For every individual in recovery, relapse is a persistent and ominous threat. Once they’ve stopped drinking, the alcoholic would dearly like to believe they’ve banished the substance from their lives forever. Studies, however, suggest that more than half of all recovering alcoholics relapse at some point. In many instances, relapse is a temporary setback. Nevertheless, a relapse can be dangerous and is not something to be taken lightly.
There are a few reasons why relapses happen, and if those in recovery from alcohol abuse are aware of the risks, they will have a much better chance of avoiding them. For more information about The Right Step’s alcohol rehab center and available treatment options, contact us at 17135283709.
Why Is Alcoholism Relapse So Common?
Drinking is so prevalent and accepted in society and pop culture that many people who have alcohol use disorders don’t even realize they have a problem until it’s too late or their health starts to decline. With a bar in every town and liquor advertisements on television and even social media, alcoholism relapse triggers are especially difficult to avoid.
It is hard to stay away from alcohol permanently when all of one’s friends still drink and want to go out or when drinking suppresses negative feelings and has been used as a coping mechanism for so long. Alcohol is easy to get, some are cheap or affordable, and the stigma around drinking is not as bad as the stigma around abusing opioids. Sometimes individuals feel they can handle just a little taste or one drink just once to take the edge off, and before they know it, they’re right back into the cycle of relapse and addiction.
5 Causes of Alcoholism Relapse
Alcohol addiction is a permanent condition. Even when a person stops drinking for an extended period, they are never entirely safe. No two recovering alcoholics are precisely alike, but it is possible to identify some common factors that predispose a person to relapse.
1. Lasting Changes in the Brain
Extensive alcohol abuse causes changes in brain chemistry and structure that may take months or years of committed sobriety to undo. As long as these changes persist, the chances of relapse are enhanced, so recovering alcoholics should never overlook the neurological aspects of their conditions.
There’s a reason alcoholics who’ve stopped drinking are referred to as “recovering” rather than “recovered.” Complacency undermines many recovering alcoholics after the first few months of sobriety, and they may start to believe that maybe they can handle just one drink. They can’t.
3. Failure to Recognize Certain Triggers
In rehab, alcoholics and their therapists spend a lot of time working to identify potential triggers for relapse. For the uninitiated, triggers are reminders of past drug abuse that create new physical or psychological cravings. Triggers can include:
- People – Friends, family members, or acquaintances who abuse drugs
- Places – Locations where you used to get high or drink alcohol
- Things – Items that remind you of your addiction
- Times – Holidays or other special occasions when people traditionally drink
This process is essential for recovery, but it is not perfect. Some recovering alcoholics aren’t thorough enough or self-reflective enough to identify every trigger, and they don’t realize they’re vulnerable in certain situations until it is too late.
4. Overwhelming Stress and Anxiety
Some triggers are specific, but stress and anxiety are general problems for recovering alcoholics, and they can arise in new and unexpected situations. Recovering alcoholics can benefit tremendously from stress-relieving practices like meditation, yoga, tai chi, or massage. These mindfulness techniques can help defuse anxiety in a wide range of situations.
5. Unhealthy Recovery Environment
In many instances, it is not the particular circumstances or events but entire living arrangements that leave recovering alcoholics vulnerable to relapse. Dysfunctional homes or working environments are often associated with substance abuse, and recovering alcoholics who return to troubling circumstances may lose their resolve and gradually drift back into their old habits.
To avoid chronic alcohol relapse and learn to manage and cope with your triggers in a healthier way, consider enrolling in an alcohol addiction treatment program or relapse prevention program. Sometimes attempting to avoid triggers at all costs is not the most effective way to maintain sobriety. Occasionally, someone struggling with recovery must confront triggers in therapy or a support group.
Discover Effective Relapse Prevention at The Right Step
For each recovering alcoholic, relapse will remain a significant risk as long as they remain oblivious to the forces that can push them back toward alcohol. Awareness won’t eliminate the risk of relapse. Still, it will sharpen the emotional immune system considerably and give the recovering alcoholic a much better chance of resisting the urge to open the door when temptation comes knocking. Contact The Right Step’s knowledgeable staff today at 17135283709 for more information about our relapse prevention programs, or fill out our online form and let us get back to you.