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Is a Lapse in Drinking Alcohol a Relapse?

by | Stop Drinking Alcohol | 4 comments

Today I wanted to talk about whether a lapse in drinking is actually a relapse.

This is from a message that I got through email.

This guy actually says:

“there is a lot of so-called experts out there, who many have never had a problem with alcohol, that widely put out the theory that a lapse doesn’t mean to have a relapse.

We both know that’s bullshit. So many times I tried to quit and thought “ah fuck it! I’ll lapse tonight then carry on tomorrow.”

I know very well from experience that this is simply bullshit.

As whether you go one month, three months, one year etc, etc;

Once you have that, just one night of drinking, the whole commitment just falls to pieces.

It maybe a week or two weeks or whatever before the process very quickly lands you back to square one.

And you have to start all over again.

I believe this whole lapse thing is a complete myth, as I am sure you will agree, but hearing from your words will not only make a huge difference to me but I’m sure many others who also listen.

These so-called experts, with no actual experience themselves, are the problem.

It would be really good, not just for me, but for others if you could point this out in one of your future videos.

A commitment is a commitment and once that seal is broken it’s broken.”

So there’s a couple of ways of looking at this

From the first perspective, yes, you’ve made a commitment at the beginning, you’ve made that commitment to go forward, you’re not going to drink anymore.

And making a commitment to yourself is one of the strongest things that you can do to keep yourself going, right?

But the second thing is that once you make that commitment – if you actually make a mistake and you take a drink – you don’t know what’s going to happen in the future. You don’t know how you’re going to deal with certain situations and mistakes happen.

People actual do go into making a mistake and they have a drink and you can’t look at this like it’s an all or nothing proposal.

So what I’m talking about there is, if somebody says:

“Well I’ve had this drink now, that’s it. I might as well drink for the rest of the night” or;

“I’ve had a drink now and it just proves that I’m a failure” or;

“I’ve had a drink now, might as well drink for the week” or;

“There’s a party coming up now, so I might as well stay drinking now until that party”

That’s where the danger lies.

It’s not in having the single relapse

The single relapse could be just a sip.

It could be just that you are going down to the shop and you’re overwhelmed and you’re in a bad mood and you buy a bottle of wine or you buy a six pack of beer.

You have to remember that there’s a lot of stages right, between you thinking about it and thinking about -“Well. I’d love a beer now.”

And actually going down and going through the whole process of buying the beer and bringing it back and opening it and drinking it.

There’s a lot of stages in between that, a lot of thinking stages, where you’ve got your own power to make the choice not to do it, right?

So you could actually go to the stage of even drinking you know, and taking a sip of alcohol.

You could drink a sip and then go “What I’m I doing? This is totally mental! This is completely against what I’ve done.”

And whether it is, whether you’ve taken one drink or, sorry; if you’ve taken one month, or you’ve gone two months, six months, or a year, or five years you know?

We can have these mental farts, mental brain farts, that just can happen.

Maybe something really bad has happened to you, or maybe you’re just under complete stress and this is your brain – is just telling you to do this thing.

What I’m saying is that just because you’ve taken a sip.

Just because you’ve had a drink even if you’ve had a drink for the whole night and you’ve got pissed and you’ve got the doozy of a hangover the next day.

It doesn’t mean to say that you’re starting back from fresh again.

I’ve always said this, it is a stupid way of thinking about things.

Stupid from the sense that its self-defeating, you are defeating yourself.

If you go for six months and you’ve been counting those days up.

Six months is a long time.

And to actual say to yourself, if you’ve taken a drink, that, that six months doesn’t matter at all.

It doesn’t make any sense.

It’s irrational thinking, so what you’ve got to do is examine yourself

Examine where you are, think about things.

Educate yourself on what has gone on, you know, you’re the only one who can do that.

Learn by it and move on.

You’re not actually back at the square one again because you’ve gone a long time without having any alcohol and that’s a big thing.

Most people don’t do that.

How much have you learnt in all that time since you started?

That’s the point.

The days don’t make any difference at all, as in the number of days.

Counting the days don’t make any difference and getting to that stage where you’re thinking, “this is it, I am sort of back to square one again.”

That doesn’t make any sense.

So if you do have a lapse in judgment, think about it as you’ve taken a little slip of the road.

But you don’t actually magically go back to the beginning of the road, you get back on the road exactly where you’ve left it.

This is the only area of life where we think that by some magic force that because we’ve fallen off a little bit that we’re all the way back to the starting line again.

This is not a game, somebody else hasn’t made the rules up.

This is reality and in reality when you fall of any track – unless you fall down a cliff in which case your screwed – in reality, if you fall off any track you’re right there beside the track where you left it.

So you get back on the track and you continue your journey

And I’m not saying you have to think “well nothing’s happened and brush it underneath the carpet.”

You’ve got to think about it and you’ve got to think “why you are here, what got you to the place where you thought that having a drink was alright for you.”

