Dangers of Relapsing on Alcohol

Dangers of Relapsing on Alcohol

According to their website the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) seeks “to lead the Nation in bringing the power of science to bear on drug abuse and addiction. This charge has two critical components. The first is the strategic support and conduct of research across a broad range of disciplines. The second is ensuring the rapid and effective dissemination and use of the results of that research to significantly improve prevention and treatment and to inform policy as it relates to drug abuse and addiction.” To meet its mission, NIDA has supported extensive research in relapse to understand what causes and how to prevent it.

Stages of Recovery

Maintaining abstinence is a stage in recovery. In this stage, addicts attempt to avoid environmental situations that trigger cravings, recognize their personal psychosocial and emotional triggers and develop healthy behaviors to handle stress. It is critical for recovering alcoholics in this stage to maintain a recovery-oriented attitude, which they can do through humbly admitting their powerlessness to addiction and not taking abstinence for granted. In addition, a person in this stage must stay vigilant and participate in self-help groups.

Signs of Potential Alcohol Relapse

It is vital to recognize the signals, events or situations that risk relapse. In 1982 Gorski and Miller created a list that identifies the following 11 steps that will carry an addict toward relapse:

  • A change in attitude, in which the addict thinks she doesn’t need to participate any longer in recovery, or she changes her routine that signals a potentially stressful event
  • Elevated stress, as seen by overreacting to problems
  • Renewed denial
  • A recurrence of post-acute withdrawal symptoms (PAWS), which occur at times of stress
  • Changes in behaviors
  • Breakdown of social structure
  • Loss of daily routines
  • Loss of judgment
  • Loss of control
  • Loss of options
  • Relapse in which substance use is resumed

To avoid relapse, avoid these steps.

How to Prevent Alcohol Relapse

The key to preventing relapse is learning to manage negative feelings without using drugs or alcohol. Relapse is a process that begins well before someone uses alcohol or drugs again. Therefore, it is important to recognize in advance when you are headed toward relapse and to change direction.

Knowing what the warning signs are is the first step to avoiding relapse. The next step is to change any negative feelings. Some steps may include attending support group meetings more frequently, spending time with people who support recovery, maintaining structure in life and avoiding external triggers.

Help with Alcohol Relapse

While recovering alcoholics may perceive relapse as a failure, they are nevertheless fairly common, so don’t give up on yourself. Please call our toll-free helpline today; we are available 24 hours a day to answer any questions you might have about relapse.