As Memorial Day weekend begins, let’s all who fight the war against substance abuse and remember how far we’ve come.
Remember the Fallen
Sadly, we can’t pretend that everyone wins the personal war against substance abuse. In 2014, more than 28,000 Americans died from opioid overdoses, and over 75,000 from alcoholism-related issues (not counting the nearly 10,000 traffic deaths related to driving while intoxicated). It’s unfair to assume this happens only to the “weak” or to those with no desire to quit. Many people fight their cravings for years, repeatedly go through the abuse–sobriety–abuse–sobriety cycle, and finally hit that one weak moment where a little more proves too much, or a deliberate “too much” sounds a siren call to permanent relief from the struggle. Sometimes, it takes just one wrong step among thousands of right ones to cross the line of no return. Remember to think kindly of the fallen and to comfort those left behind.
Remember the Walking Wounded
Those still kicking against “will these cravings ever leave me alone?” feelings, or struggling to regain their footing after relapse, or freshly detoxed and looking with trepidation at the road ahead, need support and understanding. They’re learning to “walk” again after war injuries received from substance abuse; nothing hurts them more than being treated as weaklings who should have known better and probably won’t stay straight. Having their continuing struggles ignored by others impatient to “get back to normal” is almost as bad. Remember to offer a listening ear, a helping hand, and genuine empathy.
Remember the Hard Times
It may seem counterproductive to look back on your struggles rather than burying them in the past, but they can serve as guides for the future. We learn more about how (and how not) to handle tough situations through our hardships than through our successes. We also learn not to count on everything always going exactly according to plan—and that when it doesn’t, we have what it takes to keep going. Remember to keep your coping skills sharp.
Remember the Good Times
Even if struggles have greater learning value, joys are hardly to be discounted. For example, they provide memories to keep our spirits up in difficult times and our hope for the future intact. They encourage us to believe we can succeed again and again. Remember to celebrate your sobriety anniversaries and to keep in touch with old friends.
Remember Where You Have No Desire to Return
After some time of sobriety, the memories of substance abuse’s worst effects may fade. That can be dangerous; the risk of relapse under stress is highest when we remember only the relief offered by our old “coping strategy,” without acknowledging the negative effects that came with it. Remember that the “easy way out” is rarely easy or rewarding for long.
Remember How Far You’ve Come
We all have times when we look at the long road ahead and entertain despairing thoughts about never having accomplished anything worthwhile. Dwelling on that is the starting point for many a substance-abuse problem or relapse. But if you have moved beyond substance abuse at the center of your life to a life with a more trustworthy center—even if only for a couple of weeks so far—you have made real progress. If you have been sober for any length of time or withstood even one temptation to relapse, you have accomplished something worthwhile. You don’t have to start a successful business or travel around the world before you’ve “gotten somewhere.” Remember to acknowledge every step forward as a triumph.
Remember Your Weaknesses
If you had a longstanding habit of drinking a whole six-pack at picnics, don’t tempt trouble by taking any beer to a picnic. If certain people are so stressful to be around that you always come home craving a drink to relax, find someone else to spend your evenings with. Thinking “I can handle it this time” is always a risk, and usually an unnecessary one. Remember that your health is more important than your pride, and that little good comes from trying to prove you can finally get it right.
Remember Your Strengths
Give your energy to opportunities and venues that bring out the best in you. For instance, enter that art show, sign up for that class, spend time with people you can help, volunteer for something that uses your skills. Remember to keep busy with things you enjoy, not things you don’t enjoy that’ll tempt you toward relapse.
Remember Your Real Self
Your weaknesses and strengths, dislikes and passions, should never be determined by what others think is right. Moreover, if you practice listening to your better instincts, you’ll wind up contributing more to the world. Remember, you are in the best position of anyone to know your own mind.
Remember Those Who Care for You
Substance abuse puts heavy strain on relationships; that’s why a major focus of any 12-step recovery program is making amends to anyone and everyone you’ve hurt. That may involve more than apologies or material compensation. Most of all, they may want you back. There’s often a lot of lost time and emotional neglect to make up for. Remember to spend attentive, empathetic time with those closest to you.
Recovery with Kemah Palms
If you or a loved one is looking for recovery—whether first time or from a relapse—Kemah Palms can help. Our comprehensive substance abuse treatment programs ensure each individual finds recovery at all levels to maximize relapse prevention. For more information on addiction treatment options, call us at 866.604.1873 today.