Everywhere I look, I see relapses; how not to worry too much?

Discussion in 'Substance Abuse' started by SuZir, Aug 24, 2012.

  1. SuZir

    SuZir Well-Known Member

    My kid is back to being a PITA after great summer. But issues seem to be mostly other than addiction based. And he hasn't slipped in last year. He even got himself over very rough patch for him last spring without relapsing and using skills he has been thought in therapy very well. And it certainly doesn't help anyone for me to worry about relapsing, but I can't help myself. I try to be rational, try to remind myself that there is nothing I can do, that few relapses or slips are likely to happen with difficult child but even that would not be the end of the world, that he in fact has slipped surprisingly little and with little damage.

    But everywhere I look, there seems to be just people relapsing and that makes me feel hopeless. Both here, in my real life and with some local celebrities whose life I have been following have had a lot of relapses this month. I don't know why this is hitting me so hard just now. Especially hard hitting have been those two local celebrities even though I don't personally know either. Both are/were top athletes and because of my difficult child I tend to pay more attention to troubled athletes, how they are doing, how they are treated by teams and organisations etc.

    Other one was my childhood idol. I had his posters on my wall. After his career he has been miserable drunk, worse than most. Even during his career he was a total difficult child, he has severe ADHD and learning difficulties and has been alcoholic for a long time. He is also a violent drunk. Very common and sad story shared with many people in every bar. Except he happens to have several Olympic gold medals and he was arguably the greatest athlete his sport has ever seen. His life has been disaster after disaster for a long time and every disaster has been on the front pages of our tabloids. But last two years were good for him, maybe best he ever had. He was sober and productive, finally getting some sense to his life. Until he relapsed this week.

    Other one is younger. He had all the promise, but never made it to Olympic medals (wasn't far though, fourth at best.) Did give us sport lovers many great moments anyway. He also has problems with alcohol, but it is clear that is not all. He haven't published his diagnosis like that my childhood idol did, but it is very clear he has severe social issues. Either something on autism spectrum or social anxieties, maybe both. He is apparently also intellectually gifted. Reminds my difficult child quite a lot in some ways, but seems to have even worse problems. Of course my difficult child still has time to develop his to worse, this kid was still doing okay in my difficult child's age. This guy is deadly afraid of reporters, at times couldn't say a word in interviews, at times literally run from reporters, couldn't keep any kind of eye-contact etc. Reportedly he also had a lot of problems with his team mates (his sport is individual sport, but like most individual athletes he actually had to spend more time with the team mates than guys on team sports have to. Social relationships in individual sports are often even more difficult to handle than in team sports as odd as it may sound.) Also he was doing very well after rougher times, everything looked very good and then - relapse, and everything in drain. I feel so bad for his parents who have given their all, same with other people who have done so much to help him, even if our sport federation is not getting too many points on handling his situation. But many coaches etc. have really tried so hard with him.

    All this just makes me so sad and helpless and at times it is difficult to believe my difficult child could be the one who actually makes it through.
    Last edited: Aug 24, 2012
  2. Calamity Jane

    Calamity Jane Well-Known Member

    I'm glad you posted this, because you read my mind. In my own life, my difficult child has been home from college after a disastrous first year, and has really worked hard and has tested clean, and has been going to therapy, and really working on family relationships. Next week, we bring him back to school, and drop him off. How am I not going to worry that he'll get involved with the same old thing and ruin everything? I'm already bolting up out of bed for no reason in the middle of the night, and he's home and doing fine!
    I guess the bottom line, Suz, is we can worry all we want, but it's out of our control. We can continue to support and encourage, but they make their own decisions. We are not puppeteers and they're not our puppets. They must live with the decisions they make and we are on the sidelines cheering them on to do well. Problem is, there's always other folks on the sidelines cheering them on to do bad things. Hopefully, with the guidance, expertise and experiences they've had, one day at a time, they'll make good choices.
    Here's the crux of my significant worries: I personally was always a religious person - not in the didactic sense, but I've always felt touched by God and have a very strong faith. I've been part of my religious community all my life and have a strong sense of fellowship with them and a personal feeling of love and devotion toward God. It's just me, and I don't push it on anyone. My kids, however, are their own persons, and although they went to Catholic school for many years and went to Church, etc. they haven't yet exhibited that connection at all. The reason I'm saying this, is that I worry especially that difficult child does not have a strong foundation of faith to uphold him in times of great difficulty. I fear that without that foundation, he will sway with the wind and only rely on himself. So I acknowledge that you can lead a horse to water, but you can't make him drink. Every individual is on a personal journey and we won't ever stop worrying about our family, because we love them, but we just have to recognize that they are separate entities influenced by many many things, and must learn for themselves. Sometimes a slip prevents a fall...hopefully they won't slip or fall, but they're adults and must live with all their own consequences, just as we do. That doesn't mean they won't break our hearts, though.
  3. recoveringenabler

