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About the Clock


Where does the Relapse Clock
come from?

After many years of working in the addiction field I have learnt to view the process of relapse as a journey that encompasses a period of time and travels through many phases. I introduced this concept to the group at the rehabilitation centre in March 2023 and during weekly sessions over a period of eight weeks, we began to look at the clock. To begin the journey around around the clock I drew a clock face and introduced the following: 12 o’clock represented relapse, 1 - guilt and shame, 6 - in a good place, 9, 10, 11 and back to 12 - (from an existing idea, cycles of addiction), pre-contemplation, contemplation, planning and relapse. This was our starting point.

(Fig 1, original artwork)

I am not suggesting that relapse is inevitable, but that the various hours on the Relapse Clock represent different aspects of the process of relapse.  Figure 1 demonstrates how we formulated our ideas and you will see some ‘mixed-up’ writing which was part of our process of beginning to finalise what the clock would look like.  I am conscious that relapse does not just ‘occur’.  In my experience, for most addicts, there is hardly ever an exact moment when they say, ‘F*** it’ and will start drinking or using drugs again, but rather it is a sub-conscious trigger.  If the addict could begin to understand the process a little more and how that journey has an impact on them and their addiction of choice, we can begin to put in place strategies that could help them to recognise this. This may then assist them in learning how they can pull back from struggling with addictive substances.

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