Five Time Learner: A Veteran at Inpatient Alcohol Rehab

I have been to more inpatient alcohol rehabs than I like to casually admit in a regular conversation. But for the purpose of this blog, I guess I will just tell you. I have been to five different inpatient alcohol rehabs – all inside of three years, until I finally found the right one. It isn’t the third time that is a charm; it is definitely the fifth time that is a charm (LOL)! Or, at least, that is how it worked out for me.

These days, I like to tell people that I am not a failure. I’m simply a five-time learner. I usually get a chuckle or two in a room full of people in recovery when I explain my story that way. A lot of people who are in recovery do not like to think about the possibility of a relapse. However, it is absolutely critical that we consider the possibility of relapse. Without evaluating the possibility and planning the subsequent steps, recovery will never be long-lasting. The idea is to recognize the warning signs. Know what will trigger your temptation to use and more importantly, know how to avoid putting yourself in that situation entirely. Simple things like staying away from parties, or small social gatherings, where alcohol will be served. It can be easy for an addict to think, “I can just have one. I will be fine. None of these people know my history anyway.”

Keep your support system no further away than an arm’s length. When you’re thinking of using, or having “just one drink,” pick up the phone and drive to a meeting. Of course, these are all simple things to say and hard things to practice. They sound easy enough but the moment can turn to dangerous seconds, minutes, hours, days of your delicate sobriety. I know because I have been there. I’ve done my tour of inpatient alcohol rehabs.

Relapse does not have to mean that you are a failure. It is okay to ask for help – again. On average I have read that about fifty percent of drug and alcohol rehab patients relapse. Like any average, that means that some rehabs could have a relapse rate that is much lower than the average (like 30%) and some rehabs could have a much higher rate (like 70%). So it definitely pays to do your homework and try to go to the right rehab the first time! But if you don’t (like me with my 4 previous inpatient alcohol rehabs), remember that you are not alone, and the most important thing is not to give up. Remind yourself that maybe you didn’t fail; maybe the program you chose failed you. I assure you that the right program is out there. I know this is true because I am proof of it. So, keep chasing your sobriety, and don’t be afraid to try another inpatient alcohol rehab, again.

Alan Z.