Recovering from alcohol addiction is not a one-time event. Alcoholism is a chronic disease, and detoxification is a major step on the road to recovery, but rehabilitation is an ongoing journey on a road fraught with the perils of relapse.
Any truly effective program will help addicts to be aware of relapse dangers so they can be avoided and so as to establish ways of dealing with dangers that can’t be avoided. An addiction hotline is an important element of success in long-term recovery for alcohol rehabs.
Alcoholism is a chronic disease, meaning its effects are long-lasting and cannot be simply cured like other diseases. Though there is no direct and definitive cause, recent research has identified certain factors that contribute to alcoholism, including:
Genetic Factors. If a close relative is an alcoholic, there is a much greater risk for the person to become an alcoholic. However, there is no evidence that having one type of gene causes alcoholism.
Social Factors. Heavy drinking of alcohol is generally more prevalent among certain groups of people, such as college students. Alcohol abuse long-term is also another risk factor for developing alcoholism.
Psychological Factors. According to the Mayo Clinic, these include high stress and/or anxiety levels, emotional pain, low self-esteem, and depression. Drinking under these circumstances is often called “self-medicating,” because the person is abusing alcohol to “treat” one or more emotional and/or psychological problems.
It is important to note that while all of these may be contributing factors, none of them definitively mean the person will be or remain an alcoholic. They are simply a part of the toolkit of awareness that will help those who have suffered from addiction to remain addiction-free after rehab. “Risk is not destiny.”
The most common relapse triggers include:
Becoming overconfident. Feeling one has “made it” and becoming lax about self-discipline or not as concerned with being vigilant about substance abuse.
Self-pity/depression. In Alcoholics Anonymous they describe self-pity as: “poor me, poor me, pour me a drink.” Feeling like a victim and blaming other people, places or things for a situation can trigger a relapse. This can tie into unrealistic expectations for recovery (expecting things to improve overnight and feeling hopeless when that doesn’t materialize); lying and other forms of dishonesty (“dry drunk” syndrome where one continues the destructive behaviors of alcoholism even when not drinking.) Complicating this is potential post-acute withdrawal symptoms (PAWS), which can last as long as a year.
Additional triggers: expecting too much of other people, taking recovery for granted, abusing other substances.
Four of the most common relapse triggers are identified using the acronym HALT: Hunger, Anger, Loneliness, Tiredness. When the individual is experiencing any of these things, they will be at higher risk of relapse.
Hope, Help, and Hotlines
Far from being a sentence to lifetime alcoholism, these factors and triggers all provide useful information that helps one successfully steer one’s own life and recovery.
Because there is a number of contributing factors and triggers, and because every person is an individual facing unique circumstances, it’s difficult to rubber stamp a road map for avoiding relapse. Thus the extreme value of being able to call a qualified, knowledgeable and caring person, such as a rehab hotline consultant, who can help walk one through the crisis.
One phone call can change a life or save one from relapse. There are many hotlines and helplines, not all of which are available 24/7, thus the value of having a list that one persists through until reaching a live person who will be happy to render the appropriate assistance.