A big part of alcohol addiction recovery is protecting yourself from alcohol after treatment ends. During rehab, there is no access to alcohol of any kind, so the challenge of saying “no” to alcohol is not part of one’s daily routine. However, once treatment ends and you or your loved one is in the beginning stages of recovery, staying away from alcohol is an important part of preventing relapse. Unfortunately, staying away from alcohol completely can be challenging, and sometimes even impossible. Employing the coping skills that you learned in rehab and having strategies in place to protect your sobriety are crucial tasks to continue your recovery success.
The Mayo Clinic defines alcoholism as “a pattern of alcohol use that involves problems controlling your drinking, being preoccupied with alcohol, continuing to use alcohol even when it causes problems, having to drink more to get the same effect, or having withdrawal symptoms when you rapidly decrease or stop drinking.” Unhealthy alcohol use includes drinking any amount that puts your health or safety at risk, or the health and safety of someone else. People who struggle with alcoholism often have a family history of the disease or are genetically predisposed to it; furthermore, the earlier a person’s first experience with alcohol, the more likely he is to become an alcoholic later in life. In other words, learn what problems you have that predispose you to alcoholism, and then take action against them to stay sober.
Dealing with alcohol withdrawal in a safe way is the first and most important step in the recovery process. Alcohol withdrawal symptoms can be severe and life threatening at times, so it is important to seek appropriate medical attention. Many alcohol treatment facilities offer medically supervised detox, which allows the patient to withdraw from alcohol in a safe way. Alcohol withdrawal symptoms can include severe anxiety, tremors, irritability, agitation, seizures and severe stomach problems.
According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, several types of treatment are available for alcoholics. Behavioral treatments, such as cognitive behavioral therapy, work by changing the thought and behavior patterns associated with alcohol abuse. There are also medications that have proven successful in the treatment of alcohol addiction. These are available only by prescription from a medical doctor, and they are typically used in combination with counseling. Support groups like Alcoholics Anonymous use 12-Step programs to change negative thought patterns that lead to alcoholism. Support groups in combination with professional rehab settings can provide comprehensive plans for people who struggle with alcoholism.
Avoiding alcohol altogether during recovery is the best way to prevent relapse; but it is unlikely that you will avoid alcohol for the rest of your life. Office parties, family gatherings and weddings are a part of life, and staying away from celebrations is not always the best answer for you. If you are unsure of your ability to protect your sobriety, then finding an alternate activity is important, especially in the beginning stages of recovery. Once you feel strong enough to employ the coping skills that you learned in rehab, it is possible to attend functions where alcohol is being served. The following tips can help protect your sobriety when alcohol is present:
Employing these strategies and others can give you the freedom to enjoy life without using alcohol. The important thing is to be on your guard at all times.
Protecting yourself from alcohol during recovery is crucial to treatment success. If you have plans in place to cope with the presence of alcohol, then you will have an important part of preventing relapse. If you or a loved one struggles with alcohol abuse, then know that we are here for you. Call our toll-free, 24 hour helpline right now to speak to an admissions coordinator about available treatment options.