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Apex Recovery Blog

Causes of Alcohol Relapse You Should Be Aware Of

a person holds a glass of liquor while looking anxious and defeated

Alcohol relapse is a normal part of recovery. Yes, you read that right: relapse is normal and doesn’t make you a failure.

40-60% of people relapse, but it’s about what you do after relapsing that makes a world of difference. Alcohol relapse can be triggered by negative life events, stress, anxiety, or negative emotions like guilt or resentment.

The risk of alcohol relapse is always present for someone who is in recovery and has struggled with addiction in the past. If you are currently struggling to remain sober after managing to do so previously, it could be due to one or more of the following reasons.

Understanding the common causes of alcohol relapse and learning how to avoid them will help you remain sober moving forward. Read on now to learn more.

1. Depression or Other Co-Occurring Disorders

Depression is a common cause of alcohol relapse. Individuals who suffer from alcohol use disorder frequently experience depressive symptoms such as:

  • Low mood
  • Hopelessness
  • Worthlessness

In many cases, these individuals do not receive proper treatment for their depression. They continue drinking as a form of self-medication. If you were depressed in the past and were treated for it, it is possible that your depressive symptoms have resurfaced or that you did not properly address them.

In both cases, dealing with your depression once again may be a good way to prevent alcohol relapse. Another possibility is that you are not dealing with an episode of depression you’ve had, but rather you’re dealing with an undiagnosed co-occurring disorder.

People who abuse alcohol are likely to have one or more mental health disorders that go untreated. As a result, you may self-medicate your underlying mental illness with alcohol.

If this is the case, addressing your co-occurring disorder may be helpful in preventing alcohol relapse.

2. An Abrupt Change In Environment

Most people who have been sober for a period of time have established a support network of friends, family members, or other individuals. These are people who have helped them through recovery.

A change in one’s social support network can cause stress and anxiety, increasing the risk of alcohol relapse. One way to avoid this is to remain open to new friendships and support networks.

However, if you are currently in a situation where you are surrounded by individuals who support your sobriety but the environment is causing you stress, you may be at risk of alcohol relapse.

In these cases, you may need to reassess your current situation and find an environment that is more supportive of your sobriety. You may also need to seek therapy or counseling to help you deal with the anxiety that your current environment has caused.

A change in one’s environment can wreak havoc on sobriety.

3. Frequent Use of Alcohol After Recovery

Some individuals who have been sober for some time begin to engage in high-risk drinking, which is often referred to as “drinking above the line.” This involves the consumption of one or more alcoholic beverages per day.

Ongoing alcohol use after sobriety may be a warning sign that relapse is coming. It’s a sign that you’re nearing a relapse and you might not realize it.

If you are drinking consistently, you may be at risk of alcohol relapse. In addition, frequent alcohol use following sobriety is likely to lead to the development of a problem with alcohol.

This can be especially harmful if you have a family history of alcohol use disorder.

4. Meaningful Relationships that Have Been Lost

Some individuals who are in recovery from alcohol use disorder end up losing meaningful relationships, such as a relationship with a spouse or a parent.

While the loss of these relationships may be valid, it may cause you to experience guilt or resentment.

The emotions associated with these losses may lead you to drink alcohol, which can cause you to relapse. If you are experiencing guilt or resentment and cannot effectively manage these emotions, you may be at risk of alcohol relapse.

The best way to deal with these emotions is to seek therapy or counseling. You can engage in self-care practices that promote emotional health and healing. Doing so may help you avoid alcohol relapse.

5. Exclusion Rituals Such as Exercise or Showering Before Bedtime

Some individuals in recovery from alcohol use disorder engage in what are known as “exclusion rituals.” An exclusion ritual is a routine or behavior performed before bedtime and is meant to help the individual avoid a slip-up or relapse.

Exclusion rituals such as exercising, showering, or eating a specific food before bed are common, but they are not always helpful.

Exclusion rituals that are not helpful include:

  • Watching tv
  • Keeping the lights on
  • Being around others that could tempt you to use

If any of these exclusion rituals are part of your routine, it may be time to discard them. Doing so may help when you’re looking into preventing alcohol relapse.

Alcohol Relapse Causes

Alcohol relapse is an unfortunate reality for those who have managed to recover from alcohol addiction. If you are currently in recovery and are concerned about the potential for relapse, taking steps to prevent it is the best way to ensure that you remain sober moving forward.

The best way to avoid alcohol relapse is to be aware of the common causes of relapse. You can then implement strategies that help you avoid falling victim to them. Let Apex Recovery help you or your loved one today.

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