Relapses in alcoholism – how to prevent them?

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Relapses in alcoholism

Alcoholism is a chronic disease which an addict has to struggle with for the rest of his life, despite completing the therapy. In many cases, the period of abstinence is intertwined with periods of drinking, but often patients remain sober for up to several years. Although the relapse process itself is equated with reaching for alcohol, it is actually the last stage that is preceded by a strong craving for alcohol. What are the symptoms of a likelihood of relapse, and how can they be prevented?

The process of treating alcoholism is not only about alcohol detox and detox, giving up alcohol and AA meetings. The main axis of change is in the mind of the patient who learns to observe his own body and accepts the existence of triggers that can break the period of abstinence. Following this path, in order to prepare as best as possible for a possible relapse, one should allow the possibility of its occurrence. Triggers, both internal and external, play a significant role in this regard. What form can they be?

Internal triggers

  • anger,
  • sadness,
  • fear,
  • loneliness,
  • too much self-confidence,
  • stress,

External triggers

  • people with whom the patient consumed alcohol,
  • places associated with the consumption of alcohol by the patient,
  • situations / times in which the patient drank.

The action of the above-mentioned triggers depends on a specific person and their mental state. Negative emotions and the association of a given situation, person, or place with drinking can result in a craving for alcoholism that will increase over time. One of the main triggers is also the alcohol itself, which does not necessarily have to be in the form of a drink, but be present in food or cosmetics.

Symptoms of relapse of alcoholism

When a trigger is activated, a person may experience many symptoms that are warning signs related to various aspects of functioning. What are the most popular of them?

  • Physical sphere – patients may develop symptoms such as body tremors, sweating, insomnia, fatigue, frequent headaches, loss of appetite, the desire to reach for a glass, and even dreams about alcohol.
  • Mental sphere – the sick person is often irritable, accompanied by mood swings, depression, a sense of monotony and the creation of fantasies about his own life.
  • Sphere of thoughts – overconfidence appears, which will manifest itself in avoiding AA meetings, looking for contact with alcohol (spilling alcohol at parties), breaking contact with other patients, dissatisfaction with treatment, and finally stopping it. The patient often denies having a drinking problem and is associated with intrusive thoughts about it.
  • Family and professional sphere – the patient neglects the daily household chores, overwork, isolates himself from relatives to whom he often has a grudge. In addition, he is looking for contact with people who do not know about his disease.

Relapse phases of alcoholism

  • Denial
  • Avoidance – defensive behavior
  • Crisis
  • Loss of sense of agency
  • Confusion
  • Depression
  • Loss of control
  • Realize the lack of control

How to prevent relapse?

During therapy, patients learn how to deal with situations that may lead to relapse. In the first place, it is to avoid triggers, whether related to specific people or places, but also to avoid extreme emotions that may cause you to reach for a glass.

It is also recommended to focus your attention on another activity that will absorb your thoughts (e.g. sports, hobbies). It is extremely important to stop thoughts of alcohol as they arise. In an uncertain situation, it makes sense to contact another sober alcoholic, asking for support. It is also easier to maintain abstinence when the patient is satisfied with his life in its various aspects.

Therefore, it is necessary to take care of both the relationship with loved ones and the professional sphere, health, sexuality and spirituality.

In order to successfully treat alcoholism, at the very beginning you need to be willing and motivated to fight the enemy. You need the support of close people and a strong will that will make us decide for ourselves whether alcohol will be present in our lives. However, you should be aware that treating alcoholism on your own is virtually impossible and, if possible, very difficult. Fortunately, specialized addiction treatment centers come out to help addicts. They form the basis of the entire treatment process. Therefore, if the alcoholic gives himself a chance and decides to hand over to specialists, it will undoubtedly be a good decision.

When starting treatment, you need to know that you will not recover from addiction in a few days. You should be ready for several months of therapy from the very beginning. Cleansing the body of harmful substances, detoxing as well as specialist psychological therapy can take even years.

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