Alcoholism and other types of substance addiction are often referred to as “relapsing conditions”. This is because many people who try to overcome alcoholism or substance abuse will likely experience a relapse during their recovery. Relapse is not a sign of treatment failure. However, just because a relapse can happen does not mean that individuals should take relapse lightly or reduce efforts to prevent a relapse from occurring. People who experience one or more relapses during recovery from alcoholism should be sure to receive the right treatment and relapse prevention strategies to reduce further risk.
Treatment for alcoholism may or may not be different after a relapse occurs. If the relapse was a one-time use, those in recovery may be able to continue in their recovery where they left off. Special emphasis should be placed on strengthening a relapse-prevention plan, identifying and avoiding triggers, handling cravings, and learning ways to respond to stressors rather than turning to alcohol use. If a relapse lasts for a period of time, it can be beneficial for alcoholics to attend a treatment program following successful detox from alcohol. The alcoholic may wish to choose a different type of treatment, or may wish to focus more on relapse prevention the next time around.
Is Alcoholism Treatment Less Effective after Relapse?
According to information provided by the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, around 90% of alcoholics experience at least one relapse episode during the first 4 years of recovery. These statistics may make treatment and recovery for alcoholism seem hopeless, but the truth is that many people can experience long-term abstinence, even for more than 40 years, as reported in Psychology Today. No matter if it is an alcoholic’s first time in treatment, or if the individual has experienced multiple relapses, alcohol treatment is more effective than trying to overcome alcoholism alone. In fact, those who attend treatment are twice as likely to fully recover than those who do not, according to a study published in the journal, Addiction.
Reducing the Risk of Relapse
The risk of relapse in alcoholism decreases the longer the individual remains sober. In the beginning, little more than 30% of recovering alcoholics will avoid relapse. After a year of remaining sober, the risk of relapse is reduced to less than half. After 5 years of sobriety, alcoholics have only a 15% chance of relapsing back into regular alcohol use. When a person is able to identify and avoid triggers and develop the life skills and coping skills necessary to resist cravings and stressors, they are more likely to succeed the longer they remain sober. Although relapse does occur, the longer a person remains sober, the less the risk of a relapse.
Get Help for Alcoholism after Relapse
If you are trying to quit alcoholism or if you have experienced a relapse, it is important to seek professional help immediately. Getting appropriate treatment can greatly increase your chance of quitting alcohol use for good. Getting the necessary help in developing a relapse prevention plan, along with life skills and coping skills training, can help you to get sober and remain clean for a better and more promising future.