Addiction and Recovery: 8 Lessons from a Relapse


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In the 1978 film, “Ice Castles” (remade in 2010), a talented figure skater (Lynn-Holly Johnson) is close to accomplishing her dream of becoming a champion skater when a tragic accident renders her blind. She has to learn how to skate all over again. Especially poignant is the scene of her first competition as a blind skater. The crowd throws roses into the rink, and she needs the help of her boyfriend to pick them up.

The experience of relapse is like that.

I remember the day I stood up in a room of recovering alcoholics and collected my 24-hour chip of sobriety after years of staying clean and sober. It was humbling. But I emerged from that relapse a much wiser and resilient person.

“Fall seven times, stand up eight,” says a Japanese proverb. So it is with recovery from addiction, depression, or any ailment. We fall and, with the help of others, get up and start skating again. As painful as they are, relapses bear hidden gifts and teach us invaluable lessons. Here are just a few.

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