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  • Writer's pictureJimmy Alexander

Backslide into Support

Updated: Apr 14, 2021

In the recovery community, the phrase backsliding refers to the condition of someone who is slowly (or rapidly) beginning to endanger their recovery. In other words, backsliding is when a recovered addict moves backward in their recovery. Backsliding does not necessarily mean a relapse has occurred, but it describes a slippery slope into old destructive mindsets, attitudes, and behaviors. Of course, if there is no immediate change or intervention when someone is backsliding, it will most likely result in a full-blown relapse.


Recovery is not easy. In fact, we are all recovering from something. There are always times of regression in any healing process. Failure is inevitable, but how we respond to it is vital. Everyone experiences different struggles, weaknesses, and addictions. To some degree, the most important aspect of failure is not how many times you’ve failed, because we all will make many mistakes throughout our lifetime. What matters most is how you respond to those mistakes. As Proverbs 24:16 says, “the righteous may fall seven times but still get up, but the wicked will stumble into trouble”. Our response to failure speaks louder than the failure itself. Bad decisions have consequences, but how we respond will have a greater influence.


If our response to failure is so important, then why is it so difficult to ask for help in seasons of personal weakness and failure? Why do we wait so long (until it’s too late) to ask for help and support? The answer lies in the sway of pride, guilt, and fear. Pride, guilt, and fear directly alters our judgment, motivation, emotions, and behavior. Pride keeps us from seeing reality, guilt keeps us in isolation, and fear keeps us from reaching out. Pride says, “What you're doing is not really that bad,” while guilt says, “You’re too far gone and a complete loser,” and fear shouts, “If you reach out for help, you will let people down and get into trouble.” These three powers that accompany backsliding are what makes asking for help so hard and rare.


Remaining in pride, guilt, and fear will inevitably delay us from reaching out for help. Instead of seeking support in your time of need, you are consumed with what people might think about you. Afraid that your “Doing great!” mask will be exposed. Discouraged that all progress will be lost if you admit to someone what you're struggling with. Scared that you will disappoint all those who have invested in you. Worse yet, your mind attempts to turn your best friends into enemies: “They are going to judge me! They will just try to control me! They are hypocrites!” If these things were true, then they are not true friends, nor are they true support to begin with. Instead of running to your best support system in genuine honesty, you find yourself running away from them in shameful pride. Instead of coming clean, you hide, hoping that you can change things in your own strength and your own secrecy. All the while (like sinking sand) your backsliding goes on longer and the addictive behavior grows stronger.


So what do you do when you backslide? The solution is backsliding into support. When you stumble, you must fall in the right direction. Falling in the right direction involves humility, vulnerability, and honesty- which are qualities that go against human nature. You must remind yourself that there are people who love you. You must remember that there is support available. And if you claim to have no friends or support- there are innumerous resources, people, and organizations that are willing to help (just ask us for resources)! But you will never see it, or experience it if you are backsliding away from support. The very reason support systems exist is to help you in your time of need, so that people can fight for you, care for you, and lift you out of the pit of despair. No one can fight alone, and we need reinforcement when times get tough. As Ecclesiastes 4:9-10 says, "Two are better than one... if either of them falls down, one can help the other up. But pity anyone who falls and has no one to help them up". That’s why loving friends and support is so crucial for long-term recovery, deep-rooted stability, and lasting sobriety.


When and if you backslide, fall into the arms of those who have your best interest in mind. Fall into friendship, encouragement, and consolation. Do not walk backward into deeper darkness, but rather, take side steps towards your truest friends. Will it be humiliating? Yes. Will people judge you? Maybe. Will someone be disappointed in you? Perhaps. But it’s better to experience a little discomfort now than to experience the disastrous consequences of continuing in a wayward condition. Those who find help never regret it. However, there are many regrets for those who wait too long to get help.


So, I say again, reach out for help! Then get back up, dust yourself off, learn from your mistake, and move onward in a joyful, sober life with a crowd of support around you. Seize the opportunity of life today, and don’t allow another moment to go by taking steps in the wrong direction- because it could cost you your life!


Above all these things, know this: there is a God in Heaven who is opening His arms to you. He can forgive you (1 John 1:9), make you clean (Isaiah 1:16), and enable you to overcome your addictive vices (2 Peter 1:3). Jesus Christ is the ultimate answer for our broken and sinful condition. He is patient, loving, merciful, and not wishing that anyone would perish, but that all would receive His life (2 Peter 3:9). And this Life is found in His Son Jesus Christ. He alone provides complete cleansing and redemption for every single backslide. Let’s be honest… All of us need a Savior because we are all backsliders! May the words of Hosea 14:4 be true for us today: "I will heal their backsliding and love them freely, for my anger has turned away from them".


If you are struggling, please do not hesitate to contact us! We desire to help you find support in your time of need. For more information, visit our website www.lazaruslife.org or email us at info@lazaruslife.org.

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