How to help an alcoholic not to relapse?

The process of maintaining abstinence – that is, not using – is complicated, which is why it is important not to let your guard down and to keep working so that you do not fall into the habit.

Considering the difficulty and the lability of the situation, it is essential to begin to train and sensitize the patient during the therapy to the possible risky situations that he may encounter, so that he can manage them effectively. To this end, there are specific programs to prevent relapse into alcohol consumption.

Likewise, it will also be important that the subject’s immediate environment such as family and friends collaborate, strengthen them, support them and motivate them to continue the process and help them create a healthy and moving environment. , places, situations and people that encourage you to consume and thus be a support with whom you can communicate, express what you feel without being judged and support them if you need to seek professional help.

In this article you will find a summary of the main characteristics of alcoholism and some useful techniques and strategies used by healthcare professionals and those around the addict that are used to help prevent relapse into alcohol use.

    Characteristics of alcoholism

    Alcoholism is one of the most common disorders associated with substance use, classified in the fifth edition of the Diagnostic Manual of the American Psychiatric Association (DSM 5) as a condition that can seriously affect a person’s quality of life. Statistically, it arises differently according to the sex of the population, with a proportion of 12.2% for men against 4.9% for women; we see how alcohol-related disorders occur more in men than in women as with other addictions. There are also differences by age, with 4.6% in subjects between 12 and 17 years against subjects over 18 years with 8.5%.

    Therefore, the age of onset of the disease is usually between 20 and 30 years, in the youthful stage and in which it is common to consume alcoholic beverages in recreational settings, usually the first alcohol poisoning before the age of 20.

    Likewise, this condition also influences the possibility of developing another comorbid disorder, doubling the likelihood of another psychiatric disorder, the most common being bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, depressive and anxiety disorders, and antisocial personality disorder.

    Alcohol acts as a central nervous system depressant, affecting and injuring different areas of the brain such as the mammary bodies, which are part of the limbic system and are primarily related to memory or the thalamus, an emotional and sensory integrating organ that sends and receives information from the cerebral cortex. Thus, alcohol is the psychoactive substance which has the greatest impact on the personal, social and health life of those affected, increasing the risk of suicide and death.

    For these reasons, it will be essential to treat the alcohol disorder effectively, as well as to work and prepare the patient for possible situations of risk of relapse.

      How to help a person avoid alcoholism

      As with other addictive disorders, there is likely to be a decrease in consumption. For this reason, it will be important to work, prepare and give tools to patients so that they can face different risky situations that increase the likelihood of relapse both during treatment and especially after the end of treatment, when he no longer receives as much support, because the process of maintaining abstinence is just as complicated as that of detoxification.

      Likewise, the support and work given to prevent relapse comes from the therapist, but it is also essential and beneficial that the patient’s environment as well as his family and friends are made aware of the problem and cooperate in the treatment and maintenance. abstinence.

        Professional training in relapse prevention

        In this way, it is essential to start working with the patient during the therapy sessions on possible situations of risk of relapse and possible consumption that may arise. For this reason there is a specific relapse prevention model created by Marlatt and Gordon; this suggests that there are several variables that influence relapse, whether individual, physiological, situational or socio-cultural.

        These authors point out as an essential component of this training to explain to the patient the difference between fall and relapse, as this is confusing, but they are not the same. In the first case, in the fall, there is only isolated consumption, that is, the patient has started drinking again in a specific situation or time. On the other hand, relapse does mean getting back into the habit of consuming.

        Likewise, Marlatt and Gordon distinguish three cognitive factors that influence the relapse process which are: self-efficacy, which is your self-confidence to achieve your goals, consumer expectations and attribution of causation.

        Thus, specific programs are offered for the prevention of relapses, appearing as components such as psychoeducation, where you are taught the difference between fall and relapse, by announcing that relapses are possible and that this does not mean the end of the rehabilitation process. are not a failure; consider and analyze the variables that can cause its collapse; work on skills to cope with these risky situations, train them to persevere in non-consumption and work on coping and lifestyle to promote abstinence.

        This way, it is important to talk about the possibility of relapses so that a plan of action can be created to prevent them.. You will also be asked about all the possible stimuli and risky situations that you might encounter and especially to consider those which are most likely to occur; for example, certain people with whom you usually drink, places such as bars and friends’ houses where drinking was common, or particular items and times of day or days that relate to drinking.

        too much they can be influenced by different social eventssuch as celebrating a birthday or going to a party where alcohol is much more likely to be found or the condition the individual is in if they are going through a stressful situation. Let’s not forget that drinking alcohol can lead to other associated conditions or disorders that can also be difficult to maintain.

        Also, if the patient is aware of the factors that can lead him to relapse, he can choose to avoid them, that is to say to expose himself to them, for example it will be better not to relate to the group of friends for a while. with which he has always consumed or in case of not being able to avoid it because it can be a festive period, try to be accompanied and have the support of a friend who does not bind with alcohol and thus strengthens non-consumption.

        Likewise, we recommend that you identify yourself and interact with a healthy environment, that is, try to find new places or interact with people who do not drink alcohol, because the environment in which you move will be crucial in maintaining abstinence. It may be helpful to participate in a support or help group where you can interact with other people who are in the same situation by reinforcing each other and avoiding stimuli that are harmful to the process, there are also bars where the sale of alcohol is not permitted. to keep the environment healthy.

          Support from those around you

          As we have already explained, getting the support of those around you, especially those closest to the person who has developed the addiction, will be essential, as these caregivers will act as support and reinforcement in difficult situations and at the same time. -beyond the clinic. the context. We can extend this family and these friends like “The scaffolding” on which the new way of life and all the healthy habits will be based when you have left therapy sessions or the treatment program to be admitted to a health center.

          In this way, it is important that these people maintain a constant flow of communication with the healthcare professionals who have treated or treat the person, so that they have the right guidance and advice for people in need and dependents. at the same time have reliable information about the whip.

          As a helper of the person who overcomes alcoholism, he will find in us a confidant with whom we can express what we feel, what difficulties we have … and without feeling the pressure of prejudices and constant moral appreciations . We will try to motivate her to continue with the process and we will recognize her progress.; every little progress and every day without consuming is crucial.

          Likewise, we will try to be understanding and a good reference. We will take this person’s situation into account and we will try not to adopt a behavior which could precipitate the relapse how to drink in front of him, and we will not force him to do things for which he is not prepared, like attending a party where there will surely be alcohol.

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          So in addition to being a support and an important element of support, because as we have said it is essential that the patient’s environment cooperates, we will also be aware of any changes, behaviors or indications that may make us think that he is at risk. to be able to recommend him then go and seek help as soon as possible from a professional, to avoid consumption or if there has been a fall that does not end up falling.

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