No matter what you say, no matter what or who you blame it on, relapse is all about you and no one but you. The only exception occurs if someone comes busting through the door with a gun in his hand and points it at you and says, “You will use!” Then, OK, I get that. But if
that is not the case, then put the blame squarely where it belongs: you decided to relapse, you chose to relapse. This is called the no BS approach to responsibility. Own your actions. You choose because you can choose, and ultimately you live with choice and its consequences.

After you choose to relapse, you feel guilt, disgust, disappointment, sadness, self-loathing, and even confusion as to why you did it. Some of you have said you didn’t know why you did it. I call you out on that right away. This calling you out is one of the great reasons to have a coach.

Most times I take the position of “take no prisoners,” which means you cannot BS me. You do know why. I push you and pull you and I make you tell me and I make you hear yourself. Then I hear reasons like, “I was bored.” Bored? Are you kidding me? You were bored, so out of a gazillion selections you could have made, you chose to use? Please. The real reason behind a choice to relapse is that things are not going your way. Poor baby.

The other real reason is that you caved into the first reason. You knew you would have cravings. You knew, although you were in recovery, that life was not going to be perfect. You knew that, but it didn’t matter because the wrong voice in your head won. That’s right, little acorn, the wrong voice won. That voice is the voice of habit, of compulsion, of obsession, of fear. Yes, I said fear. Fear of living without your coping mechanism. Fear of recovery being too hard. Fear of the unknown. Fear of not having the excuse for not succeeding.

Well, guess what? These are real fears, and you’re not the only one who experiences them. You know what I say? I say, so what? So what if it is hard? So what if you are scared? So what, so what, so what!

You’re right. It is hard. It is scary. It is so easy to give in and give up. It is so easy to bullshit yourself with addict talk: just this once, just a taste, just to take the edge off, just, just, just.

Learn to listen. Figure out which voice in your head is speaking. You are actually capable of choosing which voice will win. You are actually capable of calling upon the new voice, the little scared voice, the right voice. And you damn well know which voice is the right one.

Here is a little story for you. Author unknown, and I have probably taken more than just a little poetic license.

A little boy tells his grandfather he feels like there are two wolves fighting in his head. “How will I know which wolf will win, Grandfather?” he asks.

The wise old grandfather says, “The wolf that wins will be the one you feed.”

Remember that.

So what are the lessons of a relapse? Relapse is easy. Relapse is always a choice. Recovery can be tough. Temptation is hard to turn away from. Opportunity to use is always presenting itself. There is too much stress. I can listen to the voice I choose. Are these the lessons? Yes, these are some of the lessons. Decide which wolf you will feed.