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Why Relapse is not Part of this Recovery!

Relapse is part of recovery

Relapse is Part of Recovery because it helps us see where we are making fatal mistakes in life. The first post in this series of Two was about how I found the world of recovery and treatment. You can read it here.

I outlined how I was arrested and sentenced to the NYS Department of Corrections, shock program, outpatient, and the importance of peers.

I always felt that my recovery process was fake, so when I maxed out my on parole, I walked away from my recovery process too. Taking matters into my own hands was a mistake. Without a network of support to help and guide me through the sadness. I turned to my old confidant heroin.

When I came back to recovery, it was my choice. I didn’t need a  gun to my head. No shock therapy or any other mind-boggling treatment.


.. Just honest assessment and trust in my decision making.


My family didn’t know I was strung-out on heroin again.

Not being able, to be honest with myself, How could I be honest with them? No, I was not in recovery. For years I was in denial and avoidance. I was abstinent from drugs and alcohol, yes of course. But that is not all that is required for a life that’s more conducive to my happiness, well-being nor any, sort-of, success. I gave up on the idea of recovery and tried to manage without support, without tools, without a system.  That did not go very well, as I’m sure you can imagine.


When you work a system of recovery, you can keep ego, goals, and short-comings in check.


When I walked away from my system 4 years after I walked out of prison, I relapsed 5 years later. Structure and guidance, goals and ambitions were not part of my system.  An alcoholic or addict in remission or is a one without a sound system. They are vital,  in everything we do. They keep us motivated, focussed and repeating a productive process.


Relapse is an inherent part of recovery. Excuses and what-ifs are self-pity. Self-pity is part of a recipe for disastrous consequences.


[clickToTweet tweet=”Accountability, goals to strive toward and support are an integral part of my recovery. ” quote=”Accountability, goals to strive toward and support are an integral part of my recovery. “]


I’m not trying to confuse you; I’m not wise, nor holier than anyone. I’m not a saint, I found plenty of excuses and excursions to not focus on recovery.


For example, I hid behind my obsessive-compulsive Protestant work-ethic, Caffeine and nicotine addiction, strict veganism, and tons of sex. Hey, there’s even a program for that, too! I was still a junky just without the heroin and coke.

Why is it essential to make this decision of recovery?


Once I had decided to change my heart sobriety came naturally. I didn’t have to convince myself that what I was doing was best for me because I knew it.


When I was forced to stop doing heroin because of a stay in county jail and the giant leap to state prison it always pissed me off. I wasn’t angered as much about my freedom being taken away as I was about not being able to shoot heroin.

When I think back on this now, I know this statement is not true. I was the tattoo-man. I am good, especially with a single-needle, DIY, jailhouse tattoo machine. Shooting ink behind the wall made me famous and without need. If I wanted to get high on heroin during my bid, all I had to do was put the word out.

I chose not to get high once I knew I was heading to the Department of Corrections facility in Elmira, NY. I decided to stop using, and  I felt a new feeling. It was a relief to know that it was my choice. I didn’t have to think as if personal liberty was being taken from me because I chose to stop.

Relapse only causes me to repeat my insanity. I had to learn that I directly influence and control my own fate and destiny. I had to choose myself.

You’ve revealed in shallow friendships, numbed yourself in trivial distractions, and justified low-living for long enough. You’ve tried convincing yourself — to no avail — that you’re not the person you can’t seem to escape-Benjamin Hardy.


This quote sums me up. I was always running from to some other place with some fancy name only to find a south side ghetto, where I could buy massive amounts of heroin. I ran really hard, but I could never get away from myself.


The relapse had begun and it took about 8 years for the needle to find my vein. After about 3 months of doing heroin again, I found myself homeless, alone, hungry, and cold! Eventually, I wound up back in NYC begging, whoring and panhandling.


I got on a methadone program again to keep dope-sickness to a minimum. After 2 years I started to grow sick and tired of dope.  First I did it for all the wrong reasons. Methadone held me long enough to not need to fix.  I started to shoot dope less and less.


Methadone led to harm reduction and finally the desire to stop doing dope completely. I was tired. Sick of beating myself up.


I sat every day in the financial district panhandling. Gradually doing dope started to lose its hold. Methadone made it, so I didn’t need to use to chase heroin withdrawal away. Methadone gave me the chance I deserved. 

Recovery and Jim Rohn’s four emotions of change,


Jim Rohn spoke so often about finding their way inside of me. The emotions worked. Each emotion worked upon me and made me change.

