I Have Relapsed So Many Times

Readers Question Readers Question: (Name changed for privacy)
Stanton Peele Response by: Dr. Stanton Peele
Posted on June 23rd, 2013 - Last updated: January 30th, 2014
This content was written in accordance with our Editorial Guidelines.

Dr. Peele,

I have relapsed so many times but I went to Betty Ford and got 1 year 5 months clean. Then my husband told me to get off my insomnia med (Trazodone) and I did. Then he told me that in order to move back in the house with him and my daughter, I needed to be off the anti-anxiety pill hydroxyzine.

I spoke with my doctor and she told me NOT to do that right now but I insisted, made my husband my higher power and did it. I felt really bizarre but continued to stay off of it. Lastly, he told me to stop my anti-depressant Zoloft. Reluctantly I did and within 2 weeks, I fell into a hopeless state of mind, so much so that I used over it.

I now have only two weeks and feel terrible about losing my year and 5 months. My sponsor almost left me and said “maybe I’m one of those people who will never get it.”

I began taking my Zoloft again; I’ve learned I have to take care of myself. What do you think about my situation Dr. Peele?


Feeling Attacked


Dear Feeling Attacked,

What does it tell you when you have to fight Betty Ford tooth-and-nail in order to take care of yourself?

I guess you make the point — “See, your higher power can be anything” — in your case, your husband and your sponsor. But let me give you a little more respect than Betty Ford or 12-step programs do when I say 1) you have the power within you, 2) you already know that (“I’ve learned I have to take care of myself”), and 3) in order to do this you had to fight Betty Ford and your sponsor tooth-and-nail (“My sponsor almost left me and said maybe I’m one of those people who will never get it”).

Instead of answering your question (“What do you think of my situation?”), let me ask you one — What does this experience tell you about Betty Ford and the 12 steps?

Finally, let me address your preoccupation with your sober time countdown. That you regained your footing under your own steam is critical beyond anything else. In the same way, I don’t think you’re being helped by focusing on your months and days sober. That you regained…..

Please spread what you have learned from all of this to you sponsor, Betty Ford staff and graduates, and 12-step advocates everywhere.


Yours with appreciation,


Stanton Peele

Dr. Stanton Peele, recognized as one of the world's leading addiction experts, developed the Life Process Program after decades of research, writing, and treatment about and for people with addictions. Dr. Peele is the author of 14 books. His work has been published in leading professional journals and popular publications around the globe.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *