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Post Slip - Identifying Triggers

created by: JAL 2 months, 3 weeks ago



Hello All,

I had a slip last night as some of you may already know, and I thought I would document it here on what I believe led up to it. My intent on sharing this is to potentially help someone else that may be experiencing similar thoughts and patterns that I did. I know everybody is different. Here goes.

<Post Slip>

At day 144 I had a slip last night and drank 9 light beers. I had an uncontrollable urge to drink again. This has been steadily building for about a month in all actuality. I have identified some triggers that led up to the slip. I will outline those below. It is important to note that I woke up this morning and threw away the 9 beers remaining from the 18 pack I bought last night. It actually crossed my mind to drink again today. My brain tried to talk me into it. God must have been watching out over me, as I decided to not drink and to get rid of the remaining beers. A very smart move.

I reset my sobriety counter to today 11/25/2023. It is a setback and it sucks, but I gained knowledge and wisdom from this experience. My brain cannot be trusted no matter how long I stay away from alcohol. 3 months, 5 months, it doesn’t matter. That’s just the bitter truth. It will never get better and it will never go away. It will be a life-long battle. Luckily, I was able to contain this slip and not progress to a full-blown relapse. I am back on my recovery journey. I’m beginning to realize these slips are sometimes necessary for some people to finally get the fact that they can never drink again, no matter how long they are away from it or how committed they are to their sobriety. It has to be cemented into our brains.

Identified triggers in no particular order. I also emphasize the three facets of a relapse: Emotional, Mental, and Physical Phases.

1. Feeling like I should be further along in my career. Feeling like a failure that is not valued in my profession, even though my skills are highly praised by my peers and management. [Emotional Phase]
2. Negative emotions. Always feeling like I’m going to be fucked over. Feeling like people are just out to get me. I don’t trust anyone. [Emotional Phase]
3. Having thoughts of romanticizing about alcohol. Looking back to a time when I was happy that I was drinking, and thinking it can be like that again. This is very dangerous because I didn’t think about the misery it caused me so many times before. It was one-sided thinking. [Emotional and Mental Phases]
4. Boredom. I have been very bored the last few weeks. I play the guitar, but I always thought I played better drunk. This is what I think finally pushed me over the edge. I have been practicing, but I couldn’t help but think I’m just a better player when I’m fucked up. I know that’s not really true, but it is part of and builds with step 3 above. [Emotional and Mental Phase]
5. The actual slip. This didn’t even feel good to me honestly. Definitely not like it was during the “good ole days”. I was fine until I was fucked up. I did blackout and don’t remember going to sleep or eating. It’s clear that alcohol is no longer fun, but it remains an addiction that my brain sometimes craves, and it remains a battle I sometimes lose. [Physical Phase]

Thank you for reading this if you read it. Reading stuff like this helps me.

JAL


by: JAL 2 months, 3 weeks ago
replying to JAL

I relate to this so much, JAL. Thank you for taking the time to share it with us.

I especially relate to No. 4. I sing, but have always been a bit shy about it. But oh man, when I had several drinks in me, I had the stage presence of Whitney Houston (at least in my head 🤣). But the fact is, we don't need it. We never did. I'm glad you can see that too.

Keep doing the work. Proud of you.

~Nakia 💜


by: Nakia 2 months, 3 weeks ago
replying to Nakia

Than you Nakia,

That means a lot to me. You responding to my posts also means a lot to me. I have terrible stage fright, and the drinking was a way of artificially overcoming that. It's basically drunk courage as we both know. Obviously, Alcohol messes with our coordination, timing and balance, so I'm confident that it will not help with signing, dancing and/or playing an instrument. For me, it was just another way to justify my maladaptive behavior. I did a lot of soul searching today. Thanks for being there.

JAL


by: JAL 2 months, 3 weeks ago
replying to JAL

Hey Jal, thanks for sharing that with us! Thank goodness you were able to get back on track right away. This is the longest I have ever been sober (14.5 months) and I am so scared that if I ever did relapse it wouldn’t end good for me. But one day at a time for sure to keep that from happening and like you have mentioned identifying triggers. Glad you are here with us! Keep posting here :)


by: DA0523 2 months, 3 weeks ago
replying to DA0523

Hi DA0523.

First and foremost, congratulations on 14.5 months sober. That is an awesome achievement, and you should be very proud of that. It seems like I always get to a certain point and then I sabotage it. As you know it's very difficult. As soon as a woke up this morning I realized it was a huge mistake. I was overcome with anxiety and grief. It reinforced the fact that I am powerless over alcohol. I guess it's a lesson i had to learn the hard way...again. The way I'm looking at it now is that I had almost 5 months sober, and before that I had a 10 day relapse following another 3 months sober. I have made progress this year, even if I haven't been completely successful. I'm used to not failing at things, so this is very humbling for me to say the least. Thank you for the kind words and responding to my post, and again, congrats on the 14.5 months. I'll get there someday. JAL.


by: JAL 2 months, 3 weeks ago
replying to JAL

I have over 35 years of continuous sobriety. I have all of the same triggers you mention. I am completely and 💯% powerless over picking up the first drink RIGHT NOW. I admit this each morning and often throughout each day. Without this admission coupled with the recognition that I cannot manage my life sober alone, I cannot stay sober because willpower never worked for me. I also could not outsmart a drink. I have a new management team that I daily use.


by: Grateful 2 months, 3 weeks ago
replying to Grateful

Hi Grateful,

35 years of continuous sobriety is truly fantastic. I'll be honest, a goal like that for someone in early recovery seems unattainable, especially after what I just experienced. Having to reset the counter took the wind out of my sails. I need to focus on TODAY and not worry about yesterday. I will take your suggestions.

