Long-Term Sobriety Advice From A Chronic Relapser

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Long-Term Sobriety Advice From A Chronic Relapser

By Tyler Hanna 08/24/17

What led me to say no that night? I wondered that for several months after the incident.

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Tyler Hanna

My hands were shaky and sweaty as I sat by the coffee table. I had been in this position for about an hour or so and I had a million thoughts racing through my mind. Thoughts of “do it; don’t do it” were conflicting inside of me as the little, yellow line in front of me challenged my ability to say no. The upstairs of my parents' house was typically conducive to a scene like this.

I sat there for another hour before I finally made my decision. My heart still racing, I scraped the little, yellow line onto the piece of paper that housed the rest of the powder. I tiptoed to the bathroom as not to wake my parents and I flushed the paper down the toilet. I was about 18 months clean at this time but I still felt dirty. Like I had used even though I didn’t.

What led me to say no that night? I wondered that for several months after the incident.

I had been in positions like that before where I easily gave in, but that night was different.

It was a turning point.

Three years later, I think I have discovered what led me to say no that night.

I said no because the benefits of my sobriety finally outweighed the costs of using drugs.

As I was staring at that little, yellow line, I couldn’t get the images of my family and church friends out of my mind. I knew that if I were to use, I would have to leave them and find a new community. A community of drug addicts and alcoholics.

The relationships that were created and repaired in those short 18 months were enough to keep me from using that night.

I was on my way to a coffee shop in a Lyft earlier today. My driver was making small talk with me and asked what I was going to do at the coffee shop.

I told him, “I’m going to write a couple of articles for some online publications.”

“Oh, what are the topics?” My inquisitive driver asked.

“Well, one is on economics and the other one is about recovery. Long-term sobriety advice, more specifically.” I answered.

“Oh, interesting… What’s the biggest piece of advice that you would offer to someone in recovery?” The driver asked, probing deeper.

Want to know what I told him?

My one piece of advice for this Lyft driver is the same piece of advice that I am giving to you.

Get involved in a community.

Turns out my Lyft driver was three and a half years sober. And my advice resonated with him.

Community is everything.

It doesn’t matter if that community is an AA group, NA group, church group, family group, or whatever.

That community will celebrate you in the good times of your sobriety and support you in the rough times. Whether they know it or not.

That community is also your key to long-term recovery.

In fact, there has been an emerging theory in the field of psychology that confirms this advice. “So it does indeed appear that the opposite of addiction is not sobriety, it’s connection. That said, developing healthy interpersonal connections as a part of recovery and healing is not easy. It takes time, effort, and a willing support network. The good news is that we now know for certain that this type of recovery and social connection is possible — even for the most problematic of addicts.” (Weiss, 2015).

I can attest that if it wasn’t for the relationships that I had with my family and friends, I would have snorted that little, yellow line.

However, the benefits of having meaningful connections with people that I cared about far outweighed the cost of giving up 18 months of sobriety. It was my community that kept me sober.

Today, I have almost five years clean and it’s entirely due to my support network.

It took me nine treatments to realize that my family and friend groups were the keys to long-lasting sobriety. Don’t let your recovery take that long.

Tyler is currently a student at North Central University in Minneapolis, MN where he studies marketing and entrepreneurship. When he's not enjoying his recovery, you can find him blogging, reading a good book, taking the Myers-Briggs personality assessment, or watching The Office. Check out his website at tylerwaynehanna.com for more information/updates on Tyler.

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Tyler Hanna is currently a student at North Central University in Minneapolis, MN where he studies marketing and entrepreneurship. When he's not enjoying his recovery, you can find him blogging, reading a good book, taking the Myers-Briggs personality assessment, or watching The Office. You can also find him on Linkedin and Twitter.

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