3 Tips for Avoiding a Relapse

Posted on by Tom
Avoiding a Relapse
Avoiding a Relapse

This article is geared towards the problem drinker who has already quit drinking and already has a few days or weeks of sobriety.

Once you or your loved one has gotten past the withdrawals from alcohol, what can they do to start building a happy and healthy life free from drinking?

We will discuss three things the former drinker can do to feel better and stay in a good mood so that they will be less likely to feel the need to drink.

The 3 strategies are exercise, meditation, and spending time with friends who are not drinking.

#1. Exercise


Excessive alcohol consumption is very damaging to the body, and it’s vital that healthy habits are established to get the former drinker’s body back to proper health. An exercise routine should be established and practised daily.

Exercise has been proven to improve mood, brain function, and physical health. Physical exercise causes the release of endorphins, a feel-good chemical which is the cause of “runner’s high”. Seeking out endorphins with exercise is a healthy way for the former drinker to pursue pleasurable feelings.

One should consult with a doctor before beginning an exercise routine, just to make sure there are no health risks such as heart issues. After approval, the former drinker should immediately begin by walking or biking when they need to go somewhere nearby. Establishing this habit will begin the process of increasing energy levels.

The former drinker should, for the first two weeks or so, try jogging or walking for at least one mile every day. In early human history, people had to walk everywhere they went.

Walking places is a return to healthy and natural human living after long periods of often being inside and drinking all day. Being outside and seeing the trees and sky will also improve the former drinker’s mood and decrease any depression they might be experiencing during this difficult time in their life.

Another part of an exercise routine can be weightlifting, as long as the former drinker is healthy enough to do so. The former drinker can either buy weights for the home (expensive gym sets are unnecessary, dumbbells will do just fine) or get a gym membership.

Lifting weights and building muscle will begin a programme of self-improvement that will improve the former drinker’s self-image and give them healthy goals to work towards. Lifting weights will also make the former drinker feel much better physically. It’s important to avoid overworking oneself in weightlifting, to take regular days off, and to eat plenty of food.

Weightlifting and aerobic exercise may serve other important purposes in the former drinker’s recovery by countering the effects of extended alcohol withdrawal: it can increase appetite by burning calories and combat insomnia by tiring the ex-drinker out.

A balanced exercise program will help the former drinker’s body to recover and regain its natural metabolic and sleeping rhythms.

Also Read: The Benefits Of Sobriety After Alcohol Rehab

#2. Meditation


Meditation, or quieting the mind, is a great way to improve mental health, increase the ability to focus, and reduce stress, anxiety, and depression.

Buddhist monks meditate for long periods of time every day, and those who have been studied report consistently high levels of well-being and happiness.

The benefits of meditation could take up an entire article of this size but suffice it to say that meditating twice a day will make the former drinker a more balanced and healthier human being.

How does meditation work?

There are a wide variety of methods, but a basic method on which variations can be based is as follows. Sit down with your legs crossed and your spine erect, with your hands flat on your legs. Close your eyes either halfway or completely.

Breathe in deeply and slowly, hold it for a few seconds, then breathe out deeply and slowly. As you breathe out, count 1 in your head. Repeat this all the way up to five, then restart. This counting functions as a mantra, or repeated phrase which quiets the mind, and a way to maintain focus.

When thoughts occur, simply acknowledge them and let them pass by. Thoughts are natural, and you don’t need to force yourself not to think, but don’t grasp onto your thoughts and continue them.

You are working to clear your mind. Clearing your mind with meditation will relax you and allow you to think more clearly. If you find yourself falling asleep, open your eyes for a while.

With practice, you’ll be able to meditate for longer without getting sleepy. When you begin meditating, do it twice a day for five or ten minutes at a time, and work your way up over a few weeks to doing it for twenty to thirty minutes at a time, twice a day.

If you are not a fan of counting, there are alternative mantras you can use. A good rule for mantras is to make them relevant to the goals of meditation, for example, repeating in your head with every breath, “Empty mind” or “Pure peace”.

Take meditation seriously and practice it regularly. It will help you find balance in your life and it will reduce the urge to drink. There is a vast array of literature which demonstrates that meditation is useful in overcoming addiction.

Once you establish a meditation habit, you will look forward to it as a time of peace and calm in a life which can often be stressful and hectic.

Regular meditation = stronger sobriety.

 

#3. Spending Time with Friends Who Aren’t Drinking


To be clear, a former drinker working to stay sober doesn’t need to exclusively have friends who never drink.

But their friends must be people who don’t have destructive drinking tendencies, and their friends must be willing to not drink when they’re spending time with the former drinker.

Recovering alcoholics who are advanced in their sobriety can be around people who drink sometimes, but those who are early on in their sobriety are best off if they avoid being around drinking altogether.

This means not hanging out at bars or parties with heavy drinking.

AA has a saying: “Avoid wet places and wet faces.”

Being in places where alcohol is abused and being around people who abuse alcohol is to risk a relapse and all the devastation that can bring.

