Preventing an Alcohol Relapse

Preventing an Alcohol Relapse

Your journey to a life free of alcohol may seem a drastic step at the moment, maybe you still feel your consumption seems under control, you might only have a case of beers or a bottle of whiskey on a Friday and Saturday night or only drink when you are at the local pub with your mates.

But if you are starting to feel concerned about your alcohol consumption, generally our loved ones are the first to notice that there is a problem and bring it to our attention, or you have started to experience the effects alcohol has on your Mental & Physical health, maybe even experienced an alcohol-induced accident or injury, your option at this point may be a complete detox and continued abstinence from alcohol.

That is a huge step and is to be congratulated, the next few steps need to be navigated and worked through to help prevent a relapse.

The stages of recovery are not the same length for each person, broadly speaking, there are three stages of recovery.

  • Transition / Abstinence approx 1-2 years there are many risks to recovery at this stage, including physical cravings, poor self-care, wanting to use just one more time, and struggling with whether you have an addiction.
  • Early recovery / Repair approx 2 years – clinical experience has shown that common causes of relapse in this stage are poor self-care and not going to self-help groups.
  • Ongoing recovery / Growth. This generally starts 3 to 5 years after your last drink and lasts for the rest of your life.

Trying to rush through the steps in your recovery can lead you to a relapse. If deciding to end your relationship with alcohol is the first step, detox and subsequent rehabilitation the 2nd, your life after rehab will be a journey of many steps, where an estimated 1/3rd of all alcohol rehab participants will relapse at some point during their recovery & a staggering 90% of alcoholics will relapse within 4 years.

Why detox alone is rarely enough in treating alcoholism:

Just like how the development of your alcohol use disorder didn’t happen overnight, nor will the recovery from alcohol:

Detoxification is the process where all traces of alcohol are flushed out of your system, once the alcohol is out of your system, you will be dealing with a range of withdrawal symptoms, mild to acute depending on the severity of your alcohol abuse. even medicated, unless you have the right support base, you may be tempted to relapse.

    • Our At Home Detox Service recommends you appoint a Support Buddy to assist with your detox, this can be a friend or family member that will ensure that you are kept hydrated, and monitored during the hard initial stages of detox.
    • We include, in our service, telephonic support for you and your Support Buddy, this is to ensure that your medical, emotional, and mental needs are assessed and any additional treatment plans adapted.
    • Additionally, we can offer the optional services of a Sober Coach who would be assigned to provide you with one-on-one assistance during your detox and recovery, a Sober Coach may be formally licensed as a mental health professional or have extensive experience and training in assisting newly recovering addicts.
    • Once the worst of your symptoms have eased, and life begins to go back to ‘normal’ you will come face to face with the triggers and influences that led to your abuse.

How to prevent a relapse post-detox:

Join a mutual aid programme like SMART (https://smartrecovery.org.uk/) or
Alcoholics Anonymous (https://www.alcoholics-anonymous.org.uk/AA-Meetings/Find-a-Meeting/online)

Alcoholics Anonymous (AA)

AA suggests a program of personal recovery that is contained in Twelve Steps and meetings are set out in a group environment, where you will be able to receive support and understanding from other members at different stages in the same journey.

The steps include admitting you’re powerless over alcohol and your life has become unmanageable, admitting you’ve acted wrongly, and, where possible, making amends with people you’ve harmed.

SMART Recovery

SMART Recovery groups help people decide whether they have a problem, build up their motivation to change, and offer a set of proven tools and techniques to support recovery.
The 4 steps programme – Building and maintaining motivation, Coping with urges, Maintaining thoughts, feelings & behaviors and finally Living a balanced life – teach rational, easy to learn & self-empowering skills to help you abstain from alcohol.

12-step facilitation therapy

There is also the 12-step facilitation therapy based on the Twelve Steps programme devised by the AA. The difference is you work through the stages on a one-to-one basis with a counsellor, rather than in a group.

This therapy may be your preferred treatment option if you feel uneasy or unwilling to discuss your problems in a group setting.

There are other contacts that you can choose from to help you stay sober:

  • We Are With You is a UK-wide treatment agency that helps individuals, families, and communities manage the effects of drug and alcohol misuse. If you are over 50 and worried about your drinking.
  • Drinkline is the national alcohol helpline, you can call this free helpline in complete confidence. Call 0300 123 1110 (weekdays 9 am to 8 pm, weekends 11 am to 4 pm).

Cognitive Behavioural Therapy

CBT Therapy – This can either be in a private capacity – Our service offers a Home-Based Therapy option for you to use during and after detox and initial abstinence – or through the NHS.
Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) is used to help you to identify unhelpful, unrealistic thoughts and beliefs that may be contributing to your alcohol dependence. Your therapist will teach you how to avoid certain triggers and cope effectively with those that are unavoidable.

Family & Friends Support

Due to the devastating effects of your alcohol misuse on your family and friends, you will need to rebuild their trust in you and support for your recovery, being honest with your loved ones about your journey and what you are feeling, experiencing, etc will give you a good foundation to build on.
There has also been a growth in carer organisations and Family Support Groups due to the increasing recognition that alcohol misuse affects the entire family.

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Support Groups for Families

The Adfam website (https://adfam.org.uk/help-for-families/useful-organisations) is very useful and has a list of different organisations that you can contact for support for your family through treatment.

Families Anonymous (http://famanon.org.uk/) is a self-help service based on the 12-steps plan and is aimed at helping families affected by drug use and behavioural problems.

The National Association for Children of Alcoholics (Nacoa) provides a free, confidential telephone and email helpline for children of alcohol-dependent parents and others concerned about their welfare. Call 0800 358 3456 for the Nacoa helpline.

Al-Anon Family Groups offers support and understanding to the families and friends of problem drinkers, whether they’re still drinking or not. Alateen is part of Al-Anon and can be attended by 12- to 17-year-olds who are affected by another person’s drinking, usually a parent.

Try to remember that relapse is not an overnight event, there will be signs that you are heading towards a relapse

So if you find yourself experiencing the following:

  • bottling up your emotions;
  • isolating;
  • not going to meetings or therapy;
  • going to meetings or therapy but not sharing;
  • focusing on others (focusing on other people’s problems or focusing on how other people affect them);
  • poor eating and sleeping habits.
  • And most notably Poor self-care when it comes to your emotional, psychological and physical needs

Please reach out to our service, your therapist, family, or nearest mutual aid group.

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