    recoveringenabler Well-Known Member Staff Member

    SuZir, I'm sorry you're worrying so much about your difficult child's possible relapse. I understand your worry. I recall you mentioning in another post that you have been a "crisis manager" taking care of difficult child's since you were very young. We share that job description and I have also been a raging worrier often about things that never came to pass. As you know, worry is based in fear, and fear keeps our bodies stuck in a stress mode which is debilitating. It's worth it to find ways to stop the relentless worry because it robs us of the present moment and keeps us stuck in a crisis mode. I believe you mentioned that you presently have time on your hands too, which can produce more time to find more to worry about.

    I've done a lot in the last 20 years to stop that pattern in myself because I became aware of just how unproductive and in fact, really bad for my health worrying actually was. It seems that it's become a way of life for you now, given all the difficult child's. Perhaps you could utilize your free time to research ways to help you stop worrying. Since we can't control others, you can't control what your difficult child does, it makes more sense to change our reactions to the stress in our lives. What has worked very well for me is therapy, in particular for anxiety issues, learning Cognitive Behavioral Therapy which shifts your thinking; acupuncture (great stress reliever!), meditation, lots of exercise, vitamins, changing my diet to avoid sugar, alcohol, gluten, dairy, etc., writing, reading about how others have worked through their fears, massage, reflexology and quite a few different healing methods I came across in my travels. For me, it's been worth it to change that pattern in myself.

    It hurts to worry so much, I hope you can find ways to minimize that. My heart goes out to you, I know how you feel. Sending gentle hugs your way.......
  4. Nancy

    Nancy Well-Known Member Staff Member

    Suz there is a very good book that has helped me when my difficult child was newly sober. It's called Everything Changes by Beverly Conyers. We do live with the fear that our difficult child's will relapse because relapse is such a big part of recovery. But your son is now sober for a year and every passing day gives you more hope. The longer they stay sober, the easier it is for them to get back into recovery if they do relapse. The best we can hope for is that they take it one day at a time and each day builds on the last.

    My difficult child not only relapsed but is now in compete denial. I hope and pray that someday she gets back into recovery but for now I am taking care of myself.

  5. InsaneCdn

    InsaneCdn Well-Known Member

    Keep in mind that there are no statistics out there that track how many difficult children there actually are, and how many survive vs. how many crash and burn. People in public life have it worse - they crash and burn in public, too, so we hear about them. But many of the difficult children that do well... never hit the public eye. It would be interesting to know the stats... but I doubt we could even agree on a statistically provable definition of a difficult child!
  6. AmericanGirl

    AmericanGirl Guest

    Relapse is a part of recovery. Remember sometimes you have to go down to go up. The question is - what do they learn from it and how do they change?
  7. SuZir

    SuZir Well-Known Member

    Thank you everyone, you are more than helpful. I will try to get that Conyers's book to my hands.

    And you are right InsaneCdn, we indeed tend to hear about people who crash and burn and those who are able to make it, tend to remind more silent about it. But of course there are very inspiring stories you hear at times. For example one very highly thought surgeon (considered one of the best knee surgeons around here) who fixed my knee, and did an awesome job in it, is an ex-con (spent several years in and out of prison for joyridings, other crimes etc.), was alcoholic (started before he even hit his teens) and graduated from High School when he was 26 and in prison. Has done very nicely for himself after that. And really is one of the leading experts in this area when it comes to knees, shoulders and (sport related) injuries in them. But yeah, mostly those keep their stories on themselves and you just hear the sad ones.

    AG, treatment program my difficult child follows strongly emphasizes relapses more as learning opportunities and not something that would throw you back to start. They for example don't really encourage to count sober days and certainly not to start again from zero after slip or relapse. It's seen more as a process and slips and relapses are expected and an emphasize is on how to deal and learn from them and move forward and handle the same situation better next time. That is also a mind frame I try to keep. For my difficult child gambling was in many ways a coping mechanism, now he is trying to learn better ones. Gambling wasn't working well for him in long term (doesn't that sound very nice and clean way to say, that it turned him lying, stealing, shamming, selling his dreams, his honour and all his positive relationships, no sleeping, compulsively gambling, angry, disgracing shell of the person?) and now he is looking for better options to deal with same fundamental issues he has.

    Recoveringenabler, Thank You so much! You post made me tear up. You really hit the nail with this and I appreciate it more than I can describe. And you are right, it is something I have to learn out of. To learn better ways to react, to take care of myself and not let these things to define me.

    I do admire a journey you have done even in the relatively short time you have posted here (I was a long time lurker before I signed up, I have read you posts from the time you did sign up.) It is amazing and I do hope I can get to that place some day.