It’s hard for outsiders to understand why alcoholics relapse, but to someone experiencing alcohol addiction, even after completing treatment programs going back to drinking is still a very real possibility. Our article about relapse prevention has some ways to help prevent an alcoholic from losing sobriety. Understanding exactly WHY relapses occur can also help prevent them from happening again.
Here are 10 Reasons Why Alcoholics Relapse:
1. They Did Not Quit For Themselves: When someone is forced into addiction treatment, whether by law officials or the insistence of family members or friends, there’s a good chance that the alcoholic does not really want to quit for themselves yet. Until you have reached the point where you are going to treatment for yourself, you are likely to be less successful in treatment programs than if you went with an open mind and an earnest will to succeed at becoming sober for good.
2. Stress: Life is no bowl of cherries most of the time for most of us. Stress comes from all types of sources – family responsibilities and demands, our jobs, and even societal pressures. While most treatment centers will cover ways to manage stress effectively, unless you actually actively practice stress relieving methods that don’t avoid drugs or alcohol, it is possible you may still think of alcohol or drugs as a means to solving problems.
3. Too Widely Available: Seeing alcohol everywhere, from TV commercials to standing in line at a grocery store can make it difficult for an alcoholic to resist the temptation. You might watch a beer commercial and find yourself wanting a beer so badly…same goes by walking past it at the store. While you can attempt to remove yourself from these triggers, it can be very difficult, especially as more time goes by since your last drink.
4. Hanging Out With the Wrong Crowd: Sure, you might like catching up with old friends from time to time, but some of these friends are not really friends at all, especially if they are pressuring you to have a drink.
“Aw, c’mon”, they’ll say, “what’s one for old time’s sake?” Being prepared with the strength to say No can help – it is best if seeing these friends to limit to an activity that does not involve drugs or alcohol in anyway.
5. Ending Treatment Too Soon: When you end treatment too soon, you may find yourself a few weeks or months later thinking about drinking again and then too ashamed to crawl back for help. Even if you no longer attend weekly meetings or sessions, it can be good for you to attend one each month or on an other semi-regular basis.
6. Loneliness: When you remove yourself from bad influences or situations that can trigger drinking, you can begin to have feelings of isolation and loneliness. It’s important to continue to have a social life while being sober. You can often meet people from AA meetings or by joining interest groups in your area that enjoy the same hobbies. (Try meetup.com for example)
7. Behaviors Don’t Change: In order to stay sober, you must learn to change your behavior. Obviously, saying to change one’s behavior is a lot easier than actually doing it – even non alcoholics can relate to having a habit they cannot change. Overcoming addiction must involve starting life fresh and doing things differently – otherwise it is likely an alcoholic may relapse again.
8. Failure to Have Support: Many alcoholics are forced to overcome addiction alone. Others may have the availability of help through family or friends – but family and friends often do not know what to do. A counselor may be able to help someone in the recovery process identify objectively what others can do to be supportive and encourage sobriety.
9. Life Gets Too Good: While this one may seem odd, for some alcoholics they may recovery seemingly successfully and life begins to come together well. Then comes the rationalization that one can drink to celebrate, or an occasional drink would be acceptable. While for some its possible to drink occasionally again after recovery, many can just as easily fall back into addiction.
10. Lack of Motivation: Motivation isn’t easy for most people to find. Often people when going into a recovery drug or alcohol program are not highly motivated to quit or everything becomes so repeated and boring they become desensitized to it. The drive to stay sober can quickly vanish after things become better than they were before treatment. Successfully recovering requires that you continue to be motivated in staying sober for good.
These are just a few of the reasons why alcoholics relapse. It is a complicated subject, but with God’s help and the help of community, it truly is possible to maintain sobriety for the rest of one’s life.
Read about Relapse Prevention to learn more.