Alcohol Relapse: The Real Challenge After Addiction Recovery


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Alcohol abuse can start at an early age – sometimes as early as 12 years old or even younger, although starting in adolescence is more typical. When someone starts at an early age, the ability to stop at some point can be especially difficult. The longer the abuse continues, the harder it usually is to get sober. Alcoholism is one of the most dreadful conditions and one of the hardest to overcome. Unfortunately, many alcoholics who do become sober for a period of time end up relapsing for one reason or another. One of the most common reasons for alcohol relapse is the inability to resist the powerful temptation to drink. 

Most experts believe that the stages of relapse often occur due to influence by others who abuse alcohol as well. After all, people abuse alcohol for a variety of reasons. They may believe that alcohol – or rather the emotional numbness it temporarily provides – is essential for coping with a recent job loss, depression or anxiety, a broken marriage, the inability to find a job, and a whole host of other life problems. For others, what starts off as a way to relax, pass the time, or take their time off of something soon becomes a habit – a habit that eventually takes over their life. 

There are many things that can trigger the downward spiral into alcoholism for those who are vulnerable to addiction. A significant personal failure can trigger the beginning of alcohol addiction. A traumatic event or a history of physical or sexual abuse is also a common trigger. Anything that makes a person susceptible to self-medicating with alcohol or other substances can be a major contributing factor. The most common reasons include the following:

  • Pressure is one of the most frequently quoted reasons for alcohol abuse. People who have a highly demanding work schedule with tight deadlines may turn to alcohol as a means of relief. What happens is that, as time goes on, they become to rely on it as a way to cope. In time, they feel that they can’t cope or function without it.
  • Relationship failure – such as a breakup or divorce or even the end of a close friendship – is another common reason why people start abusing alcohol. They start drinking in order to numb the pain and forget the loss; in time, it becomes a habit that is difficult to break. When they don’t drink, the painful feelings come flooding back, leading them to drink again in order to cope.
  • Insomnia is another factor that has led many vulnerable individuals down the path of alcoholism. Sleep is so essential to being able to perform well and get through each day. Those who can’t turn to alcohol to help them fall asleep – even though it backfires in the long run. What starts as a temporary thing turns into a serious habit.

When it comes to reasons for alcohol relapse, they are often the same as listed above. The alcoholic becomes sober, but when faced with significant pressure or stress, a relationship failure or other serious loss, or a troubling condition like insomnia, the urge to drink to cope often wins, and alcohol relapse is the unfortunate result.

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