Exploring The Main Causes of an Alcohol Relapse

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Exploring The Main Causes of an Alcohol Relapse

The recovery journey is rarely straightforward – and along the way, you may come across various temptations and setbacks – including relapse. Understanding the causes of alcohol relapse is important, and key to minimising the risk.

But what are the main causes of a relapse? That’s what we’ll be exploring today. Read on to learn more about some of the main factors that can lead to you drinking after a period of sobriety, and how you can prevent relapsing.


What is an Alcohol Relapse?

Before we explain the main causes of relapse, let’s determine what an alcohol relapse is. A relapse is when you return to drinking during addiction recovery after achieving a period of sobriety.

After relapsing, you may feel guilty – but the good news is that you can get back on track. Relapse is often a part of the recovery process, and you shouldn’t consider it a failure. Instead, take it as an opportunity to learn more about your triggers and learn from your mistakes so you’re better prepared for the next stages of recovery.


What Can Cause an Alcohol Relapse?

There is rarely just one cause for a relapse – instead, it is often a combination of factors that lead to relapsing. For example, the combination of the lack of coping skills, environmental triggers and the lack of a support system could all lead to relapse further down the line.


1. Alcohol Craving

First of all, after detoxing from alcohol, you may continue to experience alcohol cravings for some time. This intense desire for alcohol is a powerful force that can lead to relapse.

Alcohol cravings may become more intense around certain triggers – for example, if your friends are drinking alcohol around you, or at social events such as parties or weddings. Likewise, Christmas and New Year’s Eve can be difficult times if you’re in recovery. It’s important to address these cravings to maintain your sobriety.


2. Mental Relapse

A mental relapse involves a battle within your mind – you may struggle between the desire to stay sober and the temptation to drink alcohol. This mental battle can result in the loss of control of your sobriety. Some factors that may contribute to a mental relapse include stress, anxiety, or environmental triggers.

If you’re concerned about your state of mind, reach out to friends and family, or a mental health professional.


3. Physical Relapse

A physical relapse is when you physically consume alcohol after you quit drinking. This often comes after a mental relapse and alcohol cravings. It’s important that you recognise the signs you’re going to relapse and take the right measures to avoid surrendering to the urge.

The biggest warning sign is cravings, but you may also notice you’re spending more time with people you used to drink alcohol with, or you’re not putting as much effort into managing your sobriety as usual. You may also notice emotional triggers such as boredom or stress.

Before a physical relapse, you may also find yourself rationalising – for example, you may think to yourself ‘It’s just one drink’ or ‘What harm can it do’. The key is staying mindful of these signs, and reaching out to your support system.


4. Environmental Triggers

One of the main causes of relapse is environmental triggers. Being exposed to places, people or scenarios that you associate with alcohol or your past drinking habits can reignite cravings.

This can jeopardise your recovery, and make it harder to hold on to your sobriety. Therapy can help you to understand your triggers, and help you to manage relapse effectively. The key to overcoming environmental triggers is understanding them and avoiding them where possible.


5. Lack of a Support System

Recovery can be lonely, and isolation can be a dangerous factor leading to a relapse. This is why having a strong support system in place is so important, whether it be friends, family, support groups or addiction specialists. This is key to maintaining your recovery.

A lack of social support can lead to feelings of loneliness, which in turn, can increase the risk of relapse. Likewise, loneliness can lead to boredom, which can be a trigger for drinking alcohol.

If you don’t have a support system in place, you have nobody but yourself to hold you accountable. Friends and family can help to keep you on the path to sobriety and discourage you from drinking alcohol. They can help to spot the warning signs of relapse and provide you with emotional support when you need it the most.


6. Untreated Mental Health Issues

Mental health can be a huge factor in relapse. If you have underlying mental health conditions such as depression or anxiety, it’s important that you seek the right support. Therapy and counselling can be a great form of treatment for both addiction and mental health disorders.

If you are dealing with unresolved issues such as depression, anxiety, or trauma, you may be more likely to turn to alcohol as a coping strategy. Comprehensive treatment that addresses both addiction and mental health is essential for long-term recovery. At Help4Addiction, we can find the right treatment program for you.


How to Prevent a Relapse

The best way to prevent relapse is to set the foundation for lasting recovery – this involves
Addressing the physical and psychological aspects of addiction.

Detoxification is the first step of addiction treatment – this stage involves withdrawing from alcohol. After the main withdrawal symptoms have subsided, you may proceed to therapy treatment.

During therapy, you will work with a therapist to develop a relapse prevention plan – this can safeguard against breaking your sobriety. This plan should include strategies for managing cravings, identifying triggers, and building a robust support system.

Engaging in regular therapy and counselling sessions can provide you with tools to cope with stress, manage emotions, and navigate challenges without resorting to alcohol. Therapeutic interventions contribute significantly to relapse prevention.

Additionally, making positive lifestyle changes, such as maintaining a healthy diet, exercising regularly and practising stress-reduction techniques, can enhance your overall well-being and reduce the risk of resorting back to drinking.

Some people find support groups helpful. Support groups such as Alcoholics Anonymous (AA), provide a sense of community and understanding. Connecting with others who share similar struggles can provide a supportive environment crucial for recovery.


Find The Right Rehab Clinic

If you’re looking to stop drinking and stay sober, our team at Help4Addiction can connect you with the best rehab clinic for you. We’ll explore your addiction history, recovery goals, preferences and requirements to find the most suitable treatment plan.

We have been helping people with drug and alcohol addictions for years and can help you too. Whether you’re looking for inpatient treatment at a residential rehab clinic, outpatient rehab, or even online rehab from the comfort of your own home, we can connect you to the right alcohol treatment provider.

We offer free and immediate advice, guiding you towards personalised and cost-effective solutions. We are here to help you maintain your sobriety – contact us today to begin your recovery journey.

About Author

Nicholas Conn

Nicholas Conn

Nicholas Conn is a leading industry addiction expert who runs the UK’s largest addiction advisory service and is regularly featured in the national press, radio and TV. He is the founder and CEO of a drug and alcohol rehab center called Help4addiction, which was founded in 2015. He has been clean himself since 2009 and has worked in the Addiction and Rehab Industry for over a decade. Nick is dedicated to helping others recover and get treatment for drug and alcohol abuse. In 2013, he released a book ‘The Thin White’ line that is available on Amazon.

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