The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) estimates that approximately 17.6 million adults in the U.S. struggle with alcohol abuse or alcoholism. The majority of these cases go untreated. A report published by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) in 2009 found that of the 7 million adults ages 18 to 25 who were in need of alcohol or drug treatment, only seven percent actually received treatment. Receiving professional treatment for alcohol abuse and alcoholism has been found to be greatly beneficial in attaining and sustaining long-term recovery.
What Is Alcoholism?
Many different factors contribute to alcohol abuse and alcoholism; however, a specific cause is still unknown. Alcohol abuse is defined as consumption of alcohol that leads to negative consequences, but does not lead to physical addiction. Alcohol abuse can turn into a progressive and chronic condition known as alcoholism. Alcoholism is characterized by an individual having signs of physical alcohol addiction but continuing to drink, even though the alcohol use is interfering with everyday life.
Relapsing on Alcohol
Once you have stopped using alcohol, whether you did so on your own or with the help of a professional rehab program, it is important to avoid alcohol and drug use altogether. When your body constantly has alcohol in its system, it builds up a tolerance to the substance. It needs more and more in order for your body to feel the same effects. Once you stop drinking for a period of time, your tolerance decreases. If individuals begin drinking again or relapse, they often think that their bodies are able to tolerate the same amount of alcohol as before. Due to decreased tolerance, this is untrue, and this misconception can be extremely dangerous. Others often think that “just one drink” will not cause problems; however, one drink can quickly lead you on a downward spiral into alcoholism.
Tips for Relapse Prevention
One of the best ways to prevent relapse is to get professional treatment to break your addiction; however, many individuals choose to strive toward sobriety on their own. No matter how you became a recovering alcoholic, it is important to continually and actively work toward preventing relapse. The following are a few tips for alcoholism relapse prevention:
- Attend a support group. Whether you sought professional treatment or not, support group meetings are essential to maintaining sobriety. A support group provides a comfortable and safe environment for you to share your struggles and successes with others who are going through similar situations.
- Avoid alcohol. Avoid situations, events and social settings in which you know alcohol will be involved so that you are not tempted to drink.
- Make a plan. It is inevitable that you will be in a situation where there is alcohol. Make a plan so that you know how you will deal with this situation when it comes up.
- Make a list. Write down the reasons you stopped drinking—family, finances, friends, yourself and your health. Place this list of motivators on your refrigerator for a visual reminder of why you stopped drinking.
Maintaining sobriety after treatment is a daily challenge. Some days may seem easier than others; however, sobriety is a daily choice. It takes courage, commitment and determination.
Alcohol Abuse Help
If you or a loved one is experiencing signs of alcohol relapse, call our toll-free helpline now. Alcohol relapse is a serious condition and can even be fatal. Our recovery professionals can help you find a treatment program that will help you get back on track. We are available 24 hours a day to give you guidance, provide you with support and help you get the treatment you need. Call today.