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A Hole in the Sidewalk
In over twenty years of my work in the addictions field, I have had the honor of witnessing thousands of men and women of every age recover from various addictive disorders. Many are fortunate to remain abstinent from their first day of recovery, but there are those who relapse after several weeks, several months or even after years of abstinence. While I have met people who have relapsed at each phase, one of my most vivid memories was in working with a man who had been clean from alcohol for thirty years. Within just three days of starting to drink again, he needed to be hospitalized because he was so physically sick. Just as significant, he was as spiritually and emotionally bankrupt as he had been thirty years previously when he first quit drinking. Thus, the severe consequences of a relapse. Many people die in relapse, others remain chronic relapsers. Others who relapse eventually return to a program of recovery and find continuous sobriety. While the most prevalent substance addictions are to alcohol and other drugs, A Hole in the Sidewalk: The Recovering Person's Guide to Relapse Prevention can be utilized for a wide range of addictive disorders — from nicotine, alcohol and drug addictions, to sex, work, spending, gambling, food, and relationship addictions. The common theme in relapse is the resumption of self-destructive behaviors. Being an addict, in and of itself, means one is prone to relapse. To assume and simply hope it will not occur is denial. We must all take a proactive stance. Addictions are diseases of isolation and recovery begins with connecting to others who can help us understand our addiction, offer a path for recovery, and provide hope. Recovery is also about being accountable and taking action. Picking up this book is a statement that you take your addiction seriously and want to be proactive against a possible relapse. Whether or not you have a history of relapsing or want to immediately begin to work at potential stumbling blocks, this book can be a major asset. It is my hope that if you have picked up “A Hole in the Sidewalk,” you are already involved in a recovery process. The single greatest contributor to relapse is to lose sight of recovery as the first priority in life. Without recovery, all will be jeopardized — be it our relationship with God, our family, our job. Irrespective of importance, all are threatened if we cannot stay in recovery. If you are not involved in a recovery process, then please immediately seek a resource in your community that can give you direction as to what is available to you. This book is not meant to be a program of recovery. It is meant to be an additional tool for your recovery. As previously acknowledged, people relapse at different phases in their recovery, and for very different reasons. Knowing this, I have chosen to address various issues that I believe are often overlooked, or need to be reinforced. Most people will use this book as a workbook and start from the beginning. If you choose, after you have completed the first section (“Getting Started — A Look Over Your Shoulder”) you can skip to the various themes that explore the issues you identify to be a priority. Please do not limit your responses to the numbers or lines offered. You may find it helpful to use a journal. I encourage you to share what you are learning about yourself with a counselor, therapist, sponsor, or recovering friend. Depending on the addiction, the language that signifies recovery includes words such as clean and sober, abstinence, sobriety, etc. To be inclusive of the many possible addictions, I have chosen to use the word recovery. I ask you, the reader, to identify those behaviors that represent relapse, as well as recovery, from your own addiction(s). Each section offers additional tools for your recovery. To remind you that knowledge about addiction and recovery is a tool, at the close of each section there is a toolbox icon. The more tools you gather and use, the more your recovery will be strengthened. A very powerful tool is to acknowledge why we are grateful for our recovery everyday. Each section concludes with an opportunity to stop and reflect ─ not just on the exercises completed, but the day. In recovery, we often talk about the need to live One Day at a Time. Recovery, One Day at a Time, is a gift ─ that is why it is called the present. It is my hope that the moment for reflection will be something you include in your daily practice.