I did pray each day to God, and I thanked him for helping me continue being sober. Obviously, that wasn't enough this time. If I'm being honest, there were days I was pissed off at the world and half-heartedly went through the motions. I was grateful for my sobriety, but the circumstances of my life kind of over-shadowed it. This was a big mistake.

I have made progress. In the past, before rehab, I would quit for a few weeks or a month. but would then relapse and continue drinking for extended periods of time; months and years. After rehab, I went 3 months sober and then had a 10 day relapse in conjunction with my father passing away and not having support. This time around I was sober for about 5 months, had the one day slip, and now I'm back on my recovery program. It doesn't erase the fact that I've had close to 8 months sober this year and counting.

This is getting long winded, so I'll finish by saying thank you for responding to my post and offering me some insight on what has helped you remain sober long-term.

Have a great day.

JAL


by: JAL 2 months, 3 weeks ago
replying to JAL

Copied and pasted this SoberTool message about signs and triggers:

Are you climbing the relapse ladder?

Relapse is at the top of a nine step ladder of thoughts, feelings, and behaviors. The lowest rung is called happy memories . "Happy memories" means that you are thinking about the good times you had while you were using. The next rung up is called "I wasn't that bad ." This occurs when you tell yourself you weren't really that bad, that your addiction was someone else's fault, that your problem was caused by anything except your disease. The next rung higher is stopping   treatment. This means that you cease going to meetings, you stop practicing the steps, you don't have time to see your therapist, you stop talking to your sponsor, you don't do your daily meditation. When you stop treatment, you pretend that you can stay sober by doing nothing. The fourth rung is called high risk situations . Examples are you return to the bar that you used to frequent, you begin hanging out with your old using friends, you spend long periods of time isolating in the basement where you used to drink vodka. You put yourself in these situations not thinking that you will use there, but just to experience the feeling of being there again. The fifth rung is called, emotional imbalance . During emotional imbalance, something causes you to get really angry, irritated or otherwise emotional and you remember how your drug, drink or behavior took away the pain of the emotion. You may even get really happy and you remember how you always drank to celebrate. Now you are really getting higher on the ladder, and like any ladder, the higher you go, the more dangerous the climb. Also, the higher you go, the more committed you are to reaching the top. The sixth rung is fantasizing. Now, you are spending increasing periods of your day thinking about using for no apparent reason. Fantasizing leads to the seventh rung, getting ready to use . This means you intend to use and you plan how you are going to relapse. You tell yourself that tonight when my husband is asleep, I am going to sneak out to the Bar. You make arrangements to buy drugs. You return to the internet porn site. You get dressed to go to the casino. You think through the exact steps of where you are going to go to get your drugs, drink, or act out. On the next rung, you actually get the drugs or order the drink. You acquire the tools of relapse. On this rung, you may feel a terrible panic, and unless you reach out to someone (which is now incredibly difficult to do because you are so committed to reaching the top), you step up to the final and ninth rung which is Relapse .   As you know, the Relapse rung has a crack in it and cannot bear your weight. So you come crashing down. Sometimes the crash happens immediately. Sometimes, the crack worsens over time. But since there is a crack, you will fall. If you survive the fall, you will feel guilt at having relapsed. You will resolve to stop using. And unless you get treatment, you will start the terrible climb back up the relapse ladder beginning with the first rung which is…..

TO DO: If you are on the Relapse Ladder, you need to get off on the lowest rung possible BY TELLING ON YOUR DISEASE! Remember there are two parties involved in a relapse. There is you and there is your disease. If you tell someone that you may be on the Relapse Ladder, you are telling on your disease, not you. So, ask yourself if you are on any of the nine rungs. If so, say to yourself, "I must get off the ladder now" five times to yourself with increasing emphasis. Then pick up the phone and tell your trusted friend, confidant, therapist, or mentor which rung of the ladder you are on and that you want to get off. (Leaving a voicemail message also works). If you can’t connect with someone, read your recovery literature, pray to your Higher Power, write down which rung you are on and list the consequences which made you want to get sober in the first place. Do something recovery oriented and don't substitute your drug of choice with another drug or bad behavior lest you start a new addiction. Then try to connect with a supportive person as soon as possible. This process works regardless of your philosophical or religious beliefs. Remember, sharing with another doesn’t mean that you only reach out when you have a recognizable craving or urge to use. Sharing means that you reach out and discuss where you may be on the Relapse Ladder.

