By Elizabeth Brico
Original Source: thefix.cim
Ticking off each day that I don’t take a drug requires too much focus on an aspect of my life that I am trying to leave behind.
Do you know your sobriety date?
If you’re doing the 12 steps, you probably have a collection of chips ticking off the years and months since your last use. You probably have a “birthday.” Even outside of the 12 steps, many people track their sobriety dates. It’s supposed to be a way to quantify and celebrate how long someone has been in recovery, and to recognize our accomplishments. But I don’t agree with that thinking. I don’t keep a sobriety date, even though I’m in recovery from heroin addiction. If you’re anything like me, maybe you shouldn’t keep a sobriety date either.
“Relapse is part of recovery.”
Heard that one before? It’s repeated all the time. I’ve lost count of how many counselors, peer support specialists, doctors, and random people have told me that “relapse is a part of recovery.” I get it. It’s true. Just look at how the National Institute on Drug Abuse defines opioid addiction: “a chronic, relapsing brain disease.” That means addiction to opioids causes long-term changes to the brain, which may manifest as behavioral recurrences throughout the life of the disease. Relapse is normal. In fact, 70-90% normal, according to several independent studies.