This week, I lost a sister in sobriety to a relapse. I met Madison* ten years ago, while we were both in jail dealing with the consequences of DUIs. At the time, she was committed to her sobriety; she attended meetings regularly, had a sponsor, and was really involved in service work. That drive to stay sober lasted for a couple of years, as she embodied what it meant to be a sober member of a twelve-step program. Yet over time, she became complacent. She stopped attending meetings regularly, and she stopped reaching out to her sponsor. Those two missteps led to a lack of opportunity for service work, and ultimately a relapse.
For the next ten years, Madison was in and out of recovery. She would stay sober long enough to feel better and then try desperately to convince herself that she didn’t have a problem so she could drink again. Within months, weeks, or sometimes days of a relapse, she would be back in the program seeking relief, and the cycle repeated itself over and over. At times, she would feel so embarrassed by her drinking, that she would try to start again in AA with new meetings, new sponsors, and new sober friends, but it always led to the same dire consequence. She always chose alcohol over honesty.
I used to tell Madison that someday she would have one final relapse, and that would either be the time she got sober for good or the time the drink finally killed her. I was devastated to hear it was the latter, and I will miss the vibrant woman that Madison was. However, I wasn’t shocked to hear of her passing. The thing is, addicts don’t get to live their full joyous lives if they don’t stay sober. It’s non-negotiable. To drink/drug is to die, and Madison is proof of that. So why did I get it on my first try? Why haven’t I ever stepped out after all these years? Why did it work for me from that very first meeting when it doesn’t work for others?
Honesty. Rigorous honesty. Madison used to say there were things she couldn’t share. She would defend not completing her fourth and fifth step by faking ill-preparedness. She would often say she wasn’t “ready” to share. She could “never” forgive some people. She didn’t want to “burden” someone else with her problems. She held onto some of her darkest demons instead of seeking therapy to unburden her. This inability to get honest ultimately led to her demise.
To live our full joyous lives, we must understand and develop a manner of living that demands rigorous honesty. We must expand our capacity to be honest with ourselves and others. We must leave no stone unturned and no demon untouched. We must clean out all of the shit that burdens our soul. It is the only way we can move forward and live a life that we love. Getting honest is the only thing that sets those of us still living apart from Madison.
Madison is just one more cautionary tale of what happens to addicts when they don’t stay vigilant in their recovery and get brutally honest about who they have been and where they want to go.
*Name changed to protect the anonymity of the deceased.
Post by Jennie C
About Choice Recovery
Choice Recovery is an addiction treatment facility offering outpatient services in person and online. While we believe in the 12-steps and support their place in recovery, we understand that each individual that enrolls in the Choice Recovery addiction treatment program is unique and requires specific supports and resources. For this reason, our integrated approach creates tailormade treatment plans for every individual so they can build a foundation for long-term recovery.
Choice Recovery is located on the Mesa/Tempe border in Phoenix, Arizona and accepts AHCCCS insurance including Mercy Care, Banner University, United Healthcare, and others. We offer morning and evening IOP services with group and individual sessions as well as life coaching and case management. Please call us at 480-527-0337 or email us at email@example.com.