The first was “disgust.” Yeah, it took me a while to get sick of sleeping on cardboard, feeling like a trash, and smelling worse than trash. I was disgusted.


Sick and tired of being sick and tired ~ AA quote


Slowly I started taking days off from coping dope. I start talking more and more to people that offered help each day. Days turned into weeks and then I would use because I wanted to or a friend would stop by my begging spot and give me some junk to test out.


One day I realized that I had not done dope in 8 weeks. Wait, that’s not true, I didn’t realize this, I was told by my counselor at my Methadone Maintenance Treatment Program (MMTP). I was thinking about days or kicking dope. I was just living one day at a time. My counselor at my MMTP told me I could get the weekends off now because I had 2 months of negative random urine screens.


I started to tell my friends that I quit doing heroin and cocaine.

Another emotion fired-off and caused me to stand at a crossroads. I made a “decision” to do better, to work a program, to change.


I believed this and the crusty punks and my street family accepted this as fact. They didn’t push me away. They didn’t force me or tempt me. Life just remained life. There had to be more.


Even though I chose sobriety I didn’t let it look at their journey and struggle differently. When I could help in any way possible, yes even money to get fixed when a friend was dope-sick, I was there.


Once the decision is made with your heart the body and mind will follow.


Slowly, I started pushing the negative friends aside. The ones who valued me and loved me for me I stayed close with and remain to this day. The ones who pushed and used were thrown to the curb like a used condom. You know who you are, so I won’t call you out here.


They say misery loves company. I still get calls and text messages from the darkest junky from this time in my life. He still tries to pull me into his negativity. When I let down my guard he would pull me in. Now he just  He makes my screen crawl and blood boil. I honestly believe he is pure evil and hate. Heroin can make me so blind.


Once I chose to push him away everything snapped into place. it was easy. I didn’t force it. I just stopped spending time with junkies in the ‘squat’ where I was sleeping. More importantly, I began to focus on how my those who spoke to me each morning

  • spent their day,
  • dressed,
  • spoke,
  • what they read, and
  • how they focused on goals and manifesting the life, they wanted.


Recovery is an impulse to strive hard for a better life.


The emotion “desire” snuck into my life.  Desire made me stock-up some wins and I wanted more. My hunger for a better life was greater than living as a homeless nomad. I started to care about how I looked and acted.


Then I did what I do best. I started to copy them. During the day I read productivity blogs and books. I chose people to mentor me without them knowing it. People always stopped to help with money and advice. In the past, I never tried to change, but I began to listen to the words people took the time to share. Listening to their advice, asking questions, and was always spying on what books and magazines they carried.mornings before their commute.


The last emotion came into play when I realized I could not do this alone. I knew I needed to change for myself. I couldn’t be beaten. About the emotion “resolve…”

About the emotion “resolve…”


I was lecturing about success to a group of bright kids at a junior high school. I asked, “Who can tell me what “resolve” means?” Several hands went up, and I did get some pretty good definitions. But the last was the best.

A shy girl from the back of the room got up and said with quiet intensity,”I think resolve means promising yourself you will never give up.” That’s it! That’s the best definition I’ve ever heard: PROMISE YOURSELF YOU’LL NEVER GIVE UP~ Jim Rohn.


I needed positive peer support, with genuine care and concern, love, and mentors. I could not do it alone. It is impossible. I resolved to find the help and support I needed to make this transformation my reality.


Positive peers and a support network kept me accountable and constantly driving towards goals and success. I needed to have faith and believe in the impossible. Not long ago I lost the empire I build in my first attempt at sobriety. I feared failure. Even worse, I feared success because what if I chose self-destruction one more time?

I needed to dig deep inside and find a reason why to make this change, but you gotta chill and wait for the next episode. Jim Rohn’s 4 emotions might not have worked in any type of order in my life, but each emotion to paved the way to the next stage of change.


Bringing it Together


Choosing myself and Recovery

Your fate is never set in stone. You can always make a change in your lives for the better. Therefore, it might seem painful because you lose your crutch and security. Once you stand naked and exposed without drugs or alcohol the reason why you deserve something more meaningful and real is revealed.


Please take the time to look inside and find that reason. You are worth it. You are beautiful. If you have the energy to breathe breath into your body and think a thought, then you are still in the game. It is never over until you have not one breath left. There is always hope.


Please share to help others come to terms with addiction and how sobriety is a personal choice. Your addiction doecn’t have to define who you are.

Featured Image credit: Spencer Platt / Getty Images