Giving up alcohol is, for some people, one of the most important decisions they ever make. It can be the beginning of a lifelong journey of sobriety and freedom from the devastating emotional and physical effects of alcohol dependence. But as with any journey, there are often challenges along the way—temptations, hardships, and moments of weakness—some of which could lead to an alcohol relapse.
Alcohol relapses are extremely common, particularly in the first few years of recovery. In fact, most alcoholics experience at least one relapse. But by arming yourself with the right information, you can reduce the chances of putting your sobriety at risk. Check out these tips for avoiding an alcohol relapse.
1. Know your triggers
Triggers are the events or emotional states that precede your desire to drink alcohol. They differ from person to person, but common triggers include anger, frustration, and social pressure. Evaluate your own triggers – what usually happens just before you get the urge to have a drink? By identifying these situations ahead of time, you’ll be ready to address the warning signs and intervene before you give into your cravings.
2. Avoid the temptation to start drinking again
Because social pressure is a common trigger for relapse, it’s important to steer clear of spaces where you know people will be drinking alcohol. Don’t hang out in bars or go to raucous parties. If your drinking buddies are still up to their old habits, find a new group of friends to spend time with. And don’t keep alcohol around your house – if it’s readily accessible, it’ll be easier for you to slip up.
3. Go to alcohol therapy
When you first get sober, a therapist may help you establish new habits and patterns of thinking. Once you’ve accepted sobriety as your new normal, you may think you don’t need your therapy sessions anymore, but it might be best to cut back on the frequency of your visits rather than stopping them altogether. A therapist will help you navigate the difficult times – and there will be difficult times – to ensure you always have the proper tools to avoid an alcohol relapse.
4. Find distractions to take your mind off drinking
If you’re sitting around the house, fixating on an alcohol craving, you should immediately find a way to get out of your own head. Go for a brisk walk, call a friend, engage in some sort of physical activity that will take your mind off your desire to drink. Most cravings will pass within a half-hour; if you can distract yourself long enough, you may find you no longer want to have that drink, after all.
5. Reach out to your support system
Isolation is a major risk factor for alcohol relapse. By reaching out to understanding and compassionate friends, family members, or people in your recovery program, you’ll be able to discuss your emotions in a supportive, non-judgmental environment. Your support system can help talk you through your cravings and remind you of the importance of your sobriety.
6. Forgive yourself for having the urge to drink
It’s perfectly normal to have the urge to drink. If you find yourself craving alcohol, don’t shame yourself or make yourself feel guilty. Shame and guilt will only lead to feelings of disappointment and frustration – common triggers for relapse. Simply acknowledge your craving, and let it go, knowing that this is an expected challenge of your sobriety, and one that every recovering alcoholic must face.
Recovery is possible for alcoholics in San Diego at The Pearson Center
Living a life of sobriety takes commitment, strength, and persistence. It’s a challenging journey, but one that is worthwhile. If you’re having trouble staying sober, or fear you’re on the brink of a relapse, reach out for help immediately. With the proper support and guidance, you can win the battle against alcohol addiction. Give us a call at (858) 784-7867.