‘My Truth – I relapsed’

I hope all my recovering friends will agree the cornerstones of recovery are honesty, accountability and responsibility.

I have had 10 years of recovery based on those very fundamental recovery keystones. And today my conscious won’t be clear if I still keep on mitigating my lapses and say nothing about what happened recently that aggravated rumors among people about my relapse to alcohol.

Although half of what people talk about me is not true, I have nothing against those people. In fact, I am grateful for my family members and good friends who stood by me; and as a result, my relapse has been prevented before it became full blown.

Today with less than a month’s sobriety, I write here to confess publically that I have relapsed, and I want say sorry to all my good friends and concerned individuals for denying to them earlier.

I’ve preached to hundreds of people not to be ashamed of a relapse and, instead, learn from it so it won’t happen again, but when it came to my own relapse, I felt shame and I am going through immense guilt.

Though I overcame my relapse, I didn’t disclose it because of my self esteem and pride as a so called pioneer in the recovery moment in the country. And with the fear of being leveled as a fraud that couldn’t practice what he preached.

For many years I have been working with alcoholics and addicts through their withdrawals, sicknesses and their problems that I actually forgot that I am an addict myself, I forgot about the chronic disease I live with. Because of the fact that I help many people with addiction on a daily basis I got fooled, my ego got in, I thought I was above all these, that this could never happen to me. I didn’t even see it coming and I got caught off guard.

It is so sad that many people, who relapse feel so bad about themselves, are so embarrassed, are so depressed about the relapse that they give up. They don’t try again, or they go through the misery for many more years before they hit a new bottom sufficiently horrible to motivate them to try again. And many of them also die.

Since relapse is a part of most of chronic diseases including addiction and its recovery journey,

I am sure by talking about my relapse openly I will not let my recovering friends down. I hope by doing it I am not just being honest and open but also upholding the recovery message of hope to many of my still suffering addicts and alcoholics friends.

I realized I had only two choices after a few episodes of binging. Seek support to sober up to live, or watch myself drown deeper into pain and miseries’. I knew it’s a now or never decision I have to make to come back before I lose everything.

And I am happy now that -I chose life.

My relapse was triggered by silly mistake. I accidentally drank small amount of Ara which was in a water bottle, and the silliest thing I did was I went more sips thinking I can control it but my craving got more intense as I was also under some stress because of a personal problem at home.

I now take it as a lesson- though it has been a much harder and more painful situation than I ever imagined and the hardest was to face my own fear and anxiety of being judged and rejected.

In the 12-step program, one must set the sobriety clock back to zero and start counting from day one again—once we relapse, but, for me, I feel that’s just in theory. I want to justify here that we don’t lose the wisdom and experience gained during your previous clean time. One doesn’t suddenly lose the hard won positive lessons. In my own case, it did seem as if the strength gained from those clean years dithered for a while—and I did feel lost, uncertain. But that strength, like the wisdom, was still there, waiting for me to return to it. It is also the main strength that allowed me to overcome my relapse along with the support from my friends and family.

I want to be one hundred percent clear now: I hope my experience with relapse is over forever. But I am also no longer egotistical enough to think relapse is safely foreign, either. And, I believe, what I’ve learned through this relapse will help me relate to you who are still struggling today.

There’s no getting around it. You slipped. You had a relapse. It’s time to face the facts, pick yourself up, and start back on the road to recovery. The truth is that many recovering addicts have one or more relapses before they finally get it together.

This is not an accusation, simply a reality. The problem is, once it’s happened to you, it’s not so easy to face what’s happened. The tendency is to heap blame on yourself, to feel that somehow you should have been able to avoid a relapse. That I think is not helpful at all. There are many pathways ways to face yourself after relapse. You can do it.

Opinion by Tshewang Tenzin

The writer is the Executive Director of the Chithuen Phendey Association a CSO that helps alcohol and drug addicts.

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