What To Do When Your Alcoholic Spouse Relapses – Throughout recovery, many people with alcohol addiction face major challenges in refraining from returning to drinking and relapse. In this guide, we’ll take a look at what causes a relapse, how to get back on the road to recovery after a relapse, and the warning signs to look out for in the future.
Relapse is a normal and common part of the recovery process, and no matter how long or hard you commit to your recovery plan, there is always the possibility that you will experience a relapse due to the nature of addiction. In fact, research shows that over 30% of people who try to get sober relapse within the first 12 months.
What To Do When Your Alcoholic Spouse Relapses
Once someone becomes addicted to alcohol, their brain no longer works the way it used to and they crave alcohol to make it work the way it used to. Even after years of sobriety, the way the brain has adapted to alcohol can lead to intense cravings.
Relapse Prevention Plan Template [pdf]
Usually, an alcohol relapse is triggered by an emotion, person, place or thing that reminds the person of their previous relationship with alcohol. When the brain processes this memory, it triggers an intense craving. There have been cases of people staying sober for over ten years and then relapsing, proving that recovery is an ongoing journey.
Sometimes, individuals do not even realize they are experiencing a relapse. They often become overconfident in their ability to manage their addiction and think “just one drink won’t hurt.”
This is when the person begins to suppress their emotions, leading to feelings of anxiety and isolation. This will often lead to them failing to stick to their recovery plan, perhaps missing appointments or choosing new, unhealthy coping mechanisms.
When a person mentally relapses, they begin to feel cravings, spend more time thinking about their triggers, ruminating, or misremembering their relationship with alcohol. They may also start lying or hiding things from those close to them and start planning to have a drink.
The Top 10 Relapse Prevention Skills
Once a person has given in to the cravings and started drinking again, they have physically relapsed.
To effectively prevent a relapse, you must first learn the telltale warning signs. These can be different for each person, however, some of the more common signs of an impending relapse include:
If you notice a sudden change in your behavior or find that you are no longer attending rehab meetings, this can be a big warning sign of a relapse on its way.
If you’ve been feeling more stressed recently, whether at work, at home, or in your social life, you’re at a much higher risk of relapse because stress is one of the biggest triggers. Be sure to practice healthy coping skills to try to reduce your stress levels, e.g. take a bath, do a hobby you enjoy, get a lot of sleep and talk about it with a friend or loved one.
What To Do After A Relapse
Sometimes, before a relapse occurs, individuals begin to withdraw from family and friends, becoming increasingly isolated. Be sure to reach out to your loved ones if you start to feel isolated.
When you get out of recovery, you may start to forget all the bad elements of your alcohol addiction and begin to romanticize your drinking memories, remembering only the good times you had. Having this perception of your addiction can be incredibly dangerous, especially if you start to miss the “good old days” and lifestyle you used to live.
If your structure and routine have recently been disrupted e.g. if you’ve lost your job, just had a baby, or stopped doing the things you normally do, this can lead to relapse, as many recovering addicts rely on routine to keep them busy and coping well.
A sudden outburst of emotions may indicate that you are experiencing high levels of stress or suffering from mental health problems such as anxiety or depression. Be sure to reach out to a loved one or see your doctor to discuss your mental health.
Common Reasons For Relapse & How To Avoid It
If you find yourself becoming secretive or lying about what you’re doing to sneak alcohol into your home or out with friends, you’re at a very high risk of relapse and should tell a loved one immediately, even if it means getting into trouble . Remember, they’d rather know the truth now than later when it’s too late.
Sudden increases in cravings can be one of the biggest causes of relapse as it can be incredibly difficult to resist and many succumb to the temptation.
If you are struggling with an alcohol addiction or notice any of the warning signs that a relapse is likely to occur, don’t hesitate to reach out to our team where we can help you determine if you need to return to rehab to prevent a relapse.
If you’ve already relapsed, don’t lose hope. Talk to our team to discuss whether you should go to rehab. The holiday season puts pressure on people to indulge and sometimes they relapse. Maintaining a sober lifestyle becomes more difficult, especially for those in early recovery. Take action before the cravings start and you’ll have a better chance of preventing a relapse during the holiday season. These five steps will help you manage holiday stress and anxiety.
Relapse Triggers (infographic)
Many people struggle to make ends meet during the holiday season. Three of these reasons include a non-sober environment, high stress levels and unrealistic expectations.
A non-sober environment is often where people in recovery find themselves on any holiday. They are surrounded by friends and family who are wrapped up in the holiday spirit. This means parties, music and often alcohol.
Another side effect of the holidays is the high level of stress. This stress occurs when worries about shopping, cooking, and visiting family pile up on top of everyday life.
Finally, the third reason someone could fall from a life of recovery to relapse is unrealistic expectations. People often think that this year will be better than last year or even perfect. However, most of the time, this is not the case. Frustration at this fact can lead to an emotional trigger and ultimately a relapse.
Alcohol Relapse Triggers
Prepare for the holidays and know what to do before things go wrong. To do this, you should ask yourself important questions like these:
…and not only in drugs and alcohol. Activities and people can push you into situations you don’t want to be in. Make sure you’re prepared to say no, even if it might be hurtful or uncomfortable. Your sobriety should be the most important thing to you. To maintain it, you can say things like:
Meetings, sponsors, coaches and advisors all understand what you’re going through better than your friends and family. Breaks can be hard, especially earlier in sobriety. During these times, you should lean more heavily on your support programs. They are here to help and will help make sure you can get through the season with your sobriety. Here are some dos and don’ts to help you with this:
Look beyond the traditions of the season and discover the true purpose and joy of the holidays. This is an important issue when trying to avoid a holiday relapse. You can do three things to discover the true purpose of the holidays: give thanks, share love, and celebrate beginnings.
How To Reduce The Chances Of A Relapse
The first way to discover the true purpose of the holidays is to give thanks. Find gratitude in every moment, even the chaotic ones. If you can’t seem to find gratitude in difficult situations, you should try keeping a list of your blessings in your pocket to remind you of what you have to be thankful for.
Another thing you can do is share love instead of physical things. The holiday season is about much more than presents under a tree. Spend time, not money, with those who encourage, inspire and support you. Build a stronger relationship with these people and show them the love and appreciation you have for them.
Finally, you should celebrate your beginning. Every day comes a reason to celebrate sobriety. Focus on how you got to where you are and all the things that make you happy to be there. Let your joy be contagious throughout this holiday season.
You don’t need a Christmas miracle to stay sober during the holidays. If at any point you need assistance, please call 1-877-577-0012 for support. Although a relapse is a normal part of the recovery process for some people, you may feel unprepared for how to handle it. Without adequate help, your responses to the situation could end up creating more challenges for both of you and your loved one.
Avoiding Relapse During Crisis
Here are some productive ways to prepare for handling the rapidly changing and unpredictable circumstances when a sober partner relapses and starts drinking or using drugs again.
How you respond to a sober partner’s return to alcohol or drug use is vital to helping them quickly return to recovery. Educating