If i’ve avoided a relapse it’s because i recognize that i’m weak and will never be able to control my drinking, so i let my Higher Power and others do it for me.
My continued sobriety is also thanks to those in the rooms and here online that have relapsed. In each of their stories i see my own and, as i know i’m no better than they are, their relapses serve to remind me how vulnerable i am. Each harrowing tale, disappearing face and name that evaporates on my blog roll frightens me and forces me to rise up from my laurels and fight like my life depends on it.
Because it does.
For those of you who have relapsed, know that your experiences are not wasted but serve to aid others who suffer. And remember, it is never too late to stop for the last time.