Overcoming an addiction to alcohol is a tremendous feat. Confronting one’s problems and seeking out the care needed to put an end to the abuse of alcohol is an immense accomplishment and should be celebrated as such. While participating in treatment, individuals learn to identify triggers, overcome their compulsions to consuming alcohol, and ultimately achieve an overall sense of renewed wellness. Completing treatment is a victory, but remaining on the path of sobriety requires continued work and dedication to one’s commitment to her recovery.
Due to the fact that addiction is a life-long disease that one cannot simply be cured from, there can be countless challenges that individuals face once they have completed treatment to overcome their addictions to alcohol. Temptations and triggers to use will never fully disappear, and it can require an immense amount of strength and courage to stay committed to one’s sobriety. For this reason, it is important for those who have participated in a treatment program to overcome an addiction to alcohol to engage in follow-up services once their programming has come to an end. There are an array of support services available, and by taking advantage of those services, individuals have the best chance of maintaining their sobriety for the long-term.
If a person completes treatment to overcome her addiction to alcohol, but then fails to engage in any type of aftercare or support services, she may be susceptible to experiencing a relapse. A relapse occurs when an individual succumbs to temptation and consumes alcohol again after having been sober for a period of time. It is important to understand that relapsing does not mean that one has failed. It is not a character flaw, nor is it a demonstration of weakness. Yet it is a challenge that many individuals in recovery face. By participating in aftercare services or engaging in support groups upon the completion of treatment, however, individuals are less likely to relapse. And, even if a relapse should occur, individuals still have the ability to become sober once again and remain confident on their path to lasting recovery.
Reasons Why People Relapse
There can be any number of reasons why an individual relapses and begins drinking again once she has completed treatment for alcohol abuse and addiction. Because alcohol is widely accessible and is a common, and even somewhat expected, practice for individuals over the age of 21 in the United States, the temptation to use can be seemingly everywhere. Examples of various circumstances that may cause an individual to experience a relapse can include, but are not limited to, the following:
- Being in a situation where others are consuming alcohol
- Experiencing significant stress in one’s daily life that she does feel able to cope with
- Suffering from overpowering cravings for alcohol
- Succumbing to the idea that one can have just one or two drinks and be able to stop
- Receiving troublesome news or experiencing a trauma where one feels compelled to drink in order to numb herself to the resulting negative emotions
- Experiencing doubts as to whether or not remaining sober actually matters
Most, if not all, people who have battled an addiction to alcohol have experienced these types of circumstances. Even if those circumstances did not cause the individual to relapse, the fact remains that doubts and temptations are everywhere, which provides further evidence as to why it is so important for individuals to engage in aftercare services in order to remain confident in their ability to remain sober.
How to Prevent Relapse
As was previously mentioned, should a relapse occur, it should not be seen as a failure; it does not mean that an individual is weak and unable to remain sober for the long-term. It should simply be viewed as a setback that makes the commitment to remain sober become stronger. Each day that passes by that a person refrains from taking a sip of alcohol should be viewed as a victory, and should be consistently celebrated.
While relapsing is a possibility for everyone in recovery, there are steps that can be taken that can help individuals avoid relapse. Examples of such things can include, but are not limited to, the following:
- Work with your treatment provider to ensure that you understand your options for continuing care and support services once your time in a treatment program has come to an end.
- Make every effort to participate in the recommended aftercare services that you are offered. Choose a path that is conducive to your lifestyle and your daily responsibilities, so that you have the best chance of being able to fully devote yourself to those follow-up services without being hindered by time constraints or other obligations.
- Discuss your continuing care plans with those who are closest to you. Explain to them your plans for how you are going to remain successful in your recovery, and ask them to support you in any way that they can.
- Join a support group or attend Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) meetings within your community.
- Locate a sponsor with whom you feel comfortable and are able to trust. Remain in constant contact with that individual.
- Remain diligent in practicing the coping skills that you learned while in treatment.
- Be adamant about avoiding places where alcohol consumption will be prominent.
- Avoid surrounding yourself with individuals who are regularly consuming alcohol and/or who do not support you and your recovery.
If you do relapse, do not give up hope. It is simply a setback on your journey, and you still have the strength to be successful in your recovery. If you have any questions about how you can prevent relapse, or if you have relapsed and need guidance as to how to get yourself back on track, please do not hesitate to contact the knowledgeable and compassionate professionals at Timberline Knolls today.