Reasons Why Recovering Alcoholics Relapse
Alcohol use is a prevalent occurrence throughout society. In the United States, it is a common and typically accepted practice for men and women over the age of 21. And while many individuals can consume alcohol occasionally without experiencing any adverse effects, there are some who become trapped in an ongoing cycle of abusing this substance. The addictive properties of alcohol can cause the onset of a turbulent pattern of use that quickly wreaks havoc in the lives of those who become dependent on it.
The challenges that an individual faces once he or she has become addicted to alcohol can seem overwhelming. So when an individual makes the brave choice to enter treatment in order to overcome his or her addiction, it should be encouraged and celebrated. Making the lifestyle changes necessary to achieve and maintain sobriety can be difficult, and it can take a great deal of dedication on the part of the individual who is battling the addiction.
However, engaging in and completing a treatment program does not mean that one is cured of his or her addiction. Instead, recovery is a life-long process that one must work at every day. For this reason, when individuals engage in programming at a reputable addiction treatment center, the professionals providing their care should provide them with a thorough discharge plan that will outline things that they can do that will allow them to be successful in maintaining their sobriety once they have left the treatment setting. Without access to ongoing supports, individuals are at a heightened risk for experiencing a relapse into alcohol use.
A relapse occurs when a person has refrained from consuming alcohol for a period of time, but then uses the substance once again. Relapsing is not an uncommon occurrence during recovery, and it should not be viewed as a sign of weakness or failure. Instead, individuals can view it as a way to re-commit themselves to their sobriety and become stronger because of it.
There can be many circumstances that arise in an individual’s life that could potentially cause him or her to relapse into alcohol use. Examples of some such circumstances can include the following:
- Experiencing overpowering cravings for alcohol that one feels powerless to ignore
- Convincing oneself that he or she can have “just one” drink and be able to stop
- Being in a situation where one is surrounded by other people who are consuming alcohol
- Failing to take advantage of available support groups
- Experiencing significant stress that one does not feel capable of coping with
- Suffering from a traumatic experience that causes one to feel compelled to drink so as to numb him or herself from the distressing emotions that have resulted from that experience
- Getting divorced or separated
- Losing a loved one
- Suffering from symptoms of a mental health condition
How to Prevent Alcohol Relapse
Everyone will experience negative circumstances throughout their lifetimes. The key is to know how to handle these situations and seeks out supports when they occur so that individuals do not turn to alcohol in order to alleviate their distress.
Another unfortunate reality is the fact that alcohol is everywhere. It is nearly impossible to avoid it altogether. Walking through a grocery store, attending a friend’s birthday party, or meeting colleagues for a business dinner can all present individuals with access to alcoholic beverages. As a result, individuals must be confident in their recovery and must be dedicated to using the tools they learned while in treatment in order to prevent themselves from succumbing to temptation.
The following are suggestions as to ways that temptation can be overcome and relapse can be prevented:
- While participating in a treatment program, ensure that you work with your treatment providers to explore all options for continuing care services.
- If your treatment center does not provide you with a thorough discharge plan that includes options for aftercare services, contact a mental health or addiction professional to receive guidance.
- Review your plans for maintaining your sobriety with close friends and family members. Express your desire to remain committed to your recovery and ask them to help you and hold you accountable.
- Remain diligent in practicing the coping skills and relapse prevention tactics that you learned while in treatment.
- Attend support groups or Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) meetings within your community. Be an active part of those groups and attend them regularly.
- Find a sponsor who you feel comfortable with and remain in constant contact with him or her.
- Consider becoming a sponsor yourself, as doing so can help encourage you to remain committed to your sobriety and hold you accountable to sustaining your recovery.
- Make a conscious effort to avoid situations where alcohol users will be prevalent. If you cannot avoid a certain situation, ask someone close to you to help you avoid temptation while there.
Should a relapse occur, do not feel as though you have failed. It is a setback on your journey, but it can be reversed. If you feel as though you are struggling with your sobriety, or if you have experienced a relapse, seek out professional treatment. There is no shame in asking for help.
If you have any questions about treatment options, continuing care options, or ways in which to prevent relapse, please do not hesitate to contact the professionals at Life Healing Center. Our dedicated and compassionate treatment team is ready and willing to help you in any way that we can.