For those who have spent a lot of time and effort getting sober, the thoughts of a relapse can be very scary. In medical terms, a relapse is the return of symptoms of an illness after an individual has recovered. In terms of addiction to alcohol, for example, relapse does not occur when the person begins drinking again; it happens when that person starts thinking that drinking would be okay.
As soon as a recovering alcoholic starts to think that having one or two drinks would not be a problem, he or she is on the slippery slope to addiction once more. It is important to be alert to the signs of addiction so that you can be ready for them and head them off sooner rather than later.
Relapse is a major issue for those in recovery from addiction, but many people do not understand it properly. Many myths have developed around the subject of relapse and as such, it can be like a cloud hanging over the head of those in recovery.
One thing that is certain, however, is that relapse is not inevitable. Sadly, many alcoholics believe that relapse is simply a part of recovery, and many are of the opinion that they should get it out of the way early on. But the reality is that recovering alcoholics do not have to relapse at all during their recovery. It is not a certainty, and it can be avoided. It is much better for those who are recovering from alcoholism to never even consider relapse as anything other than something they need to avoid at all costs; this will give them a better chance of long-term sobriety.
If You Do Relapse
It is also important that you realise that relapse is not the end of the world either. If you do have a slip-up, it does not have to mean you have a full-blown relapse. Although relapse should not be viewed as a part of recovery, for some people it does help to get them back on the straight and narrow.
Those who are not strong in their sobriety may have a slip-up, but this often reminds them of why they wanted to get sober in the first place. It reminds them of what drinking was really like, and they stop glamorising their drinking days. A slip-up can be something that motivates an individual to stay sober for good.
Relapse prevention is probably something you learned about during rehabilitation, so you will already have an idea of what triggers your addictive behaviour. For those who want to maintain their sobriety, it is crucial to remain constantly vigilant to the threat of relapse. This will mean changing various aspects of your life after rehab.
It will mean avoiding old haunts, especially those where alcohol played a significant role, such as bars and nightclubs. Maybe you went for a drink every Friday after work with your colleagues, or you used to have a drink or two with lunch. If this is the case, you will need to stop doing this in order to avoid temptation. In the early days, your sobriety will probably be shaky, so avoid all events where alcohol may be present. This will include music concerts, sporting events and even dinner parties with groups of friends. Once you are on stronger ground, you may be able to start going to these events again as you will be able to firmly say ‘no’ to alcohol.
You might also have to avoid old friends for a while, especially those with whom you used to get drunk. Spend your time at meetings with other individuals in recovery and stay away from those who spend their time socialising with alcohol.
By doing this, you will be giving yourself a much better chance of success when it comes to long-term sobriety.