According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA), roughly 90% of people with alcoholism relapse at least once within 4 years after completing treatment. Although treatment helps individuals to counteract addiction’s destructive effects on their brain, cravings do still serve as temptations for those in recovery. A craving refers to a broad range of thoughts, physical sensations, or emotions that tempt a person to drink, even if the person doesn’t have much desire to. A person’s cravings can be set off by triggers, which are either internal or external (environmental). For example, internal triggers are often sparked by a fleeting thought, emotion, or physical sensation. External triggers are people, places, things, or times of the day that present themselves as a reason or opportunity to drink.
Even though a person develops coping mechanisms and tools to working through triggering situations, cravings can still emerge. Many people fear relapse because they believe it to be a failure, while most researchers have come to see relapse a normal part of recovery. If you’ve been tempted to relapse a few times, consider keeping track of these events. Write down the cravings you’re getting, what is triggering them, and ways that you can control or avoid them. High-risk situations, such as going to a bar with a friend, can be very dangerous for your sobriety and should be avoided if it’s going to damage your recovery.
If relapse occurs, the tools learned in treatment need to either be reinstated, or another approach in treatment should be tried. Many times, a person will relapse once but will remain sober for a very long time after that. If the relapses occur more frequently, the individual may be referred by their friends, family, or physician to return to treatment. This does not mean the person has failed, but rather should push through their recovery with full force again as they discover what has led to their relapse and what they need to do to overcome it again.
Relapse is higher the first few years after treatment because a person is still finding their grounding. Many have been in residential treatment programs and, once they return home, they are faced with challenges they may have faced before entering treatment. Negotiating a new social circle, extracurricular activities, and more can be stressful for some – but that does not mean that recovery is not possible. Continue fighting for sobriety. It’s always worth it.
Simple Recovery is a world-renowned, California state-licensed substance abuse treatment program. We believe in holistic recovery, meaning that we will work with you to restore your mind, body, and spirit. If you’re seeking a treatment center that focuses primarily on mental health, call our parent property, New Vista Behavioral Health, at 855-398-7959. If you’re seeking treatment for either substance abuse or dual diagnosis, call us at 888-743-0490. There are many people that can help you develop the tools you need to succeed.