Just as alcohol addiction is a process that begins with the first drink, treatment for alcohol dependency involves a subsequent process that includes ongoing counseling and support long after treatment for the alcohol dependency.
Addiction doesn’t just disappear when someone stops drinking. It’s a memory stored in the brain that can remain for years following that last drink. This doesn’t mean cravings will be as intense or ever present as they are when you first enter treatment, but that the sensitivity to alcohol remains.
This sensitivity along with environmental triggers mean someone who has made it through treatment for alcohol addiction, will benefit from continued counseling and support for their addiction help them stay in recovery.
How Triggers Can Lead To Relapse
Relapse can occur when drug or alcohol cravings are triggered. Many think taking a sip of that celebratory champagne years after their recovery from alcohol addiction won’t matter, however, the brain’s neural network, rewired for sensitivity to the euphoric effects from the substance, can trigger cravings for alcohol so sudden and severe, they result in relapse.
Knowing how to avoid these triggers and where to turn when cravings are intense is part of an ongoing recovery strategy from alcohol addiction. Continued counseling and support from friends and family is critical for long-term success.
Alcohol Addiction Triggers
Alcohol acts as a central nervous system depressant, increasing neurotransmission of gamma-Aminobutyric acid (GABA), which normally regulates muscle tension and stress responses in the body. Once GABA is stimulated, the resulting state of relaxation triggers the pleasure centers of the brain, flooding the neural network with dopamine and endorphins.
When someone consumes alcohol, especially when they have a genetic predisposition toward alcohol addiction, this resulting dopamine response can leave a person feeling significantly relaxed and euphoric.
This physiological mechanism does not go unnoticed by the brain. It normally equates dopamine release with activities relating to survival like food, sex, and sleep. When triggered by an activity like consuming alcohol, it begins to associate the act of drinking with survival.
While this process is unfolding, the brain is also keying in to some other details surrounding this dopamine response. These details can include the location where you typically engaged in drinking alcohol, the people with whom you drank, or bottles or other containers that held the beverage. If you normally drank with friends, those same friends can unwittingly trigger a craving for alcohol following recovery. Your body now equates something like a social setting with accessibility to the substance it deems necessary for survival.
Internal triggers also exist. Stress or depression and other factors can lead a person to drink excessively as a way to cope with feelings they’re unable to handle. Additionally, someone who has recently undergone treatment for alcohol addiction may suddenly feel overconfident, and decide they can handle the recovery process on their own. Or the contrary may be true, a person who has recovered from addiction may feel overwhelmed by the new realities they face, leaving them wallowing in self pity and low self esteem. Without ongoing counseling, either attitude is common in relapse.
Sometimes people have an unrealistic outlook on what recovery is like. They may think everything will fall into place right away, that people should look at them exactly as they were prior to treatment, or with time, they may forget the strong hold the addiction had over them. Continued counseling will address these issues and help someone move forward with realistic recovery expectations.
Triggers for Alcohol Relapse:
- Social settings and people
- Preexisting mental disorders
- Overconfidence following treatment
- Poor self esteem in recovery
- Unrealistic expectations of recovery
- Forgetting the negative feelings associated with the addiction
Why Continued Counseling For Alcohol Treatment Works
Continued counseling into recovery may also address relevant issues that contributed to the initial drug abuse, including underlying mental disorders like anxiety and depression as well as a history of sexual or physical violence in the home.
Often someone at risk of alcohol dependency comes from a household where they grew up exposed to behaviors relating to addiction. This often results in poor coping strategies for the child affected by addiction in early childhood. Continued counseling can help a person develop healthy coping skills to deal with issues that arise following treatment.
Support can also address any legal or ongoing health issues relating to the period of time when the person was addicted to alcohol. These issues can haunt someone who has recovered from alcohol addiction, demoralizing them further. Someone in counseling can learn how to appropriately deal with these issues, and resolve conflicts without turning to alcohol.
Someone who has established a trusting relationship with their counselor as part of ongoing support for alcohol addiction will be more likely to reveal any potential lapses in recovery. For some, this support person may serve as an interventionist in the prevention of a total relapse.
Why Continued Counseling Works:
- Addresses underlying mental disorders, and history of physical or sexual abuse
- Teaches healthy coping skills
- Helps a person resolve conflicts appropriately
- Integral in intervening in the prevention of relapse
Recovery is a process that requires ongoing support from family and friends, along with continued counseling to address issues as they arise. It is a key component to any successful recovery plan.
Ongoing Support For Your Recovery
AlcoholTreatment.net is a solid resource for anyone seeking ongoing support for alcohol addiction. If you are currently dependent on alcohol or are in recovery, AlcoholTreatment.net can connect you with the resources and recovery options available in your area. Contact us and speak with someone in confidence to get the added support you need to achieve and remain in recovery.