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"If I cannot do great things, I can do small things in a great way" ~ Martin Luther King, Jr.

12 signs that your disease is active. (For recovering teenagers on probation.)
Posted by:Lloyd Woodward--Wednesday, April 27, 2011

These are things that teenagers usually come up with after they are discharged from inpatient treatment.  They might be red-flags that a relapse is around the corner.  Sometimes I see these thinking errors crop up even before discharge.  A relapse can be set up before the  release from rehab.   There may be some shred of truth to all 12; however the disease uses these truths to move people away from recovery and closer to relapse. 

(1) You decide that meetings aren't helping. You believe that meetings only make you want to get high. You tell your PO that you shouldn't have to go to meetings anymore because you aren't getting anything out of them.

(2) You decide that it's OK to be with friends that use as long as they don't use around you. You tell your PO that your old friends are no problem.

(3) You decide that your PO and your parents know almost nothing about recovery and that anything they have to say is unimportant. You've decided that people in "the rooms" are the only ones you have to listen to. You tell your PO and parents to "quit trying to work my program for me."  "I don't want anyone telling me how to stay clean.  Are you a drug addict? No. So you don't know anything about it do you?"

(4) You decide that staying in contact with old friends that you used with is OK as long as you don't hang out. Texting, facebook, phone calls, etc. are OK. You tell your PO that contact with old friends is no problem because you don't really hang out with them.

(5) You decide that the only rule you have to follow is to stay clean. All the other "rules" aren't important. "Just so they don't bust me with a bad urine," you tell yourself, "and I'm sure I'll be OK."

(6) You decide that you don't want to be one of those people that can't live a normal life because they are addicted to meetings. "They are in some sort of cult," you tell yourself "and I wanted more variety in my life."  You've been out of the rehab for 30 days but already you are afraid that you might become so addicted to meetings that you can't have any life outside of meetings.

(7) You decide that you'll make one big exception to the Old People, Places and Things rule. You'll date the opposite sex no matter if they use drugs because it's too hard to find a clean person to date. You tell yourself that it's OK as long as it's not drugs that you want.

(8) You decide it's too boring to be in recovery. It's OK to be clean and live dirty. For example, I can go to raves and not use. I can sell drugs and not use. I sneak out and be out all night.  I can lie to my parents about where I was.  I can shoplift.  I'm young, I can be a "player" and have several girlfriends or boyfriends and let them all think I'm "going steady" with them. I can do any of these and still have a strong recovery program going on.

(9) You decide you're different. You think, I'm not like other addicts and I don't have to follow the same rules or take the same suggestions.  When you go to meetings you focus on how different you are and you miss the similarities between yourself and other addicts.  For example, you focus on how much more drugs and for how many more years they used than you did.  You don't look at how much trouble drugs caused you and how much trouble other addicts had because of their drug problems.

(10) You believe that you "got this." You hated having to leave your home to enter into a rehab and you know you'll never do anything that will lead to loss of your freedom again. You are a 101 percent convinced that it's going to be that easy. No need to worry about it any longer. After rehab you're sure you don't even want to get high anymore.

(11) You decide that you are expert at knowing if and when you need to go to a meeting. And you'll go, IF you need to.

(12) You figure that being on probation is your big problem. Not your disease. In fact, it might seem to you like probation is holding you back from really recovering. You might think that if you don't finally get off probation you'll pick up a drug for sure!

For Parents:  I think it might be helpful to review these with the teenager while he is still in the rehab. Ask him to pick which of the following might apply. We are asking the teenager to know his disease well enough to predict his disease's next move.

For Teenagers:  Really, how well do you know your disease?  What's your disease telling you?  Can you predict your disease's next move?  Can you tell on your disease in discussion meetings, to your sponsor, to your recovering peers, or even to your parents?  What would your parents say if you told them that your disease is trying to screw up your recovery by telling you _____?

In recovery thoughts like the above are normal.  It doesn't mean that anything is wrong IF you are telling on your disease to other people and if you keep reminding yourself that you can't figure everything out by yourself.  Staying clean takes hard work and it takes help from others.  Your disease wants you to think that you are strong enough to do it all by yourself. Share


Anonymous said...

How absolutely timely and relevant! I will make a point to discuss this with my son this week-end while he is on a home pass in preparation for his pending discharge. Thanks!

Lloyd Woodward said...

Thanks Jane. I think there is some overlap, like the 5 and 8 (urine clean rule.) Also, 1 and 6 are both about pulling away from 12-step meetings. I guess that what I like is that this list could generate a conversation that would make things a little clearer as to where trouble might come from if it comes. Usually, it will come too. If we tell our oppositional defiant teens that we expect trouble of one sort or another along these lines, they may choose to surprise us and not come up with any of these.

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Wilma said...

I'm glad this post popped up in my e-mail today. We had a visit yesterday with my son and he AGAIN said that he is going to to hang out with his old friends and that he can do that and not use with them. He says that of the people, places and things and he doesn't have to stay away from the people. He isn't on probation but is in placement through ACT 53. I am going to try and bring this up at our weekly family meeting with his counselor. I also like Jane's comment about bringing it up on a home visit. He may have a home visit this week although he told us yesterday he may not get it as he had a couple tiers (rule infractions) at his rehab.
Thanks again for the post.



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