Lapse vs. Relapse

Where to start...?

Things have been quite rough lately, which is why my posts have all but stopped. Today I'm taking advantage of feeling somewhat normal - I use that term loosely - to explain what has been going on. 

My symptoms have been steadily getting harder to manage, and last week I reached crisis point. I ended up drinking. My concept of time has vanished but I think I only used for 3 days, with the 3rd day being an almighty mess. 

I can see why people die from alcohol poisoning after spending some time living in abstinence. I drank about 40cl of JD in a night and my body went into shock. It was terrifying and definitely not just a bad hangover. I told my boyfriend what happened purely because I wasn't sure if I was going to end up in hospital or not. 

Anyway. That night I tried as hard as I could to reach out and ask for help, but it's just incredibly hard for me to say how bad things are. The amount of times I dialed the mental health crisis line and just cleared the number again.... I posted on message boards but it was around 2-3am so obviously not many people were around! I think I got to bed at around 5am. 

The next evening I poured away the leftover alcohol. 

It took just 3 days for me to go from 'just one drink' to a full blown binge. I wanted to stop but I had absolutely no control. Abstinence is the only thing that will work for me. 

This brings me to a dilemma. Was this a lapse or a relapse? It seems that those that follow the AA method would call this a relapse and reset their sobriety count to zero. I find this a bit extreme, but I disagree with AA and how they operate on the whole. 

I consider a relapse to be when you're engaging in a behaviour that you know to be harmful and part of your addiction for more than a week. Why a week? In my opinion, it shouldn't take you more than that to get it out of your system and realise it's not worth it, then get back on the straight and narrow with the knowledge that you were doing the right thing by engaging in recovery.

AA is very black and white. Some people need that type of system, which I totally understand and respect. Addaction and my own beliefs have shown me that illness such as this has shades of grey in it just the same as life does. You can use a lapse to benefit your recovery. Granted, if you do relapse you can learn just the same but the key here is to be self-aware and stop before you physically can't. We all make mistakes. 

I don't see why I should throw away 7 and a half months of sobriety because my mental health has declined to a point where I reached out to the only thing I knew to take the pain away.

Some people might say I'm using this as something of a excuse to hold onto the length of sobriety I have and allow myself to use again in the future without consequence. I am facing the consequences of my actions. I feel tremendous shame and guilt. I feel anger towards myself and towards the power of addiction. I have to look at, and care for, fresh wounds on my body that I gave myself while under the influence. 

I gained absolutely nothing positive from using, bar the knowledge that I can never, ever drink again.

Next time I might not escape.

Addiction is not something to be taken lightly. Get help.

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