Recovering from an alcohol addiction isn’t a simple thing to do. You don’t just suddenly stop wanting to drink; it’s a lifelong struggle that will have its challenging moments. Unfortunately, there will be times where you may feel the urge to start drinking again. Luckily, you can recognize and overcome those feelings whenever they creep up.
Emotionally Heavy Times
Life can bring you down; you can be doing well, and then something happens that can negatively affect you or your outlook. Finding out about the death of a loved one or being laid off from your job can make your world seem to crumble. No matter what, the emotional burden can be intense for many people causing them to slip back into old habits.
What matters in the end is what you do in reaction to these trying times. It’s important to remember that everyone is different and what might affect you might not affect someone else. With that being said, understand that feeling intense emotions during emotionally heavy times is completely normal.
One common way to take care of yourself is to make sure that all your needs are met; eat well, drink water, and make sure you’re getting enough sleep so you need to stay healthy and strong. Make sure you don’t miss any therapy appointments or skip out on any medication you need to take. It’s also important you are aware of what you’re feeling. Writing down how you feel in a journal is one way to address a situation.
Another thing you should do is reach out to someone who understands your situation. There are communities out there that understand what you’re going through. Groups like Alcoholics Anonymous have meetings throughout the country, where people who need a place to talk can come together in a nonjudgmental environment. Talking to others who know what you’re going through can help ease the stress you’re feeling and make you feel comforted and not alone.
Times of Celebration
It’s easy to see why emotionally heavy times would make someone feel as though they’re going to relapse, but one thing that people tend to forget about are those times of immense pleasure and joy. Celebrating a new job offer or finishing your four-year degree is all well and good but wanting to keep the good feelings going can oftentimes be a trigger to relapse.
Relapsing during a celebration happens because people will feel as though they’re in control, and they’ll think they can handle one drink. The thing about addiction, though, is that you’re not in control when you’re using. The reward center of the brain has drastically changed due to the consequences of addiction, and these changes are long-lasting, resulting in the need to drink all the time.
Understanding these changes can be the first line of defense when deciding to celebrate. If you do feel the need to drink, however, there are a few things you can do to keep yourself from relapsing. For starters, communicate with people, and let them know that you don’t want to drink. Let your family, friends, and sober companions know what you’re doing, where you’re going, and whether or not you feel comfortable going; be honest with everyone, and everything will be ok.
Having a friend nearby can help you stay on track. You’re accountable for your actions but having someone you trust place a hand on your shoulder can be just the reminder you need about your promises to stay clean.
If you feel tempted to drink again at a party or gathering, take a walk outdoors and clear your head. Just because you’re at a celebration doesn’t mean you’re forced to stay inside. In fact, you can leave whenever you want. You should never feel like you have to stay someplace you don’t want to be. Say congratulations, shake a hand or two, and leave.
Taking a Vacation
Stress is a common trigger to relapse for many people recovering from alcohol addiction, and life is full of stresses. Everyone deserves a break, and you shouldn’t feel bad about needing it. Vacations are a great way to relax and take a breather from life, but for those in recovery, they can be extra stressful moments of temptation.
To stay on the path you’ve set for yourself, you need to learn more about staying sober during your time off. For starters, acknowledge that your feelings are real; no good can come from trying to ignore or hiding your true feelings no matter where you are.
Make sure you choose where you vacation carefully. Don’t pick a place you don’t think you can handle. Some areas are known for their partying lifestyle and are riddled with temptations; trying to navigate them can be overly stressful, so choose a place that’s comfortable for you.
It may go without saying, but make sure you don’t overdo it either. Vacationing is all about taking a break and relaxing, but don’t feel you need to check off everything on your to-do list. Needlessly overdoing it on vacation is grounds for more stress, so take your time and enjoy your time off.
Another suggestion is to bring small items with you to remind you of your sobriety. You don’t have to take the Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous everywhere you go but having your AA chip in your pocket can be that small little reminder of how far you’ve come. And remember, no matter where you are, there are fellowships and meetings anywhere you go if you feel like you’re struggling.
Staying clean and sober takes time and dedication. The temptation to go back to old habits is something that will happen, time and again. There is always a way to keep yourself on the right track, though, no matter what life throws your way.