Foundation Stones – Recovery and Relapse

Both Recovery and Relapse places a stone in the foundation our addicts are building. These stones are the tools they gather along the way. Some of the tools our addicts will be given are the “12 Steps”.

A number of years ago I did a 12 Step based program called “Making Peace with your Past”. It was hard work. It included a lot of self discovery and working through some tough memories and emotions. It took me a good 6 months to complete working through it week after week with a counselor, and then a number of months after for me to really start implementing the steps.

I know just how hard it was for me getting through those 12 steps as well as the work it entailed and I was not an addict. Adding that (addiction) to the mix can only add more time, anxiety and work. For some of our addicts there has been something in their lives that they desire to cover over. Some emotional pain, some difficult trauma they prefer to forget, that sets them on the path to addiction. If they had the coping skills (tools), trusted someone with the pain who could have afforded them the guidance (stones) to overcome they may have never ventured down the path that is so hard to come back from. I know this was true for my son (and for my sister).

Learning these skills, acquiring the tools, placing the stones in the foundation is hard work.

The work recovery takes can be daunting, painful and humbling… And there will be times that something will come along and crash down a stone or two, or ten. A tool they have learned will get misplaced.

And relapse will happen.

A new skill can be learned from the relapse, so don’t discount the time of relapse as not being a part of the recovery. It takes great strength to come back from a relapse, and that strength was gained during the previous run of recovery. I have heard so many stories of addicts that the relapse to recovery time gets shorter. (My son included) Those tools and stones that have been placed in the foundation are still there, and it will be those remaining stones that hold them up and get them to the next run of Recovery.

When the foundation is complete and cured (a concrete term), then a life free of addiction can be built on it. Nicks and cracks will come, but the tools they have acquired along the way will become the mortar that fills them in.
Rushing the process will only produce a faulty foundation, similar to the biblical story of the foolish man who built his house on the sand… It takes wisdom to build a house on a rock, and that is what the work of Recovery is for.

Holding on to NO

I must admit that over the past 10 months saying NO has gotten easier. Each time I have said it and held to it I feel more empowered. It makes it easier when the next time comes around. I have chosen to NOT enable my son any longer while actively using drugs.

No money
No living at home
No rides, other than to treatment.

I have to stand firm on this.

Now 84 days clean saying NO gets a bit more difficult. He’s not actively using and I want to do whatever I can that will truly support his Recovery.

The calls come in…

Can you help me with this…

I just need help this one time…

I have nowhere to go until tomorrow when I can get into …

Weighing each request before I answer can be tiring and frustrating, but weigh them I must. Staying one or two steps ahead of my son is very important, his recovery and his life can depend on my staying the course.

We have paid for a few things here and there, never by handing him cash, when he needed a dress shirt, pants and shoes for a job interview per the request of the Halfway House (and yes I made sure it came from them) I bought the clothes and sent them. We have allowed him to sleep on the sofa a few times when he has been in transition between places, never more than 12 hours. I always made sure he had a placement the next morning. To which I would drive him…

Saturday night I received a text from him that said

I really don’t want to be here, I really wish I could come home but I know that’s not an option. I want to go back to the Sober House and be close to home. I don’t want to do drugs anymore. I can’t and I won’t. I want to move on with my life, get a job. Would you help me with the first two weeks rent at the Sober House?”

Has that positive slant doesn’t it?

He was in at New Hope in Weymouth waiting for a placement at a Halfway House. Once again he wanted to skip over the next step… each time he has done that he has failed. This time though he has 84 days of being Sober behind him.

Can he make it? Will he fail?

I chose the difficult road in my response telling him to

“Hang in there, get to a Halfway House, find a job, then move on to a Sober House. Do it the right way. Take your time; get as many clean days between you and the past as you can before you try to move on with your life.”

I thought; maybe I got through to him.

But truth be told I was expecting him to run the next day.

And he did.

I’m holding on to the NO’s, and will carefully use my Yeses for the purpose of his Recovery

Recovery means: Never Put All your Eggs in One basket

Being an active observer in my son’s recovery from addiction, I have been prone to disappointment and upset. It’s part of the recovery process, moving forward three steps, and falling back one. Working the program, and walking out of them; sometimes because you’ve been asked to leave and sometimes because they chose to.

Each time he has gotten into another recovery house I’ve been on the edge of my seat, expectantly waiting for the miracle of the transformed life. Hoping that this will be the place that makes the difference. I’ve now lost count of how many times he has been in Rehabs and Recovery Houses. November 2008 seems like a lifetime ago, sending him off to that first Detox, thinking at that time; in a few months this addiction thing will be a thing of the past and he’ll move on to a successful life.

Each failure hitting me hard; each time he would relapse I’d find myself trying to dig myself out of a pit of despair. Asking myself… Why? Why didn’t this work, why didn’t he take the next step? Why? Somewhere along the way I have come to a place of peace in this storm. I’ve stopped putting all my eggs in one basket,

meaning that I’ve stopped believing that “this is the place; this will be the one program that makes all the difference”. And I am so thankful I have.

Last week my son entered Teen Challenge on Thursday, and he walked out on Monday. Barely 4 days. Teen Challenge is a great program, and I know a number of people whose lives have been radically changed because of it. Upon his entering had my mind set been

“This is the place!!!! This is where it will happen”

I would have been crushed yesterday. Instead I was filled with a peace that truly passes all understanding (mine included). My son’s recovery is not confined to any one set of four walls. I am a firm believer that for true recovery to happen my son will need to submit his life completely to God. And God is big enough that He is never confined to a set of walls.

When my son is ready, when he truly wants to put this life behind him and has hit a bottom that hurts more than the pain recovery will take, he will encounter a God who has been waiting for him and Recovery will happen now matter what Recovery house he is in.