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Is relapse a part of recovery?

Many times when an addict or alcoholic comes crawling back to the rooms of AA and NA after deciding to try drinking or using one more time, she is welcomed back and told, “It’s okay – relapse is a part of recovery.”

For some people, this may be true. For others, relapse is a part of death. This phrase might placate those who feel guilty after a slip and are embarrassed to admit they drank or used, but it also gives others implicit permission to go out and have another go at it. All who are a part of recovery know that addiction and alcoholism are diseases that claim lives every day. How could we be so careless as to suggest that everybody can relapse and just mosey right on back to recovery when they stop having fun?

Even if a relapse doesn’t cause death, it inevitably causes some kind of chaos and disaster. There is absolutely no reason that any addict should feel they have the right to relapse, or that relapse is unavoidable.

There are plenty of men and women in the program who have never picked up a drink or a drug since the day they committed to sobriety. Some of these individuals have forty or more years of sobriety. Wouldn’t it be better to aim toward that example rather than preemptively assuming that we will fail and relapse one or more times before we “get it?”