If you’ve been to alcohol rehab – or if someone you love is working on alcohol recovery – it’s important to remember that the quest always poses challenges. The effort it takes to surmount the challenges, however, is well-rewarded in the long term.
Recognizing you have a problem with alcohol and taking steps to get help in your recovery is one of the first key to success. Yet another key to success in the battle against alcohol addiction is the prevention of relaps.
At Moonlight Mountain Recovery, we help those who struggle with alcohol and drug dependence. Our support is not limited to only the time during which they are actively detoxing; we also provide resources and support as they learn to navigate a sober life.
Here are some of the warning signs you should look for to understand if you or a loved one is in danger of an alcohol relapse, along with some suggestions to help you cope.
8 Signs that Alcohol Relapse Is Close
The challenging thing about a potential alcohol relapse is that the signs aren’t always as apparent as we might think they are.
Warning signs of a possible relapse can be very subtle, so you always need to make sure you understand what to look for to clue you in. Some of the possible tipoffs that you may be heading toward a relapse include the following.
No. 1: Elevated stress – Life is rarely without stress, unfortunately. But if you’re going through a time of major changes or you simply feel little things building up too much, then you have to focus even more on your sobriety. Overreacting in stressful situations can exacerbate negative or positive feelings and those can lead to an increased risk of relapse.
No. 2: Attitude changes – If your recovery is not as important to you as it once was, no matter the reason, then that can be a warning sign that you’re mentally heading toward relapse. Many people have described this as feeling as if something was wrong, but they simply couldn’t pinpoint what.
No. 3: Withdrawal symptoms return – Symptoms of withdrawal (such as sleeplessness, depression, memory loss, and anxiety) often occur when you first stop drinking alcohol, but then wane as time goes on. During times of great stress, you might find these symptoms coming back — and that can put you in danger of self-mediating with alcohol.
No. 4: Denial – The reactivation of denial when it comes to relapse has nothing to do with your acknowledgment that you’re an alcoholic. Instead, it’s the denial of your current mindset. You may be trying to convince yourself that everything is OK when it’s really not. You may actually feel worried or frightened but, rather then act on those concerns, you dismiss your fears and fail to share them with someone else.
No. 5: Breakdown of social life – You might start to feel uncomfortable around other people and find yourself making excuses not to see them as you head toward a relapse. This often involves stopping support meetings you may have attended or cutting back on the meeting you do attend.
No. 6: Changes in behavior – Many people develop a daily routine during their sobriety that helps them deal with previous compulsive behaviors that led them to drinking. If you become defensive or avoid situations that you once relied on to help manage your addiction, then it could be a warning sign.
No. 7: Practicing poor judgment – You may start to have issues making healthy decisions for yourself or you may feel unable to relax or overwhelmed for seemingly no reason and become angered or annoyed easily.
No. 8: Tempting yourself unnecessarily – Sometimes people heading toward relapse tend to “play with fire,” putting themselves in situations that are unhealthy. Of course, recovery doesn’t mean you can never be around temptation again, but if you find yourself putting yourself in these situations frequently, you may need to question why. It may be because you’re having cravings for alcohol.
If you recognize the signs of a potential relapse – whether in yourself or in someone else – the key to avoiding a major setback is taking quick action.
Strategies for Helping to Avoid Alcohol Relapse
Every person in recovery should have a solid relapse prevention strategy in place.
This can help you to understand what you need to do if you feel on the edge of starting to drink again. Outpatient therapy is one of the strategies you can use before you even start to feel as if you’re being triggered by things in your life to start drinking again.
Outpatient addiction therapy for alcohol allows you to openly acknowledge and discuss your concerns, and a therapist can help you to work through emotional issues, stress, or struggles you may be experiencing.
During times of potential setback, make sure to surround yourself with people who support you. After all, you cannot be at therapy all the time, so it’s important to have a social network of trustworthy people you can reach out to when things begin to feel rocky for you in everyday life. Hopefully, you have someone in your life you can lean on a bit and talk to instead of turning to alcohol use. If not, community resources might be a reasonable alternative. Ask your counselor for suggestions and recommendations.
Self-care is also paramount. Healthy practices in your life will help you stick to goals you have concerning your overall health and your recovery. Self-care includes things such as getting enough sleep at night, exercising, practicing relaxation techniques such as deep breathing, taking a vacation or even simply taking some extra time in a hot shower. Ultimately, you must find ways to deal with life stress effectively, and self-care is one of the most important ways to maintain health.
Relapse is not uncommon, and it happens to many people. However, it is important to understand that it is preventable. As long as you understand the warning signs and take action, then your chances of staying sober improve greatly.
Remember, there is always a risk of relapse, no matter where you are in your recovery. If you’re worried, then reach out for help to the professionals at Moonlight Mountain Recovery. Our Boise alcohol rehab center offers evidence-based programs to help you get sober and enjoy the happy, fulfilled life you deserve.