How to Deal With Alcohol Relapse
Sandra T. emailed me this morning and asked how you deal with relapse. She says she was doing great and loving the program and then 4 days in she had one drink and it led to several more.
Actually what Sandra is describing there I would not consider to be ‘relapsing’.
The way my stop drinking program works is by flipping a switch in your head. It is an entirely binary process, it’s not a dial, it is a two-way switch.
You are either a drinker or not, you either want to drink or you don’t. There is no middle ground and there is no drinking in moderation.
If you have been sober for six months to a year or longer and you have a drink I would consider this to be a true relapse.
But the reasons for this are entirely different to why people return to drink in the early stages. We will come back to that type of relapse in a moment.
There are two more types of ‘falling off the wagon’ that apply more to the early stages of sobriety. So let’s dig down into what we really mean by how do you deal with alcohol relapse.
The First Two to Three Weeks
If you drink alcohol within the first couple of weeks of quitting you were simply beaten by the ‘kick’ from the drug.
All addictive substances have a mechanism to apply pressure on you to try and make you ‘use’ again.
Alcohol makes you feel uncomfortable and disguises the sensation as mild anxiety or the same way you feel when you are a little stressed out.
If you respond to the ‘kick’ by drinking it rewards you by removing the discomfort it created in the first place – mission accomplished.
During the first couple of weeks you just have to understand what is going on and tough it out.
During this time your new hobby needs to become ‘understanding the truth about alcohol’. Fill your head with good information constantly. Seriously, you need to get obsessed about what you are doing. Become an alcohol bore!
The First Six Months
If you drink alcohol once you are outside the ‘kick’ then this is simply an indicator that you still believe that there is a benefit to drinking.
If you didn’t believe there were any benefits you just wouldn’t drink.
Most drinkers don’t also use heroin. But why? It feels much better than alcohol so why not use it?
Even people who claim to have an ‘addictive personality’ don’t use heroin! However, not many people believe that adding heroin to their lives would be an enhancement.
Most right thinking individuals would believe the opposite to be true. Heroin would be entirely destructive and harmful to their lives.
Because this is their firmly held belief, they never feel tempted to shoot up!
If you feel tempted to drink it is because you believe doing so would provide a benefit or solve a problem.
Whether that is to help you relax, help you sleep or simply to stop your overactive mind.
The truth is all those beliefs are erroneous. All those supposed benefits are an illusion created by the drug. There is not one single benefit to alcohol – not a single one!
You need to address this slip by going back into learning mode and re-starting the journey. Listen to the hypnosis tracks, read the books, watch the videos.
Become OCD about getting the truth from your conscious mind into your subconscious belief structure.
Six Months Onward
If you have been sober for more than six months then you are into the true area of potential relapse. Normally after one year the former drinker has lost clarity on just how painfully addicted to alcohol they were.
They start to get a little cocky in their thinking. Escaping alcoholism now seems to have been so easy.
For a whole year they have lived an amazing life free of the drug and they didn’t find it difficult.
They start to wonder if they have been ‘cured’ and now they can control alcohol.
When you start thinking like this you should sound the warning sirens and wave red flags all over the place.
This is a very dangerous place to be. Because the next thing you start thinking is ‘perhaps I can just have one drink’.
“Just one drink” are the three most lethal words you will ever say or think. The hard reality is, we spent decades physically altering our brain so that it lights up like a Christmas tree whenever we drink alcohol.
We can never go back to normal drinking – ever!
‘Just one drink’ will lead to a self-destructive relapse that could take months or years to escape from. You will go back and use the same process to stop drinking as you did before.
But now it’s ten times harder because your faith in the system has been damaged by the relapse. Instead of being 100% confident in the program, now you are only 70% confident and this makes you panic that there is really no escape from the drug.
You don’t need to plan for how to deal with alcohol relapse. All relapse is avoidable if you are fully aware of what is coming, and you understand what to expect.
For example, imagine you had a bad car accident one Tuesday afternoon on the highway. A car crossed into the wrong lane and totaled your car.
Now imagine if a magic genie had visited you a week prior to the accident and said ‘Be careful driving on Tuesday – something bad will happen on the highway’. Of course you can still have the accident but with the forewarning you have a much better chance of avoiding it.
That is exactly what this is… your forewarning.