According to recent statistics, over 90 percent of alcoholics who enter treatment will experience some sort of relapse within the first four years. Despite these dire predictions and bleak outlook for those looking to free themselves from the clutches of addiction, there is hope for those who continue on the path to finding sobriety.
Why does relapse occur?
Alcoholism is a disease, not a bad habit. Brain chemistry changes during the period of time when an individual becomes chemically dependent on alcohol; over time, he must obtain it in order to function “normally”. Changing this brain chemistry will be a lifelong process as a person learns new habits, structures, and patterns to free themselves from the clutches of addiction. Some common factors for a relapse event include:
- Environmental stressors that continue to present themselves
- The need to cope with other conditions such as anxiety, depression, or chronic pain
- A desire to crave the euphoric feeling associated with alcohol use
- A lack of adequate systems of support and accountability
- One’s disbelief that life can return to a sense of normalcy after treatment
Regardless of the reason for relapse, the only way to move forward and experience life and healing once more is to focus on the positive, not the mistakes of the past. Keep the fire of growth and healing in your belly, and focus on these things as you seek to regain control over life once and for all:
1. Stop drinking as soon as possible
You’re in the middle of a relapse, and while it might be easier to feel sorry for yourself and to allow your addiction to spiral out of control once more, you need to stop those very behaviors that contributed to your addiction in the first place. Stop drinking, and begin to formulate a plan to get back on track once more; start as soon as possible to prevent additional damage to you, your loved ones, and your life.
2. Ask for help and support
No man is an island, and recovery cannot be accomplished alone. You’ll need to come clean, surround yourself with healthy people you can rely on and be accountable to, and run—not walk–to them when you feel the urge to drink again. Begin to open up, share your pain, share your stories, and as you feel the burden of these toxic emotions begin to lift, you’ll be less likely to return to your addiction for relief from pain.
3. Identify your triggers and work to remove them
What are your triggers? Is it anger…sadness…anxiety..uncertainty about the future? Is it the failures of the past and an inability to move forward? Social situations that would cause you to desire to drink should also be avoided, as well as those people in your life now considered a bad influence, as they are reminders of your unhealthy life. Identify your triggers and work to change them or remove them from your life altogether, all the while asking for help and staying accountable to those who wish to keep you on track.
4. Formulate a plan to avoid relapse again
With the help of family, friends, professionals, and a medical team, work to formulate a plan to prevent relapse from happening again. Identify triggers, put coping tactics and strategies in place, and dive deep into yourself to discover the roots of your addiction. In doing so, you’ll learn that there is life after addiction and that you can re-learn to live life much more authentically, experiencing joy and happiness on a daily basis.
5. Focus on gratitude….change that attitude
Refuse to feel guilty about what has happened; you can take responsibility for your actions without continually beating yourself up over past mistakes. Focus on gratitude for the little things in life, find reasons to be happy and work toward sobriety, and consciously work to develop more positive thinking habits so you can escape the cycle of “stinking thinking” that leads to addictions and substance abuse.
With these strategies in place, you’ll be setting yourself up for long-lasting success–a life free from the clutches of drugs and alcohol. If you find yourself struggling with substance abuse, there is hope. Reach out, let your loved ones know, and seek treatment to overcome your addiction. No matter where you are coming from, we have the knowledge, tools, and expertise to help you regain a joyful life once more. Call today at 833-820-2922 to get started on a journey toward a better life—you deserve it!