DEAR HARRIETTE: I have been sober for nine years. It was a struggle in the beginning, but now I choose not to drink or smoke weed, even if my friends are doing it.
After learning about Demi Lovato's recent relapse after six years of sobriety, plus plenty of other celebrities who seem to relapse after they have gone to treatment centers, I’m a little worried. My life was a mess when I was drinking and getting high, but I loved it anyway. I think I have gotten far enough away from the lure of that life, but I wonder: If it could happen to someone like Demi, could it happen to me? -- Clean and Sober, Dallas
DEAR CLEAN AND SOBER: As you know, staying sober is an active choice that you make every day. Statistics suggest that people who have been sober for five years or longer have only a 15 percent relapse rate. In other words, they usually stay sober.
That said, remember what you learned in early recovery: People, places and things are what you must look out for. Be mindful not to put yourself in situations that could trigger the desire for you to reignite bad habits. Stick with positive people whose values you share. Get counseling if you need support. You can always go to an Alcoholics Anonymous or Narcotics Anonymous meeting when you are feeling unstable.
For more information, read this article from Psychology Today: psychologytoday.com/us/blog/craving/201402/how-often-do-long-term-sober-alcoholics-and-addicts-relapse.
DEAR HARRIETTE: Last year I was at a party, and I was roofied. My friends told me that I went home with my girlfriends that night and they put me to bed, but I honestly couldn’t tell you what happened. I didn’t tell my parents because I knew they would worry, but I talked with a school counselor for some guidance. She told me I could involve the school because it happened at a fraternity house and that I should tell my parents, but I didn’t want to.
Ever since that party, I have been wary about going out at school. My friends have been trying to push me to go out, but I refuse to because I’m scarred by what happened. As my final year is about to start, I can’t help but think about that night. I know my friends are going to try and push me to go out, and I’m honestly petrified. I know I should face my fears at some point, but how? -- Roofied, Philadelphia
DEAR ROOFIED: I’m sorry this happened to you. Unfortunately, this is common practice at many college parties, which is why my strong recommendation is that you never take a drink from anyone. Instead, whatever you drink should come from a bottle or can that you open yourself. Literally drink only drinks that were unopened before they got to you. If you put your drink down, it is no longer your drink. This is true even if you are having a soft drink. You must open the can or bottle yourself. I understand why you feel nervous about going out to parties at school, but if you follow these simple precautions, you should be able to avoid this problem.
As far as dealing with the emotional aspect of what happened, you should tell your parents, even now. Plus, you should go to your campus psychologist and talk it through. Being able to talk about your feelings may help you to gain back your confidence.
(Harriette Cole is a lifestylist and founder of DREAMLEAPERS, an initiative to help people access and activate their dreams. You can send questions to firstname.lastname@example.org or c/o Andrews McMeel Syndication, 1130 Walnut St., Kansas City, MO 64106.)