Relapse Prevention
with John Leadem, LCSW & Shawn Leadem, LCSW


Staying Stopped

If you have struggled with your powerlessness over your drug of choice, then the relief that you will have derived from abstinence in the past may have led you to believe that the hard part, stopping, was over.

In time, you will most likely discover that stopping was the easiest part of the recovery process. If you have not been introduced to the concept of the disease model for understanding addiction, it might be new information for...


Fear Will Not Keep You Sober

Many addicts do not think about strategies for preventing a relapse in the early days of recovery. This is because they are so close to the pain of their last drunk that they cannot imagine ever returning to active addiction.

We have heard many newcomers and relapse victims assert boldly that they “will never drink or drug again” because it is the furthest thing from their mind. They are certain that “to return to active addiction is...


Where Everyone Knows Your Name

Some of us grew up around neighborhood bar and grills that might have seemed like home because everyone knew our name, but that was far from the truth. The bond many of us at the bar enjoyed was facilitated by the altered state of consciousness we shared. After many years of sober living we still have never received a single call from the gang at the bar wondering how we were doing!

If you are grieving the...


There Is Only ONE Reason Why Addicts Relapse

Its true. There is only one reason why addicts relapse: To change the way they feel. That's the only reason. There are no other reasons.

Its kind of like plaque and bacteria building up on our teeth. That's the only reason we get cavities. Brush the teeth, prevent the cavities. So it is with addiction. Address the uncomfortable feelings, prevent the relapse. Just like tooth decay, it is a gradual process that can be intervened on and...


Every Relapse Follows a Predictable Path

Relapse in not an event. It is a process. The process is predictable and once it is learned can be clearly identified and successfully intervened on. An individual’s movement through the relapse process is progressive in nature and will always result in a return to active addiction if it is not interrupted.

Consider the following brief scenario:
John has just been informed that he is being terminated from his job. He feels angry, rejected and embarrassed (Uncomfortable Feelings)....


If You Reserve the Right to Relapse, You Will

"Progress not perfection"

We love this slogan. But we do not always love how some people apply it. Many will unfortunately use this slogan to justify that sometimes relapse just happens. "We do not need to be perfect," they insist, "we just need to not be as bad as we used to be."

We think this is a dangerous position for anyone trying to get a solid foothold into successful recovery.

But why? Some would (and many do) argue...

Prevention Strategies

Relapse Is a Process, Not an Event

Relapse does not just “happen” by accident and without warning. There is a process to every relapse, and the process (believe it or not!) can become very predictable.

Since relapse follows a predictable process, it follows also that relapse is preventable. That is why we insist that relapse is not part of recovery!

That is also why we insist that people do not lose their sobriety the way someone may lose a sock, or lose...


Getting Sober in an Unsympathetic or Unsupportive Environment

Disclaimer: there is never a good justification for relapse. Deciding to take the word “blame” out of your vocabulary may turn out to be the most important decision you make before finally experiencing the joys of life long sobriety. All the excuses for why you decide to relapse are really just that: excuses.

With this disclaimer in mind, here are some very important words of caution to those trying to get sober in an unsympathetic or unsupportive...

Prevention Strategies

Addiction Recovery is Physical, Emotional, & Spiritual

It has been said that there are three legs on every recovery stool: Physical sobriety, Emotional sobriety, and Spiritual sobriety. Think of the acronym

Failure to address any of these three legs will result in quite the shaky stool and greatly increase the likelihood of relapse.

Prior to formulating a relapse plan that will carry any significant weight, it is crucial to take a good look at each one of these legs on the stool...


Relapse is Not Part of Recovery

Actually, relapse by definition is a return to active addiction. Active addiction is not part of recovery. That makes no sense. The two are mutually exclusive.

It is a very dangerous sinkhole left open if you believe that a relapse is normal and to be expected.

You may get confused when you see other members of addiction recovery groups whom you have come to admire relapsing, but make no mistake, the hardship others face with relapse does not...