Relapses with alcohol, how to prevent them?
On this occasion we would like to take advantage of the December holidays to speak again about alcoholism and more to people who are in recovery and thus avoid the temptations of these dates such as Christmas and the end of the year since there are many temptations for an alcoholic in Recovery.
First, it is important to rethink what is meant by relapse prevention, since there is no way to completely and infallibly prevent a relapse from occurring as they are a natural part of the recovery process. So, throw that idea out the window, success does not mean never relapse, success is about having a life free of drugs and alcohol , with the help of professionals from the rehabilitation center you attend to overcome this addiction.
Instead, focus on ways to decrease the likelihood of a relapse. By changing the focus, you leave room for the acceptance of a relapse. By doing so, you increase your chances of dealing with relapse in a productive way, rather than spiraling into a greater relapse because you feel like you’ve completely failed.
The following discussion should help you better understand relapse, its role in the life of a recovering alcoholic, and ways to decrease your chances of relapse.
According to the National Institute of Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, approximately 90% of all alcoholics will have at least one relapse within four years of treatment. That’s 9 out of 10 recovering alcoholics. Amazing right? Well, we must bear in mind that alcoholism is a chronic disease, which means that it can be treated but cannot be cured. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, compared to other chronic diseases (such as hypertension and asthma), the rates of relapse from addiction are not higher.
We should avoid feeling guilty if we have a relapse , why ?, take a look at this simple example: If a person with diabetes had a relapse, they would not declare it a failure and would abandon treatment, they would work with their doctor to change their current treatment or to restore a previous one . That is why relapse should be seen as something natural, so do not despair or lose hope if it happens to you.
There isn’t a single cause of relapse that can be pinpointed, but researchers have focused on a few areas:
- Impaired control (the inability to stop drinking after the first drink) is considered by some to be a factor in relapse. Research shows that people with increased alcohol dependence have a harder time stopping after the first drink.
- Other theorists point out that cravings are a cause of relapse. Some believe that the term craving is empty because it can only be identified after a person has become a victim of it and has started drinking. Others fully accept it and believe that the term refers to the conditioned response.
- When an external and internal signal combine, they can reinforce a desire or need for alcohol. The last group of theorists believes that the desire for alcohol is like the desire for food and that cravings vary in intensity and are accompanied by withdrawal-like symptoms.
There may also be physiological responses that trigger a relapse:
- Alcoholics, for example, salivate more than other people when they are placed around alcohol and are not allowed to drink.
- Alcoholics also have larger and faster insulin and glucose responses when drinking a placebo beer than nonalcoholics.
- The body sends out physical signals that can become a cause of relapse.
As with the causes of relapse, there is a lot of mixed and conflicting information on relapse impulse control, the method that works for you may not work for someone else, so we should try some techniques and see which would work best.
Relapse prevention models often show self-efficacy, the concept that your expectations about how to cope will really determine the outcome. It is a theory of self-fulfilling prophecy. For example, the difference between a drink (a lapse) and excessive alcohol consumption (a relapse) is affected by your perception and your reaction to the first drink.
Due to the concept of self-efficacy, expert behavioral scientists in people in recovery, concluded that relapse is affected by the collaboration of:
- High Risk Conditional Environmental Circumstances
- Skills for handling high-risk situations
- Self-efficacy level
- The expected positive results of drinking
If you can control one or more contributing factors, you have a better chance of preventing a lapse from turning into a relapse.
In a 48-episode analysis, relapses were more associated with the following high-risk circumstances:
- Social pressure
- Frustration and anger
- Interpersonal temptation
And last but not least, remember that you must organize your life in such a way that you increase your self-efficacy; Modify your lifestyle so that you can cope with these situations. You should also recognize and respond correctly to signs that serve as relapse warnings.
Make sure you have self-control strategies to reduce the risk of relapse at all times and receive therapeutic advice from professionals at the rehabilitation center of your choice, where they will help you achieve victory over alcohol if you do your part.