There is quite a bit of debate in recovery circles as to wether relapse is a part of recovery. Now speaking strictly for myself, it is a part of my story and i do believe it was also a part of my recovery. I am very much of the opinion that recovery is not a positive or negative value, sober or not sober. I am of the belief that recovery is a life long journey, not all that different from the journey every one goes through as far as personal growth, wether they’re an addict or not. My relapse helped me see the stumbling blocks that kept me from living a happy and meaningful life, which were that much more apparent having been in recovery for a period of time and having that insight that comes with having had some degree of a 12 step experience.
I am of course by no means encouraging anyone to relapse, its just as possible to find those said stumbling blocks via a thorough 12 step experience and by means of a fearless and searching 4th step, or even utilize the collective conscious of experience that the fellowship has. But there is a cultural belief in some recovery circles that a relapse means you’re starting from scratch and i do believe that to be a fallacy to some degree. We might incur some unfortunate, unnecessary and sometimes tragic consequences but we do not unlearn the tools we picked up on the previous attempts. Our foundation had structural defects and that does mean we have to build a new one, have a new experience thats more meaningful than the last. In my case it was a deeper more personal connection to a higher power and those around me, and be weary of a superficial mechanical recovery that doesn’t reach deeper than the day to day actions we are supposed to take to be “sober”.
As long as we take stock of our mistakes and shortcoming and are consciously trying to better ourselves along this path of growth and recovery we can build new structures over the ashes of the old. The tradition of keeping time is a valuable and important one, creating a sense of purpose and progress that is so important early on. But we must not forget that none of us have anything more than today.