Due to the behavioural nature of addictive disorders, there is always the threat of relapsing when you have overcome alcohol addiction. However, while this may seem like quite a disheartening notion, being aware of the warning signs of relapse can be vital in keeping you sober for the long term.
Alcohol relapse can occur after any amount of time spent living a sober life; and, it must be remembered that relapsing is not a sign of failure, it is simply something that you have to work through as setbacks can always happen when you’re making large-scale life changes — such as becoming sober. If a person does experience a relapse, then it should be taken as a moment to learn from and build upon to forge another sobriety based in light of this experience.
However, on the whole, being aware of the warning signs an alcoholic is relapsing is also crucial to preventing a relapse before it can occur. Knowing the signs of relapse as well as what to do if an alcoholic family member is relapsing/on the verge of relapsing will help you, and the person in peril, to make the right changes to that person’s environment with a view to getting them back on the straight and narrow as quickly as possible — and with as little damage done to themselves and their environment.
Let’s first go through some of the key warning signs to watch out for with alcohol addiction relapse.
The Warning Signs
Increased Stress: Stress is a very common contributing factor to someone having developed an addictive disorder in the first place, therefore it is only to be expected that stress can also be a factor in someone relapsing. Stress is quite commonplace in a Lott of our daily lives, so it is always important to be aware of whether an alcoholic is suffering from increased stress/anxiety or is demonstrating rapid fluctuations to their general mood.
A Return Of Withdrawal Symptoms: Physical and psychological side-effects of alcohol withdrawal can return when an alcoholic is on the brink of relapse, and symptoms such as headaches, shaking, and paranoia, can all only further lead them to think that drinking is the only solution to these issues.
Loss Of Support Network: The loss of a support network (whether it be the family closest to the individual or the cancellation of a local AA support meeting) can often cause a person to turn back to old, negative ways. Support networks have always played a large part in addiction treatment, and that is quite simply because they are wildly effective at helping people to remain sober.
Exposure: Exposure to alcohol or old triggers is, naturally, one of the most frequent reasons why a person starts the slippery slope of drinking again. Being exposed to alcohol unexpectedly, or simply being exposed to old triggers, can cause an individual to think that they can “just have one drink” and that they’ll be able to control themselves this time — but this will not be the case.
Lack Of Faith In Recovery: Some addicts, due to personal reasons such as stress, can become disillusioned with how their recovery is going. This weakening of their resolve, combined with some of the above factors/issues may push them to give up on their recovery. If you notice someone talking disparagingly, even if done so offhand, about their sobriety then this is a clear sign that they may need help.
Changes To Routine: Routine and safe environments can be a large part of making sure that someone succeeds in maintaining a solid life of sobriety post-addiction. Therefore, if something occurs in a person’s life to put them out of their comfort zone, or suddenly shakes up their daily routine, then they may turn to alcohol in order to cope with this change.
What To Say To An Alcoholic At Risk Of Relapsing
Approaching someone about their addiction is something that should be done with extreme caution under any circumstance. However, if you are concerned about someone who you think is at risk of relapsing, or has already relapsed, then you should try to encourage them to reach out for professional medical attention as soon as possible. In some instances, you may want to reach out to other people who are close to the relapsing addict, family members, support workers, doctors, or their sponsor.
It is important to try and approach the individual calmly about their issue, you do not want them to feel as though you are attacking them as this can only cause them to resort to drinking more. Try to remind them that their relapse is something that can be overcome, it is not a failure and they still have the chance to live a life free from addiction.
How To Treat A Relapse
After someone goes through a relapse, they may find themselves experiencing severe guilt and elf-doubt. Much like when first trying to overcome an addiction, this feeling of shame can be the thing that prevents individuals who have gone through relapse from reaching out for professional treatment/help. However, with the help of friends, loved ones, and in some cases medical professionals then anyone who experiences a relapse can find their way back onto stable ground.
Some alcohol addiction treatment centres, such as Action Rehab, will also include relapse prevention planning in their addiction treatment courses. In instances where minor or large-scale relapses occur post-rehab, then it may be a case that you need to liaise with a medical professional about slightly altering, updating, or even conducting a refresher treatment to go back over your initial relapse prevention plan.
Furthermore, Action Rehab treatment plans also include a one-year aftercare programme, so if you have experienced treatment at our facility within the last twelve months then we may be able to help you through this relapse. If you, or someone you care about, have never attended a course of treatment here at Action Rehab, then that may be what you need. Call us today on 0151 268 6992 to find out how we can help you.