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Relapse is Part of Recovery

recovery and relapse

The needle and spoon

In recovery, relapse is used frequently. Some schools teach that relapse is part of recovery. This phrase should have never been allowed to leave the lips of the self-help guru’s that coined the phrase. Let me what you what this concept did for me.


It opened up the door to perpetual failure! It allowed for a reservation to return to the Land of Nod!


The process of relapse is a part of recovery but someone in treatment for a substance abuse disorder needs to understand how recovery and relapse works. There are some criteria that must be evaluated before this applies. It is important to keep in mind that each person’s recovery is unique.

Ask yourself?

  1. Am I working a recovery program to the best of my ability?
  2. Is this relapse really just a reservation to test the waters one more time?

I believe that a person is in recovery once they say that they are in recovery.


~If you are gonna say it then you had better start acting the part! ~


Do something positive and love yourself every damn day!

The first time I actually gave recovery a chance, I was forced. I was arrested with 4 bundles of heroin in my arse. The cops were trying to pinch me coming out of one of the hottest projects in Corn Hill (Utica, NY) and every night they would stop me and strip search me in their neighborhood watch van.

~In the Heroin game, neither cops or junkies stay within the boundaries of the law.~

One night they said they found a piece of crack in the cuff of my hauled me in on misdemeanor narcotic possession collar. After they booked me, they threw me in a holding cell. I took a leak in the toilet and nodded out.

I came to what I think was around 5 am. It was really quiet in the holding cell area and I thought I heard the guard snoring. The junkie in my head thought it would be a great time to snort some dope for breakfast. I went to the toilet and pushed the condom out of my ass and started to unwrap it. I heard footsteps running towards me.

Fuck! I yelled under my breath. I threw the dope in the toilet and flushed. The toilet didn’t flush. There was no water in the tank. They turned the water off before I got in the cell. CHECKMATE! Busted! I grabbed the dope and tried to put it back, but it was over.

I played a great game always avoiding their eyes and hands. Scoring dope and throwing it in their face. My disease defeated me in the end. I wasn’t dope-sick. I was just answering the call of the demon.

After months of court, I was released on a technicality. Soon, with a couple of new arrests, I was headed to New York State penitentiary. I’d made it to the big leagues.

That was when I decided to give sobriety a chance. The choice was not mine and eventual, y I would be paroled to my sister’s house. My “freedom” was monitored by the state for 4 more years. I valued that freedom. More importantly, I was already sober, so I chose to stay that way.

~It was easier to stay “in recovery” than to kick the demon heroin, out of my veins.~

When I got out of prison, I went to NA meetings, I went to outpatient treatment for 9 months, and talked a really good recovery. The problem is that nothing about my sobriety was sincere. I let go of any positive support that was directly related to NA within 4 years of my release.

Consequential thinking kept me sober. I can honestly say that it is not enough. Once I maxed out on parole, I no longer had a system to moor my abstinence. Relapse was imminent. I was alone in a world full of triggers, cravings, and dangerous feelings, without any type of coping mechanism or social support.

This is not entirely true because I had a mentor and people concerned about my well being.

~I had great friends that wanted the best for me.~

What this support lacked was a person who knew the pressures I faced in recovery, understood how the disease can blur reality if given the chance, and could see how my self-limiting beliefs were defeating me. I didn’t allow my “team” to see the hurt little boy who stood among them.

I showed them a work ethic to rival any Protestant, and my fearless, jump in head first, attitude when it came to making a plan work. I showed the ability to go from a broke parolee to an owner of three successful business in less than 3 years.

Most importantly, I showed them how I can self-destruct and become Homeless, Alone, Hungry, and Cold in a little under 6 months after the first ride with a syringe full of heroin.

~I systematically pushed them out of my life as I engineered my “relapse” to be reunited with heroin.~


In a little less than 18 months, I was back in NYC whoring, boosting, and begging. A new chapter in my life began. There was nothing new. The game was the same.

My new goal for each day was straightforward:  

  • Obtain money
  • Cop heroin
  • Fix
  • Nod
  • Repeat


This is how my first attempt at recovery ended up. I gave up on myself because there was never an honest belief in success (but I did have the “relapse” option).

  • I substituted my addiction, from heroin to work
  • I never learned to process my anger.
  • I bolstered my fearless moral inventory and never admitted to being wrong.
  • I spoke about and performed a fearless moral inventory. I never sought resolve in my efforts to change my traumatic and devastating lifestyle for the better. I just carried on as usual.


Jim Rohn says that resolve is one of the 4 emotions that initiate change towards success, so if I chose recovery for myself maybe I would have also found resolve. Nonetheless the 10 years of not using heroin set-up the success I am today. Today “relapse” is not part of my recovery.


My next post will discuss the difference in the quality of my recovery


~When I became sick and tired of chasing dope every day, recovery began on my terms.~


Becoming tired of a crappy life situation and existence is the 1st emotion of Jim Rohn’s four collateral emotions for the initiation of change.


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What do you think about Relapse being part of your recovery?

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