If you are a former drinker and have a friend who wants you to drink with him after you explain why you shouldn’t, that is not really your friend. If you explain to your friend why you must stay sober and they immediately stop trying to tempt you and don’t do it again, that’s a real friend.

If a friend is willing to avoid bringing alcohol around you and to give up drinking it around you, that’s a real friend. You need real friends if you want to stay sober. Real friends will be supportive of your life choice and work with you, not against you.

As a former drinker working to stay sober, you’ll need to meet new people with whom you have common interests to spend time with.

Being around friends will make you feel better and happier, and it will prevent the loneliness which has caused many a relapse. Good places to make new friends are at AA, community events, online and via social media, and in church or other community buildings. Reach out and talk to people you don’t know well.

Interacting with strangers can be tough or awkward, and you won’t have the alcohol to ease social anxiety, but it will be well worth the effort once you make new friends.

You may want to get involved with a sports league or other group that does physical activity. Volunteering is also a great way to meet new people. Be involved with positive group activities, and you won’t want to numb your mind with alcohol.

Get together some friends and go to the movies, go bowling, or go to a concert. Write these suggestions down and do them! If you are reading this because someone you care about is getting sober, show these suggestions to them with helpful hints on how to implement them.

During recovery from addiction, isolation is dangerous. A recovering alcoholic or addict must connect with other human beings. Spending time with other people will make any person healthier, happier, and give their life a sense of purpose.

Doing good deeds for others has been shown to be especially powerful in supporting sobriety. Problem drinking is inherently selfish behaviour, and by helping others on a regular basis and developing generous habits, the former drinker becomes the kind of person who wouldn’t act selfishly.

Isolation is bad

GETTING HELP 


Getting help early can prevent experiencing severe consequences of drinking or disrupting the lives of loved ones.

Call our local number 01603 513 091

How to Know if You have a Drinking Problem

Posted on by Tom
How to Know if You have a Drinking Problem
Am I an Alcoholic?

Many people drink on occasion, and not all drinking is harmful. People can drink alcohol to unwind, to ease social anxiety, and to feel good.

But a surprisingly large number of people become addicted to alcohol, using it on an everyday basis both because they enjoy its relaxing and euphoric effects and because they want to avoid the withdrawal symptoms that would occur if they didn’t drink for the day: agitation, anxiety, insomnia, dysphoria, etc.

However, many people are still able to only have a few drinks a day and keep a job and avoid problems with their family. But what of the remainder?

The remainder, who binge drink and/or drink every day and commonly have more than a few drinks, and do have problems with friends, family, and their ability to be productive in life, are the problem drinkers.

Problem drinkers, also called alcoholics, are so addicted to alcohol that their life becomes filled with problems and is often quite unpleasant. The consequences of their heavy drinking are detrimental to their health, both physical and mental, to their social relationships, to their work productivity, and to their ability to make responsible and ethical decisions.

When a drinker becomes a problem drinker, they stand to benefit greatly from quitting drinking alcohol and stand to lose greatly by continuing along the path of their destructive addiction. So, how do you know if you’re a problem drinker?

Major Signs of a Drinking Problem


First, you need to stop and think about whether your drinking is causing you problems. Try to answer these questions out loud, or in writing.

  • Are you becoming excessively drunk on occasion, or even on a regular basis?
  • Are you spending too much money on alcohol, more than you can easily afford?
  • Do you lose control when you’re drunk and do things you regret?
  • Do you ever blackout and have memory gaps?
  • Do you find yourself regretting having slept with certain people while you were drunk?
  • Do you ever get in fights while drunk?
  • Do you drive while drunk and thereby risk disaster?
  • Is drinking interfering with your relationships with friends and family, or causing your work performance to suffer?
  • Do you drink while you are at work or school?
  • Do you depend on alcohol to fall asleep?
  • Has a romantic relationship with a significant other ever ended partially or primarily as a result of your drinking or the things you did while drunk?
  • Have you physically, verbally, or sexually abused someone while you were drunk?
  • Do you wish you were able to quit drinking, but find yourself consistently unable to for longer than a few days or weeks?
  • Do you consume 4-6 drinks per day or more?
  • Do you binge drink on the weekends and consume very large amounts of alcohol? (for example, 24-packs of beer, entire fifths of liquor, etc.)
  • Try to name the things you’ve lost as a result of drinking or being drunk, for example by writing a list.

 

If you’re answering yes to a lot of these questions, or even to one, or have lost/are losing important things as a result of drinking, quitting drinking may be a very good idea.

But these are just some of the broadest ways to determine if you have a drinking problem. In the following two sections, we will explore the physical and then the psychological indications that you might have a drinking problem.

If the descriptions match you, it may mean you have a drinking problem.

Physical Signs of a Drinking Problem


There are many physical ailments and symptoms connected with excessive alcohol consumption.

They fall into two groups: Those caused by the alcohol itself, and those caused by the withdrawal when there is not as much alcohol in the body as it has become accustomed to.

