Long-Term Recovery &
Relapse Prevention

Long-Term Recovery & Relapse Prevention

Recovering from alcohol addiction can be a challenging process. However, with dedication and perseverance, it’s definitely possible for you to achieve your goals. There are several approaches to recover, one of the most popular and effective being total abstinence.

Starting from here, some routes can help you reach long-term sobriety. However, not all of them are organised and easy to follow. Many choices you make in the future will ask for you to be aware, demanding constant vigilance, and you will need a strong support network. Learn about handling the triggering situations through these routes in this article.


The Importance Of Abstinence

Abstinence involves complete avoidance of all mind-altering substances in order to avoid temptation. Many people struggling with alcohol addiction have tried to moderate and found that it doesn’t work. One drink becomes two, two becomes four, and the cycle continues. Abstinence ensures that you need never worry about trying to moderate your drinking, as you’re never lighting the touchpaper that can start off a binge.

The thought of a life without alcohol can seem daunting, particularly if you’ve been drinking for a long time. However, it’s achievable, and hundreds of thousands of people worldwide reap the benefits of abstinence every day. You might be worried that you’ll never be able to have sober fun, but once you open that door and connect with others in recovery, you’ll discover a brand new, exciting world.


The Importance of Maintaining a Support Network

A strong support network can help you establish a ‘safety net’ to fall back on when times get hard. People in a support network can provide advice, companionship, and emotional support. They can also help you stay motivated while tackling your addiction and celebrate your successes and triumphs along the way.

Feeling supported during this process could be invaluable for your recovery, as there are bound to be difficult days along the way. Knowing you have a strong support network will be essential in keeping you positive and motivated, and also provides you with accountability.

If all of your friends and family still drink, you still have options. In early recovery, it’s unwise to go to events that are serving alcohol. Most areas have twelve-step meetings, and if yours doesn’t, the internet has ensured that you’re never more than a click away from a virtual room full of sober people.

If you don’t want to go to twelve-step meetings, you could consider local Sober Meetup groups on social media. Non-drinking movements are gaining popularity across the country, and will be a fantastic way to make new friends that don’t centre on alcohol. Taking part in social activities such as sports clubs or even a book club will also help you meet new people as well as having fun in a safe and fun environment


Changing Lifestyle Choices and Integrating New Ways of Life

If alcohol consumption was a big aspect of your life prior to abstinence from alcohol use and moving into recovery from addiction, you may feel at times that there is something missing from your life. However, you need to remember that this is the start of a totally new adventure!

For instance, when you embark on recovery, you will find that you have more time to pursue any passions and hobbies you may have previously neglected. Also, you’re now free to discover new opportunities and experiences. Your free time will seem so much longer without having to deal with a hangover!

Recognizing the Signs of an Early Relapse

Temptations are to be expected in the long-term road to recovery from alcohol addiction. However, it is essential to note that this is not a sign of individual weakness, and you must not let it affect your overall recovery goal.

It could be that there are still negative influences or temptations in your life, cravings that are still tough to ignore, or factors such as mental health that still need to be addressed. Knowing your enemy is key when it comes to finding freedom from alcohol, so understanding the warning signs can help keep you out of danger.

If you or someone you know experiences one or more of the following signs, it could indicate relapse.

  • Becoming increasingly isolated
  • Increased irritability
  • Excessively lying
  • Experiencing feelings of depression
  • Having suicidal thoughts
  • Lack of motivation toward life commitments
  • Lack of self-care, such as personal hygiene, diet, etc.
  • Spending more and more time with people who have a negative influence

Tools and Methods for Managing Stressful Situations and the Impulsion To Drink

If you feel you need to drink, or you find yourself becoming increasingly more stressed with daily life or the expectations of friends or family as a result of the recovery process, there are various ways that you can seek help.

For instance, counselling and therapy can offer a safe space to discuss your feelings and your recovery journey. This could be beneficial if you feel you are not getting sufficient help from your support network.

However, it is essential to remember that your support network is there for you no matter what, and sometimes all you may need is a little reassurance. It can be easy to feel that you are burdening others at various times in life, but this is not the case. A strong and healthy support network would never make anyone feel this way, and instead, will be more than happy to help you get back to where you need to be.

Many people find mutual aid meetings such as Alcoholics Anonymous or SMART beneficial, as they can learn from others with lived experience and share their struggles and triumphs.


The Recovery Journey

Consistency is key to many things in life, and the journey to recovery from alcohol addiction is no different. It is paramount to constantly remind yourself of why you are on this journey and focus on the end goal.

As mentioned earlier in regards to the importance of maintaining a support network, feeling the presence of support, advice, and positive reinforcement from loved ones will help immeasurably with your recovery journey. Having a solid network will ensure that you won’t feel alone and will feel supported, and sometimes, this can help to motivate you through hard times.

It is essential to consider the alternatives to being on the recovery journey (i.e. the negative consequences of not seeking help and treatment). Doing so will remind you that you have made the right decision, and will encourage you to stick with the process.

In addition, keeping a journal can be beneficial, as it can highlight your progress with your recovery journey and demonstrate how your feelings change over time. When your thoughts are muddled in your mind, it can be challenging to understand and distinguish them. Writing them down can be a valuable tool in understanding yourself and help you move forward with recovery and towards a clean future.

Jason Shiers
Author / Jason Shiers / Dip.Psych MBACP
Jason Shiers is a Certified Transformative Coach & Certified Psychotherapist who is a specialist in addiction, trauma and eating disorders. He has been working in the field of addiction for 25 years now.

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