But it’s this kind of thinking that stops people in the long term from doing many things in their life, not just this type of thing, not just drinking.

But, you know, somebody who goes on a diet for instance and they have a little slip and they buy a packet of peanuts or chocolate cake or something like that and they take one or two and then before they know it they’ve eaten the whole thing.

And then they think to themselves “well the diet is out the window now and I might as well just eat, because I am never going to be able to do this.”

“I can’t overcome the cravings and I can’t overcome this or overcome that.”

Life happens, this happens, life is just, it’s going to be one series of challenges after another.

That’s what makes life good, it whats makes life great, it’s what makes pushing yourself into the future great.

Because it’s these challenges that build you up as a person.

It’s these challenges in life which are the bones, the backbone and the foundations for any successful life.

If you have any comments about that, any comments or questions, leave them down below.

Go over to the website, sign up for the newsletter, there’s a video going out every day so you can sign up for that and you’ll get one email going into your inbox every morning.

“View relapses as learning opportunities, not as failures”

Until next time…
Stay safe
Keep the alcohol out of your mouth
Onwards and Upwards!

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  1. Jason

    Good point.

  2. Mick

    A very useful video.

    I have come close to relapse, about 2 months ago I even purchased the wine. Interestingly I purchased 2 bottles I wasn’t thinking just have a glass of wine with my evening meal.
    I managed to make myself pour it down the sink, I didn’t feel good about at the time. I also had more failed attempts at quitting than I can remember. so I was filled with doubt and disappointment, I cried. I was lucky and the craving past after a few days. It might have been hrs.

    I think the road analogy is spot on, but I think its probably best to think that you are joining the addiction road at the point you was on. Your not like a person having his first drink, where it will take ages to become addicted again, your subconscious believes alcohol is giving you a benefit. It will give you a benefit, it will expel the craving, unfortunately only for a short while, 30 minutes perhaps then you will need more drink, the next morning you will feel even more down because your body will release chemicals to counteract the effect of the alcohol, this chemical will stay in your system for 4 to 11 days that is the addictive trap. Alcohol temporally removes the craving and improves the negative mood it created, Because the alcohol works fast your subconscious believes its the cure. Because the big depression does not kick in for about 5 hrs your subconscious does not connect the two things. (consciously you know but not subconsciously)

    After 4 days you are probably back where you started. in that physically your body has got rid of the Dynorphin (a sort of pleasure killer) the chemical the body creates to turn down the artificial sensations of pleasure you get from the alcohol. The Dynorphin may be actually worse for you than the alcohol. It also stays in your system for 3 to 11 days. So everyday pleasure may not even register because of the high levels of Dynorphin. If you drink again this will make you feel temporally better but and its a fucking massive BUT, your false subconscious belief grows even stronger. Once we drink to deaden a hangover/negative mood this teaches the subconscious the most damaging thing possible that alcohol can make us feel well no matter what. Once your subconscious knows this/believes this you are on a very slippery slope.

    You are not back where you started but it may feel like it for a few days.
    My own cravings have stopped, so I know they do stop. I was addicted to alcohol I am not proud of that, but I also know it wasn’t all my fault. I live in a society that brainwashed me from an early age. That brain washing has taken some undoing, understanding addiction has been a big part of undoing that brain washing for me.

    Good luck

  3. IrishAido

    Thanks for the message Kevin, and thanks Mick for a fantastically thorough response to the video.

    It’s weird….that bastard of a monkey has been slowly jumping on my back again. I noticed it 2 weekends ago, last weekend and now this bloody weekend. It’s really frustrating. I didn’t drink at all and am almost 4 months in now to a sober life, but it hurts sometimes. There’s the missus sitting next to me and she hasn’t a clue that this is going on in my head because I don’t want to worry her. Talk about a fucking mood killer if I came out and announced how I was feeling?! She’s worked hard all week and she’s enjoying a nice, relaxing weekend. There is absolutely no way I am going to mention it. So I sort of suffered in silence. I noticed I was hungry so I got some food and ate some ice cream afterwards and the monkey seemed to vanish. I’d hazard a guess here my brain was just looking for some sort of reward and my unconscious was linking reward to alcohol.

    Ultimately I am completely responsible for my intake and I know that no matter how much the monkey might pain me, ultimately it’s powerless because I am the one with the arms, hands and a gob! Nothing alcoholic goes into my body without me choosing.

    Thinking this way seems to alleviate the pain from the cravings quite a bit. It lessens my worry levels, but it’s just bizarre how it all reared it’s head particularly last weekend and then on Saturday evening. It didn’t stick around for long mind you. It was maximum an hour and then it dissipated.

    Today was easy as there is work tomorrow. I think triggers went off because it was a lovely evening on Saturday, the back door was open, we had a bit of classical music playing and yeah……just the thoughts of a glass of red wine were killing me, as if that would round off this perfect moment. The reality however is that wine was the very thing that caused me to enjoy those moments less because of what it did to me after a few bottles.


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