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 Post subject: IS RELAPSE INEVITABLE?
PostPosted: Fri Apr 12, 2019 5:40 pm 
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Location: UK
Based on the experiences of the forum users, is the relapse of SA's inevitable? Are we, the partners, always to be on our guard? Could years go by before a relapse, I mean is it ever something truly out of their system?


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PostPosted: Sat Apr 13, 2019 7:38 am 
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Joined: Sun Sep 14, 2014 1:34 pm
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Brighid - Jon made helpful points about relapse. It is not inevitable. If they are sincere and work on their recovery, they won't relapse. But, sadly, it is common. I don't believe my husband has relapsed during these last six years, but I do believe he had lots of slips in the first years and still engages in slippery behavior. I also believe that over time his awareness of what was addictive behavior expanded so that the less overt acting act was something he needed to stop.

And we know that they can relapse after years of sobriety. Jon talks about their need to never become complacent. They need to continue to monitor their emotional well being and to adjust early when they start to go off the rails. So complacency is a risk. I also think some of the long term relapses I hear about are examples of addicts who were not fully recovered. I think some were white knuckling it and just caved. Some I think were just getting better at hiding their addiction and had progressed so that the relapse was really just a discovery.

I think the painful reality is they are always at risk. I think if we stay, we need to be aware we are in a relationship that will forever be in recovery. That is, our partners will need to be aware and committed to staying sober and more importantly creating a healthy way to live for the rest of their lives. Another way to say it, is they need to be committed to their personal growth until their last breath. And, we have to be aware to pay attention to our gut feelings and to assess our partner's maturity, emotional equilibrium and commitment to a healthy lifestyle.

dnell


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PostPosted: Sat Apr 13, 2019 8:46 pm 
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Joined: Wed Nov 14, 2018 6:26 am
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Location: UK
dnell, thanks for that :)

My husband feels his biggest risk will be complacency and has become very aware of the importance of self monitoring and what to do if this begins to happen. Whilst I believe his determination in following this path, I do suppose there will always be a niggle that he may not.

Whilst it makes perfect sense to always stay on our guard, I do find it deeply sad. Maintaining a loving relationship is hard enough without that particular addition, and this makes me completely understand why some partners choose NOT to stay in the relationship.


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PostPosted: Mon Apr 15, 2019 7:08 am 
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Joined: Fri Jun 17, 2016 1:39 am
Posts: 55
What is very difficult to accept for me is that
whatever I do, how much I show love/ care/ attention (or not), How deep I invest in the relationship (or keep it very light commitment), How much I'm vigilant etc...
the threat of a relapse will always be there.
This is very sad , and sometimes make me feel powerless.

I don't want to be forever vigilant , always on my guard .

Once I told my partner that in our relationship I can not do anything to prevent him from slip/relapse. And this is the risk I'm taking by staying in the relationship. So if one day he slips/relapses, it will be 100% his fault. Because he can lie so well, that I may not notice anything. and It is not up to me to be checking on him and his recovery. I felt like "lighter" after telling him that, like I managed to shift back some of the responsibility I have tendency to carry for him.


I'm trying to keep up with my boundaries, to ensure I'm respected as a woman and as a partner. These boundaries helps me to feel more on control . And I believe they would help me to notice some behaviour change (like if he starts back to tell confusing stories about when he is back, what he is doing. or not making any effort for arranging time for 2 of us etc...)


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PostPosted: Mon Apr 15, 2019 8:20 am 
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Joined: Wed Nov 14, 2018 6:26 am
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Location: UK
Thank you ana13. I absolutely get where you are coming from knowing that any slip or relapse cannot be prevented by the partner no matter how totally wonderful we are lol! Personally, on the logical front I know this to be true, but unfortunately I think there will always be the low self esteem part of me that would think I was at least partly to blame. I will continue to work on that nonsense!

Yes, I suppose ultimately, in choosing to stay with our partners and hoping they stay in recovery will mean a lifetime's vigilance and something we just have to get on with.


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PostPosted: Wed Apr 17, 2019 11:08 am 
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Joined: Mon Jan 11, 2016 10:08 am
Posts: 189
I would say exactly as the others — it’s not inevitable but it’s possible, even after some years into recovery. I don’t believe my husband has relapsed but I do believe there have been slips and slippery behaviours, as ingrained/habitual ‘hangovers’ from addiction and a consequence of as poor judgement.

Complacency is definitely the enemy but I’d also say that addicts in recovery can start pushing at the limits of what Paula Hall describes as “iffy” behaviours. The difficulty is that even addicts in recovery can justify the iffy behaviours as ‘natural’ or ‘instinctive’ rather than recognising that they are in control, not some primitive brain function. The problem with addiction is that the reward pathways in the brain have been reinforced by years of repeating the behaviour that produced the high.

