Alcohol Abuse and Dependence
Recovery from alcohol abuse or dependence means finding a way to stay sober while changing your attitudes and behaviors. You will work to restore relationships with your family and friends and people at your job or school. You will need to find meaning and happiness in a healthy lifestyle that doesn't include alcohol.
Recovery is not a cure. It is a lifelong process. It begins in treatment, but it doesn't end when your treatment ends. There are 10 principles of recovery (What is a Reference PDF Opens New Window document?) that can help you reach your goals and learn new things to help yourself. They help you gain self-confidence and respect for yourself. They make clear that you're in charge of your recovery. How far you go is up to you.
An important part of recovery is being sure you have support. You can:
- Reference Develop and use social support and support groups. Support comes in many forms. You can find it in seminars and groups led by professionals, Reference 12-step groups Opens New Window with people who also have drinking problems, and your relationships with family and friends. You can make support groups more helpful by Reference being an active member.
- Connect with family and friends. They can help you stop drinking and stay sober by encouraging positive steps. For them to do this, you have to be honest with them about your problems and help them by trying.
- Take part in recovery group activities. You may have used alcohol to make friends or be with a social group. Your counselor or doctor can help you learn skills to make friends without drinking. For example, your counselor may help you find a social skills training class.
- Find a Reference sponsor, and work with this person. A sponsor is someone who has been in recovery for a long time and helps you stay alcohol-free.
Plan for lapse and relapse
Stopping alcohol use is very hard. It's not unusual to have setbacks, even years later. Very few people succeed the first time they try. Many people who are trying to recover from alcohol addiction will have lapses or relapses along the way.
- A lapse is the first time you use alcohol again after you have quit or brief episodes of alcohol use at later points.
- A relapse is not being able to stay sober over time.
It's smart to Reference plan for a lapse or relapse before it happens. Your doctor, family, and friends can help you do this.
Deal with stress
Some people find that Reference relieving stress helps them during recovery. Although there is little research to show that managing stress helps you stay sober, you may find that it helps you feel better overall.
You can find ways to deal with stress, such as sharing your feelings with others or writing to express your journey through recovery. Do something you enjoy, like a hobby or volunteer work. Learn how to relax your mind and body with breathing exercises or meditation.
You can do many things to reduce stress. To learn more, see the topic Reference Stress Management.
Have a healthy lifestyle
When you abuse or are dependent on alcohol, you often get away from some of the basics of good health. Part of recovery is finding your way back to a healthy lifestyle.
- Reference Exercise and be active. This may give you something to do instead of thinking about alcohol, and it also can help reduce stress. People who are fit usually have less anxiety, depression, and stress than people who aren't active.Reference 3
- Reference Get enough sleep.
- Reference Eat a balanced diet. This helps your body deal with tension and stress. Whole grains, dairy products, fruits, vegetables, and protein are part of a balanced diet.
Talk to your family about your drinking
Alcohol abuse or dependence can harm your relationships with family and friends. You and your family may feel you have turned against each other. You may be angry at your family and friends, and they may be angry at you.
If you can, talk with your family and friends about your drinking problem and Reference recovery Opens New Window. Your family and friends need to know that they did not cause your alcohol problem but that they can help you during recovery.
- Try to be open and honest with loved ones about your drinking. This will help them understand what you're going through and how they can help. Many treatment programs offer Reference counseling for families Opens New Window to help you solve problems at home.
- Talk about what may cause a relapse and discuss your Reference relapse plan.
|By:||Reference Healthwise Staff||Last Revised: Reference January 18, 2012|
|Medical Review:||Reference E. Gregory Thompson, MD - Internal Medicine
Reference Peter Monti, PhD - Alcohol and Addiction