Have you ever spent what feels like years writing a paper or typing something up, clicking away at the keyboard, only to lose it to the abyss of Windows when your laptop’s battery dies? In a split second, your hours of hard work and dedication disappear, leaving you staring at a blank screen in disbelief.

If you’ve ever been to a detox, rehab, 12-step meeting, or even met anyone who is attempting sobriety, you’ve heard the word relapse being thrown around quite a bit. It’s a scary thing for us drug addicts and alcoholics who have found a new way of life. Even the idea of it brings up fear of a past life full of destruction and toxicity. Horror stories aside, it means starting over. And for someone who has worked tirelessly to better myself, I know that any high isn’t worth the guilt and remorse I would experience afterward.

I’ve always applauded the people who can pick themselves up, dust themselves off, go back to their program of choice to admit defeat and feel the warm embrace of their fellowship. For many of us, it’s not so easy. Addiction of any kind is insidious. Once it’s tentacles are wrapped around you, one little slip and down you go, and some people fall hard. Our brains tell us that we want more, always, so it’s understandable to fear the slippery slope.

But for me, it was part of the process, and dare I say it, a blessing. I was able to come back into my routine of meetings physically pretty quickly, but emotionally it was harder. I felt detached from life and the people around me. I felt like a failure, but I had no other choice but to get back on my feet and try again. Was my relapse discouraging? Absolutely. Getting sober is not for wimps.

All that in mind, once I did come back, it opened up some really great opportunities for me. I got to see my program in action, and I learned a valuable lesson about having patience with myself. Changing your life doesn’t happen overnight.

Gratitude is an action word, and there is no greater cause for action than a slip-up. It means it’s time to refocus, redouble my efforts, and get back in the ring. My relapse brought me a much-needed change in perspective. It’s easy to lose sight of how precious my sober life is and that I have to work hard every day to make sure I keep it.

Relapse has also given me the opportunity to help more people through my experiences. When I come across someone who recently made a mistake, I have an obligation to let them know they are not alone.

So even though relapse is not a requirement for recovery, it certainly isn’t a failure. Recovery is a journey, not a race, and the more you learn along the way, the more enjoyable the journey becomes. If you have been knocked down, there is no time like the present to stand back up.

Parker’s practical, yet introspective approach to addiction recovery combines firsthand experience with real recovery solutions. He hopes to reach the struggling addict or alcoholic and their loved ones through his writing. Parker is currently the Digital Marketing Coordinator at Ambrosia in Palm Beach Gardens, Florida.