I’m not a gambler, for example, so advertisements and enticements to gamble have zero influence on me, but for someone who has developed a compulsion to gamble, they respond to the cues and invitations to gamble and some people find that it’s very difficult to resist. But for me, it barely registers. Sex and porn addicts are also susceptible to particular cues. Not just visual prompts but emotional triggers too, like stress, depression, etc. There’s no one thing that must be avoided, it’s usually a cluster of factors. Addicts need to learn for themselves what their vulnerabilities are, and they can be difficult to identify.

There is one school of thought, however, which says that relapses are important as learning experiences. I’m not sure that I agree with this. For people who relapse repeatedly, I can see that it’s worth asking why it keeps happening. I think some addicts use the ‘relapse’ excuse as a free pass. I don’t call that quitting. I don’t call it recovery. I call it addiction behaviour. As partners, I think we need to be very wary of communities who prop up this cycle of behaviour as a definition of being in recovery.

Relapses aren’t inevitable, but it happens, what is important isn’t so much the relapse behaviour but how it is handled within your relationship. If your partner admits to it, or volunteers the facts, that’s a much better sign than someone who denies it and gaslights you.


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PostPosted: Thu Apr 18, 2019 7:25 pm 
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Joined: Wed Nov 14, 2018 6:26 am
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Location: UK
Thank you for your input Blue In Paradise, it is much appreciated :)

I would agree with you about disagreeing that relapses are important as learning experiences. That sounds like something to be encouraged which in my view is totally unacceptable! And would also agree with you when you say that some addicts use the relapse excuse as a free pass and, yes, for us, avoidance of communities that prop up that type of behaviour should be avoided at all costs.

My expectations of my H are that if he even ponders slipping back into the dark side, he talks to me about it before anything happens. Nipping it in the bud, looking at what is prompting the issues, is the key. if only he had done this before.................


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PostPosted: Mon Jun 10, 2019 6:17 pm 
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Update: my husband admitted that he’d looked at porn again recently. More of a slip than a relapse by my definition but still, he deliberately searched for it and watched it and then realised it was not a good idea.

Here’s my gut feeling about it. I’ve long suspected he was vulnerable to relapse, not just because he has a long history of porn addiction, but because I don’t believe he has properly dealt with many of his peripheral issues, or gave much consideration about his “iffy” behaviours. I’ve long suspected he secretly masturbates and has at times sabotaged our sexual relationship because of it. I can accept masturbation if it’s aligned more with developing a healthy sexuality, which we all know addicts don’t have, otherwise they wouldn’t become sex and porn addicts. But I asked him to tell me if he started masturbating again early on in recovery, but he didn’t. He lied when I asked, so an opportunity to develop a healthier sexual relationship was lost. Also, some time ago I discovered some dodgy cookies on his computer which turned out to have a lot of videos of partially nude women in lingerie “dancing” suggestively, some were of two women “dancing” and touching each other — in other words, borderline soft porn. I said nothing. I filed it in my memory. Then there was a woman at his work, not quite an emotional affair but verging on some uncomfortable blurring of boundaries. He wasn’t entirely truthful about it either, not until several months after she had left. At the time he claimed he hardly spoke to her. And lies of omission about all sorts. What else? Compulsive objectification in public — you’re all familiar with that one. It seems that every addict has a big time problem with this. In his case, he makes no attempt to control it. He denies he does it OR he’ll say it’s “natural” to look. (Yes, look but shadowing someone around the supermarket is a bit more than looking.)

Although my husband quit acting out, he didn’t really deal with the various behaviours and beliefs that prop up the addiction. He dealt with some of the emotional issues that predisposed him to addiction but not the ‘live’ behaviours like secrecy, deception and objectification. So, eventually, he deliberately searched online for porn and found it. The positive thing is that he admitted it and we installed some additional blockers together. I’m not naive. I know how much can get through these blockers. Ultimately he has to take responsibility for his own choices. So it’s progress. Not perfect, but At least he admits to what he did.

OK. Do I believe I know the whole truth? Do I suspect he has minimised his behaviours? Was there more than once? Was there a build up, starting with semi nude or music videos or whatever? I don’t know. On the balance of probability, I would say that there is a fair chance that he gradually made himself vulnerable through his own “iffy” behaviours. He also bought a new phone with a bigger data allowance so he had an opportunity to view porn online that wasn’t there before because he only had a basic phone until recently. So it only took 1-2 months on the new contact before he couldn’t resist the opportunity. We’ve now blocked adult material on his phone. I thought he’d be over it, but I was wrong and so was he.

The recovery experts say it’s not “if” an addict relapses, it’s “when”. I suppose that’s the most realistic approach. I thought I’d be devastated or I’d be very upset, but I’m not. I’m feeling a bit unsettled now, it’s like a delayed reaction. I suppose I realise that as long as I’m with my husband, I’m always going to be with an addict. There’s no such thing as an ex-addict who can revert to being a non-addict who was never addict to begin with. The addiction can only be managed and controlled, but never eliminated. I don’t really know how I’m going to feel when the dust settles. Will I be caught up again in that cycle of reactivity or will it be business as usual with that streak of sadness running through me? Let’s see.


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