SoberTool Website (https://www.sobertool.com)
SoberTool App (http://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.osu.cleanandsobertoolboxandroid)


by: Grateful 2 months, 3 weeks ago
replying to Grateful

Thank you for posting this Grateful. It seems like I'm always somewhere on that ladder. I need to get better at recognizing the 9 rungs before it's too late. I never want to reach the 9th rung again. JAL


by: JAL 2 months, 3 weeks ago

My trigger is when I feel really good. Usually when I've recovered from the the last binge I was on. I would sit in the patio listening to alternative country music. The garden lights on and everything looking wonderful. I would pour a whiskey either straight or on ice and say just one because it's such a beautiful night and the music is so right on. Several whiskeys later I'm braying to the music and stumbling around. I didn't think I could enjoy the music or the night unless drunk until recently when I was sitting with a cup of tea and listening to country. I found out it was just as good, the night beautiful Colter playing singing to me and in bed by ten with no whopping hangover that lasted days


by: MikeG 2 months, 3 weeks ago
replying to MikeG

Thank you for reading and sharing MikeG.

Feeling good is also a trigger for me as well. It just wasn't a factor this time. The central theme in all of this is losing control. Saying just "one" and then progressing to the point of intoxication. I can certainly identify with you. When I drink I know I can never just have one. I never could even from day 1. When I lie to myself it involves "I'll just drink tonight" baloney. Most of the time it turns into more than that. Much more. I'm thankful that it didn't this time.

JAL


by: JAL 2 months, 3 weeks ago

Thanks for writing this JAL. It is helpful to read and I am sorry that it was a slip that led to it. Happy that you are here and continuing on sober.

I spent some months of going back and forth, trying to quit and then drinking even more, it was tortuous. Went to AA, liked some of it, and told myself that if I should fail again then I would do 90 days, 90 meetings and do what is said regardless of my dislikes. That day 1 stuck though. I think that I am nearing a relapse, when I think that having one can't be that bad as there's no saying that I would or would not continue to drink. But I went through this already and I'm repeating myself and so just stopping there, sometimes I call it a gift of redundancy. Instincts perhaps can't be calculated, but they can be expected. So that danger of drinking the same again is always there. But so can recovery always be there too. Spiritus contra spiritum, what Jung said. I like that.

Thanks for sharing, happy that you're here.

Have a nice day!


by: Vita2037 2 months, 3 weeks ago
replying to Vita2037

Hi Vita2037,

Having to reset the counter did discourage me, but it also made me realize this is a life-long battle that will never get better. I was also toying with the idea of moderation and "controlled" drinking this time, just like you had mentioned. This thinking, coupled with the triggers mentioned above, contributed to my slip. I guess I need to admit to myself that I'm not perfect. I will make mistakes. I'm human. It's extremely humbling for someone that's a perfectionist.

I did go to AA, but my schedule at work is unpredictable and I had trouble going to meetings with any real regularity. I'm going to try some online meetings and see how that goes. I don't have a problem with the spiritual aspects, as I do believe in God and I'm not afraid to admit it. I may also give church a try as well.

One of my big problems is I live alone, and it's nearly impossible to make friends where I live. I'm not from the area, and you have to be part of a clique to fit in. Small town stuff. I also cannot confide in people at work for obvious reasons.

Anyway, thank you for responding to my post. As bad as this setback is, I believe I experienced it for a reason. It was a lesson I needed to learn.

Have a great day.

JAL


by: JAL 2 months, 3 weeks ago
replying to JAL

I live alone too. Really more of an introvert and liking solitude on most days. I imagine that when you do decide to attend meetings when you can, that you would make new friends there too.

Every once in awhile loneliness comes up, but it doesn't stay long .... and some thoughts that help with it that if I think that I don't belong anywhere, well, I belong to God, and the second one I read a long time ago in one of Joseph Campbell's books „when you think you're all alone, you shall be be with all the world...“ .... Now looked for this second one, here it is. Think it is neat, hope you don't mind me sharing. :)

"We have not even to risk the adventure alone
for the heroes of all time have gone before us.
The labyrinth is thoroughly known ...
we have only to follow the thread of the hero path.
And where we had thought to find an abomination
we shall find a God.

And where we had thought to slay another
we shall slay ourselves.
Where we had thought to travel outwards
we shall come to the center of our own existence.
And where we had thought to be alone
we shall be with all the world.”
― Joseph Campbell


by: Vita2037 2 months, 3 weeks ago
replying to Vita2037

Thank you for reading and responding Vita2037. I don't mind you sharing at all! I'm also an introvert. I prefer to be alone for the most part. The only time it gets to me sometimes is around the holidays. I have noticed that thoughts of alcohol are heightened around major holidays, like Christmas and Thanksgiving. I used top have awesome holidays when I was younger. Most of my relatives are gone now. JAL


by: JAL 2 months, 3 weeks ago