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 a death sentence” and they “really want to live.”

While it is a good thing to have a healthy respect for the power of your drug of choice, do not comfort yourself into believing that fear will keep you sober. It will not. Your commitment to abstinence is a beginning, but fear of returning to the past is not an insurance policy against relapse.

Fear will wane over time. The emotional antecedents that have historically led us to our drugs of choice will continue to build up during our early days of abstinence. Eventually “the twain shall meet” indeed, and our fear of relapse will be overpowered by our desire to use.

That is why learning about our emotional antecedents and developing new strategies for old challenges are of paramount importance in the early days of our sobriety and in the development of any relapse prevention plan. No one relapses “just because.” Getting help from and learning from others who were successful in avoiding relapses is important. What you learn from others who are successful in recovery can help you to “stay stopped.” There is a predictable process to relapse that can be learned through exploration and inventory that will allow you to rely on new insights rather than trusting that your fear will keep you sufficiently vigilant. This is good news, considering that fear will not keep you sober…