Those caused by hangovers and withdrawal are often characterized by overstimulation, such as increased blood pressure and heart rate, shaking (especially in the hands), agitation, muscular tenseness, restlessness, and insomnia, and bodily discomfort, such as headaches, muscle aches, hypersensitivity to light and noise, nausea, lack of appetite, and diarrhea.

If you are having significant withdrawals from alcohol, including hangovers, you are either addicted or consumed too much at once. Either way, alcohol is causing you a problem, and you need to drink less of it in order to stay healthy.

Many normal drinkers have hangovers from time to time, but if hangovers happen often or are severe, then it indicates a problem. And if you start shaking when you haven’t had a drink in a while, it’s a very clear sign that you are addicted to alcohol.

Physical ailments caused by the drinking itself are vast and can be very serious and even life-threatening. In large quantities, alcohol is toxic/harmful to the heart, liver, kidneys, pancreas, and stomach.

Chronic heavy drinking can cause heart attacks, heart disease, stroke, cirrhosis of the liver, kidney disease, and diabetes (pancreas failure). Millions of human beings have died from the cumulative effects of drinking too much alcohol. The best way to determine if you are suffering from organ damage from drinking is by visiting a doctor.

Here are some lists of symptoms of two major diseases caused by drinking, so you can know if you need to visit a doctor. First, there is cirrhosis of the liver. Symptoms of cirrhosis usually don’t show up until the damage is extensive, so if you are a drinker and see these symptoms, you may be in serious danger and should visit a doctor immediately.

They include:

  • fatigue
  • nausea
  • weight loss
  • chronically itchy skin
  • yellowing eyes and skin
  • fluid buildup in the abdomen
  • easily bleeding or bruising
  • spiderlike blood vessels that you can see through the skin
  • confusion
  • drowsiness
  • and slurred speech.

 

Some of these are also symptoms of drinking (like nausea), but you should still see a doctor if they are serious.

Second, there is kidney disease and kidney failure. Too much drinking can seriously and/or permanently damage the kidneys. If you see any of the following signs of kidney disease, go see a doctor.

They include waking up often in the night to urinate, blood in the urine, bubbly or foamy urine, dark urine, urinating far too often or not enough, fatigue, swelling in the hands, legs, feet, etc., nausea, rashes, chills and feeling cold (even in warm places), and abdominal pain.

Lesser physical symptoms of excessive drinking may appear/occur while drunk, or in between periods of drinking. The most common ones are nausea and vomiting, dizziness, lack of coordination and balance, speech problems and slurred speech, blurry or double vision, sweating, lowered heart rate and blood pressure, slowed breathing, and loss of consciousness.

If you are experiencing these symptoms often during your alcohol consumption, you may be going overboard and have a drinking problem.

Not everyone who drinks vomits often, and not everyone who drinks has trouble walking. If these things happen on a regular basis, it is a serious warning sign.

Psychological Signs of a Drinking Problem


The psychological symptoms of having a drinking problem include the effects that the alcohol has, the withdrawal effects, and the obsession with drinking that controls the thoughts, words and actions of the problem drinker. We will begin by discussing the symptoms of the obsession.

If you drink often enough or heavily enough, you will develop an emotional attachment to getting drunk and it will become very important to you to get as much alcohol as you want.

Being stopped from drinking will be incredibly frustrating, and you will go to great lengths to ensure that nothing and no one can stop you from drinking. You will use mental tricks to deny how much you have drunk, such as not counting certain drinks because they were of a certain type or consumed several hours ago.

Problem drinkers have a complex system of denial set up so that they can convince themselves and others that they do not have a problem.

If you’re working hard to convince people that you don’t have a drinking problem, it’s likely because you don’t want to admit it because that might mean you have to stop.

A problem drinker often does not want to stop drinking. Not drinking is unpleasant to them and robs them of something they enjoy greatly.

They will ignore the costs of their drinking and focus only on the perceived benefits, essentially claiming that “it’s not a big deal, everybody drinks”. While it is true that drinking is widespread in our society, not everyone has serious problems in their lives because of alcohol.

And if you do have problems because of drinking, you should stop drinking. It’s that simple.

During drinking, a problem drinker will become excessively drunk and lose their inhibitions, often doing risky things that they would not do in a sober state. They may become aggressive/violent and have mood swings, they may have trouble focusing, hearing, and speaking, and they may become sad or depressed.

They may blackout and lose all memory for certain periods of drunkenness. A problem drinker may be out of control while drunk and they may commit crimes or act irrationally. They may be abusive to their loved ones and lash out both verbally and physically. If your drinking causes harm to other people, you have a drinking problem and need to stop drinking.

During periods of withdrawal from drinking, psychological indications that one is a problem drinker include serious anxiety, depression, irritability, confusion and problems thinking, and extreme urges to drink.

The problem drinker will be very uncomfortable and want to drink to alleviate the withdrawal symptoms. If you need alcohol to not be in physical and psychological pain, you probably have a drinking problem.

GETTING HELP 


Getting help early can prevent experiencing severe consequences of drinking or disrupting the lives of loved ones.

Call our local number 01603 513 091