Treatment for alcoholism is not a short-term quick fix. The alcoholic person must commit and recommit to a life free from the effects of alcohol addiction, every time the temptation to drink appears. While some people who have abused alcohol in the past are able to moderate their drinking to normal levels, many find that total abstinence is the only way to regain control of their drinking and their lives. Once detox is complete and abstinence is achieved, many find that once the crisis phase has passed, they must make qualitative life changes that reinforce their commitment to an alcohol-free life if they are to avoid relapse.
Remove temptations: Don’t keep alcohol in your home. Avoid going to bars or other locations you once frequented while drinking.
Support system: AA utilizes sponsors, peers who have been in the program for a period of time, to mentor new members and provide a buddy system to help prevent relapse. People who are not in AA can use this model by seeking support from friends and family who have also been through treatment. In general, building a system of support made up of family and friends will create accountability and lend emotional support during times of temptation.
Daily reminders/ Make sobriety your priority: Remind yourself- through journaling, objects in your home, or other ways—of why you worked so hard to become sober. Remember that returning to your drinking life can mean losing all you’ve worked so hard to build, and that if you never take another drink, you will never have to go through the same experience again.
Establish a routine: Create things you need to ‘show up for’ and stick to your routine.
Keep busy: Fill your time with activities you enjoy, that reinforce your health and well-being, instead of drinking.
Cope with social situations: Have a non-alcoholic drink of choice that is your go-to order when in restaurant or party situations, so you don’t even have to consider drinking alcohol. If others pressure you to drink, there’s no need to explain that you are in recovery unless you wish to—just say, ‘no thanks’.
If you relapse, be kind to yourself and recommit. Try to assess what went wrong and correct it, or consider a different treatment option.
Remember that ultimately, being sober is not just about not drinking—it is about choosing a positive, healthy life!
After an intensive period of treatment, some feel that a structured program of ongoing support would be beneficial. Learn more about aftercare>