Is it Safe to Drink Alcohol if You are an Ex Alcohol Addict?

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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.

Is it Safe to Drink Alcohol if You are an Ex Alcohol Addict?
Can you still drink after you have recovered from an addiction to alcohol? It’s a good question and we wanted to research what the experts had to say about it.

Understanding your Relationship with Alcohol

The relationship between alcoholism and drinking is different for everyone. For many people, they may be worried that taking one drink would see them starting down a slippery slope back to alcoholism. For others, one drink isn’t enough to trigger those same old thoughts that made them turn to alcohol the first time. The relationship can be one extreme, the other extreme, and everything in between. It is only by thoroughly understanding your own relationship with alcohol or drugs that you can understand whether or not a single drink is OK. There are multiple factors at play which can affect your judgement in this matter. Let’s talk about how each of these affects your ability to drink casually after you have recovered from an addiction.

Factors that Impact Your Ability to Drink Casually

Drinking in moderation is possible for an alcoholic, but you must act with foresight and clarity of thought. Weigh each of the following factors carefully before you try to have a single drink. If you do start to slip, remember that Help4Addiction can find you a rehab clinic that will provide an intervention with a short stay. This can interrupt those habits before they form.


If you are still intensely craving a drink, then it’s not safe for you to have one. Some alcoholics will never return to casual drinking because the craving never goes fully away. If you can’t trust yourself not to splurge or binge drink, you can’t have a drink yet. Give it time before you try again.

Length of Time in Recovery

Those who have handled cravings repeatedly over a long period are less likely to return to the life of an alcoholic after a single drink. The more successful your recovery, the more you have practised those tools you learned in rehab to help you quit drinking. Once these are second nature to you, having a single drink won’t be a problem. You will know what to do if you have cravings and you know how to take responsibility in stopping yourself.

Withdrawal Symptoms

If you chance it and have a drink, how do you feel the day after? Pay close attention to your cravings and to your feelings. Are you suffering withdrawal symptoms? If you are getting the urge to go and do it again straight away, you are still in the danger zone. You need to start engaging your toolkit and keep away from alcohol for a little longer.

Helping Recovered Addicts with “Just One Drink”

People that quit drinking are often haunted by it. Alcohol is an important part of the structure of British society and is present at every occasion imaginable. As a result, courses have been devised with the aim of helping the user to manage their alcohol consumption levels. These programs are referred to as Moderation Management Courses, and they can help you to drink once in a while as an ex alcoholic.

What happens with Moderation Management?

Alcohol Moderation Management was founded in 1994 as an alternative to completely quitting drinking. Instead of joining the AA and stopping alcohol completely, this group believed that harm reduction was possible with a more mindful approach to drinking. Moderation Management is a self-help program where you work through the steps on your own. Although we prefer that clients who are struggling to manage their alcoholism symptoms return to rehab for a detox and 7 days stay period, this system could help you stay sober on the outside world. We do not recommend it as a way to quit drinking, only as a way to potentially manage yourself as an ex-addict returning to the concept of having just one drink.

What If I Don’t Want to Drink Again?

We fully support those that recover from addiction and never want to drink again. This is considered normal behaviour. After all, nobody wants to spend time with the thing that almost killed them. Those that don’t want to drink again will find a variety of non-alcoholic options available at the local supermarket. Quitting drinking is different for everyone. Don’t judge yourself too harshly for wanting a single drink when you are recovered. The important thing is that you do it mindfully, in full knowledge of what happens when you let it get out of control. Don’t undo all that good work you did.

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