What if I Relapse to Alcohol?

Last Updated: August 7, 2019

What if I Relapse to Alcohol?

Alcoholism is a destructive and dangerous addiction that causes physical as well as mental harm to the user. What makes the problem even worse is that the alcoholic’s state and behavior also affects those around him/her. Today, millions of people choose alcohol as their numbing “medicine” to avoid dealing with hard situations in life—instead of facing the problem they find solace in alcohol and choose to drink their pain away.

An alcohol relapse is when a person who is already sober from alcohol begins to drink again. Relapse usually comes with recognizable warning signs, and can be dealt with to prevent the person from returning to alcohol addiction again.

However, in spite of the temporary joy and relief alcohol may provide, some alcoholics are cognizant of the fact that their lifestyle cannot produce good results. As physical problems start to emerge such as tremors, extreme agitation, seizures and vomiting, the user is bound to seek help. The good news is that like most addictions alcoholism can be helped. Today, there are numerous rehab centers and support groups around the world that provide help to those in need, and fortunately, a great number of alcoholics manage to find a way out of this ruinous addiction.

However, staying sober in a world that offers alcohol so freely is harder than one can imagine. After months and months of grueling endeavor to say ”No!” to alcohol, the patient might find himself/ herself holding a glass of the forbidden beverage and having a sip for old time’s sake. This is what’s called a Slip. This seemingly harmless deed is not an unresolvable problem per se; however, if this practice turns into a daily routine, the Slip can lead to Relapse. Alcohol craving medications can help, however, it is impossible to take them all the time. That’s why it is important to cope with relapse without them.

What are the early signs of a relapse?

The signs of impending relapse include:
• You start remembering the past when you were still an addict.
• You stop attending alcohol help group meetings.
• Reaching out again to ex-drinking companions.
• You are thinking of tasting your liquor again.
• Ignoring people who help you stay sober.
• Rejection of constructive criticism.

Relapse, in essence, refers to the intoxicated state that the alcoholic falls back into after months or years of staying sober. The word ‘relapse’ itself means to undergo deterioration after a significant amount of time, in which the alcoholic achieved improvement.

How to Avoid Relapse

Relapse is not an uncommon occurrence among people who have fallen hostage to alcohol. Alcohol relapse triggers surround us every day and everywhere. Nonetheless, this event, so to say, does not happen over night; it usually comes with warning signs that the patient can recognize and deal with before falling back into the arms of liquor. The following are a few of the many signs to look out for relapse prevention:

  • You start reminiscing about the days when you were an alcohol abuser.
  • You stop going to your weekly/daily AA meetings—you become disconnected from your support group.
  • You may reach out to your ex-drinking buddies.
  • You may want to convince yourself that one shot of your favorite liquor cannot do any harm.
  • You start ignoring people and tools that help you stay sober.
  • You become unwilling to receive constructive criticism.

What to Do if the Relapse Has Occurred

If the relapse does occur, the most important thing to do is to put away pride and shame and deal with the consequences of those bad decisions. Relapse does not mean it is the end of the story; what it odes mean, however, is that there is a new chapter to embrace with some extra help. The sooner the alcoholic admits that he/she is facing a problem, the easier it will be to overcome it.

How do you recover from a relapse?

There are 5 steps of recovery in general and just 3 steps to recovering from relapse:

1. Take immediate action—admit your mistake to your AA sponsor so they can provide assistance to your recovery.
2. Take responsibility for your actions.
3. Join fellowships and recovery groups. These groups will provide you with emotional and spiritual support. They might also save you from your depression.

What to do if the Relapse has Occured

Step No. 1—Take Immediate Action

It is of vital importance that you immediately take the necessary actions after you realized that the relapse had occurred. Bear in mind that having a victim-like attitude will only lead to further aggravation of the problem, which in turn will make it harder to deal with the consequences. Calling or setting up a meeting with your AA sponsor is one of the very first recovery actions you are advised to take. Admitting that you relapsed is the first step you will have to take on the road to recovery.

Step No.2—Blaming Others Does Not Justify Your Irresponsibility

As harsh as it may sound, you have to take responsibility for your actions. The sad reality is that you may be dealing with a conglomeration of temptations on a daily basis, and saying “No!” to a life sparkling with alcohol is not easy by any stretch of the imagination. However, you have to remember that the consequences of your decisions will come back to haunt you, and nobody can take responsibly for that, but you.

Step No.3—Fellowship and Recovery Group

Dealing with relapse alone is infeasible, that is why contacting your fellow alcohol abusers, who are in recovery is paramount. Getting plugged into a good 12-step support group, in which you can lean on others for emotional and spiritual support, will help you deal with this predicament. Having someone to relate to your problem will eliminate the feeling of loneliness and can prevent potential depression. Attending meetings on a daily basis can also lessen your desire for alcohol, as your focus is steered into the direction of recovery.


In conclusion, in case you have missed the signs of an impending relapse and you find yourself having to deal with this difficulty, bear in mind that there is always hope to get your life back on track. Having a moment of weakness is not the worst things that can happen—not admitting that you have a (drinking) problem, however, can lead to irrevocable repercussions, such as various mental diseases or liver failure.

Additionally, remember to learn how to depend on others for support, and try to avoid turning most of your ties into acrimonious relationships.
After all, there is no drink in the world that can replace the love of your loved ones and alcohol addiction treatment is also available for everyone.


Brian Obinna Obodeze

Brian Obodeze

Content Writer

Brian Obinna Obodeze is a professional health-niche content developer for AlcoRehab.org with six years of experience as a research writer. He is an expert in medical content development, especially in the field of addictions, general health, homeopathic medicine, and pharmaceuticals.

Brian has a bachelor’s degree in Microbiology from the University of Benin and has worked as a Lab Scientist and as a public healthcare officer. His hobbies include physical fitness, reading, and social entrepreneurship.

Medical review by Dr. Gregory Okhifun

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