Avoiding Alcoholic Relapse After Detox
By Shim Stregosky - Midwest Detox
The journey to recovery from alcohol addiction is not an easy one. Detox is the first and most crucial step in that process. The unfortunate reality is that it can be all too easy to relapse once you have achieved sobriety. The temptation and allure that alcohol holds can be too hard to resist and all the hard work that went into becoming sober can fall by the wayside.
Fortunately, there are ways to avoid alcoholic relapse after detox. In order to be successful in your detox and the rest of your recovery journey, it is important to first understand what causes someone to relapse. Equipped with that understanding, one can take the steps necessary to avoid falling off the wagon.
What Causes Relapse After Detox?
Most often, alcoholics have been drinking for years before seeking treatment for their addiction. Over the course of those years, their minds and bodies have adapted to the alcohol and have become dependent on drinking in order to function and survive. Breaking away from that physical and psychological dependence is a serious struggle that a recovering alcoholic battles with each and every day.
While every day may be a struggle, there are certain common causes for relapsing and recognizing those triggers can be extremely beneficial in staying sober. Stress is one of the leading causes for relapse. When faced with stressful situations, which can run the gamut from relationship issues to financial problems to work deadlines, it’s easy for an alcoholic to slip back into old habits and negative coping mechanisms.
Another easy way for a recovering alcoholic to fall into old patterns is when faced with social situations they are not equipped for. Attending social events where alcohol is served and everyone around you is drinking can be very triggering. Because alcohol is so readily available and present in almost all social situations, it can be extremely difficult to navigate social settings as someone who is newly sober.
Negative emotions are yet another way an alcoholic may stumble and relapse. When experiencing feelings of depression, anxiety, anger, frustration, or loneliness, it’s all too easy to seek comfort in something that will numb the pain. Without proper coping mechanisms in place, alcohol may become the answer to taming those negative emotions.
In the same vein that a pregnant woman may crave ice cream, a recovering alcoholic can experience intense cravings for alcohol. These cravings can come on suddenly with no warning at all. If you are not equipped with healthy strategies to manage those urges, it may be too hard to resist them.
Lastly, boredom can also play a detrimental role in relapsing. During the early recovery period, it’s easy to miss the excitement that comes from drinking. If you’re not keeping busy and distracting yourself, the chances of alcohol relapse after detox can be extremely high.
Alcohol Detox Relapse Rates
Sometimes people don’t like to hear statistics. In fact, they can often be disheartening. However, it is imperative to understand alcohol detox relapse rates in order to prepare oneself properly for the detox process. Knowing what you are in for and the odds of relapsing can help you better equip yourself to be successful in your recovery journey.
According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse & Alcoholism, roughly 90% of people who struggle with alcoholism will experience a relapse at some point in their lifetime. This is due in large part to paws (post acute withdrawal syndrome), which is when the individual suffers from longer-term withdrawal symptoms. In the days of early recovery, relapse occurrences are highest. Almost 50% of individuals who relapse will relapse during their first month of sobriety. The chances for relapsing gradually lessen the longer you are sober. After five years of sobriety, relapse rates drop to less than 15 percent.
It is important to note that men show a higher rate of relapse than women. Additionally, a longer and more intense history of alcohol use will dictate a higher chance for experiencing relapse. Across the board, stress has shown to be the highest risk factor contributing to relapse. Approximately 60% of people who relapse do so because of stress-related factors.
How To Avoid Relapse After Detox
Equipped with the knowledge of what causes relapses to happen and the rates at which they occur, we can now discuss how to avoid relapse after detox. One of the key factors to avoiding relapse is having a strong support system. Research has shown that those who have the support of family members and friends are much more likely to succeed in their sobriety.
A second key factor in avoiding relapse is understanding what your triggers are and avoiding them. Be careful to avoid the places where you previously drank and the people who you previously drank with. In the early days of recovery, it can be so easy to slip back into old patterns so staying away from negative influences will greatly improve your chances for success.
Keeping yourself busy is another essential way to avoid relapse. Too much free time allows the mind to wander and might cause the alcoholic to reminisce about old times. They may miss the excitement that drinking used to provide for them and if they don’t have anything to keep them busy, grabbing a drink can become frighteningly easy. It is therefore vitally important to seek new hobbies, exercise regularly, and explore new interests.
Not only are these things important in terms of keeping busy, but they also provide a form of self care that will help the recovering alcoholic stay strong both mentally and physically. Allowing oneself to indulge in self care nourishes both the body and soul and will strengthen your resolve to remain sober and healthy. Another reason self care is so important is because it is a healthy way to decrease stress. As stated previously, stress is one of the leading causes for relapse and effectively managing one’s stress will significantly lower their risk for relapse.
Lastly, it is imperative to seek professional help if you ever feel like your resolve may be slipping. If intrusive thoughts begin to invade your headspace, utilize both your support system and the help of mental health professionals to stay strong.
Having a strong support system, avoiding triggers, keeping busy, practicing self care, and seeking professional help may all sound simple enough. However, the rates for relapse are so high because effectively implementing these strategies can be very tough for an alcoholic in the fragile early steps of recovery.
Avoiding Alcoholic Relapse with Midwest Detox
A strong foundation is what will set the alcoholic up for success. The early days of recovery are when it is most crucial to lay a foundation that you can build upon. Without a solid foundation, it will be impossible for the recovering alcoholic to successfully utilize any of the above-mentioned strategies.
At Midwest Detox, it is our goal to work together with you to build a solid start to your recovery. Our expertly trained team of medical and mental health professionals will guide you through the entire detox process and provide you with the tools necessary to stay vigilant in your recovery journey. Let us help you overcome the odds and achieve sobriety successfully.
Are you in need of a private drug and alcohol detox center to begin your recovery? If so, Midwest Detox can provide everything you need to detox in a safe, comfortable environment. Visit our site or call us directly at 414-409-5200 to take the first step toward sobriety.