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Why Do Alcoholics Relapse When Things Are Good?

a woman struggles to prevent an alcohol addiction relapse

Alcoholism is a chronic disease that affects millions of people worldwide. It is characterized by an uncontrollable urge to consume alcohol despite the negative consequences it brings. While many individuals may successfully overcome their addiction and maintain sobriety, others may find themselves relapsing even after a period of abstinence.

Professional treatment equips participants with the tools they need to overcome their triggers and avoid relapse—contact Skywood Outpatient at 248.617.6237 or online for information about substance use disorder treatment in Michigan.

Why Do Alcoholics Relapse When Things Are Good?

To understand why alcoholics relapse, it is crucial to first understand the complexity of addiction. Alcoholism is not simply a bad habit or a lack of willpower. It is a chronic disease that affects the brain and leads to compulsive behaviors. Various factors, such as stress, environmental cues, and emotional states, can trigger these behaviors. Addiction also changes the brain’s chemistry, making it difficult for individuals to control their cravings. This means that even when things are going well in an alcoholic’s life, their brain may still crave alcohol and push them toward relapse.

Other things that can trigger relapse include:

  • Triggers – Triggers are events, situations, or emotions that remind an individual of their past addiction and can lead to cravings and, ultimately, relapse. These triggers may include stress at work, relationship issues, financial problems, or even something as simple as passing by a bar. When things are going well for an alcoholic, they may become complacent and start to believe that they have control over their addiction. However, this false sense of security can make them more vulnerable to relapse when faced with a trigger.
  • Co-occurring mental health issues – Many individuals struggling with alcoholism also suffer from co-occurring mental health issues such as anxiety, depression, or PTSD. These disorders can worsen during times of stress or when things are going well, leading to increased cravings for alcohol. For some individuals, using alcohol may have been a way to cope with their mental health issues. As a result, when things are good and their mental health improves, they may feel less of a need to use alcohol as a coping mechanism. However, this can also lead to complacency and eventually relapse.
  • Lack of support or coping mechanisms – Maintaining sobriety requires a lot of support and developing healthy coping mechanisms. When things are good, an alcoholic may feel like they no longer need this support or that their coping mechanisms are unnecessary. This can also be dangerous as it leaves them vulnerable to relapse when faced with challenging situations in the future.

For these reasons, along with the potentially dangerous side effects of attempting to stop drinking on one’s own, professional help is necessary for effective treatment.

The Importance of Relapse Prevention Therapy

Relapse prevention therapy is a psychotherapy treatment that focuses on preventing individuals from returning to unhealthy behaviors or habits, such as substance abuse or addictive behaviors. It is an essential component of addiction recovery and has been found to be highly effective in reducing relapse rates. Benefits of relapse prevention therapy include:

  • Identifies triggers – Relapse prevention therapy helps individuals identify the triggers that may lead them to engage in problematic behaviors. By understanding these triggers, individuals can learn to avoid or cope with them effectively.
  • Develops coping skills – Through various techniques and strategies, relapse prevention therapy helps individuals develop healthy coping mechanisms to deal with stress, negative emotions, and other challenges they may face during their recovery journey.
  • Encourages self-awareness – Relapse prevention therapy promotes self-awareness and reflection, helping individuals understand their thoughts, feelings, and behaviors. This awareness can lead to better decision-making and the ability to recognize warning signs of potential relapse.
  • Provides ongoing support – Relapse prevention therapy often involves ongoing support through individual or group therapy sessions. This support can help individuals stay motivated and accountable for maintaining their recovery.
  • Prevents future relapses – By equipping individuals with the necessary tools and skills, relapse prevention therapy can significantly reduce the likelihood of future relapses. It helps individuals create a plan to stay on track and manage any potential setbacks.

Relapse prevention therapy is a critical aspect of addiction recovery that helps individuals maintain their sobriety and prevent future relapses. If you or someone you know is struggling with addiction, consider seeking professional help and incorporating relapse prevention therapy into your treatment plan for the best chance of long-term recovery.

Prevent Relapse with Support from Skywood Outpatient

Relapse is common in addiction recovery, but the right support improves your chances of a successful outcome. Skywood Outpatient provides personalized care and individualized treatment plans to help individuals maintain their sobriety and prevent relapse. Call 248.617.6237 or contact us online today for more information.