Finding New Ways to Cope after Alcohol Addiction

Finding New Ways to Cope after Alcohol AddictionSubstance abuse of any kind is regarded by mental health professionals as a dysfunctional or maladaptive coping strategy. People typically retreat into abuse of a drug such as alcohol in response to emotional pain or psychological issues that they have not addressed in healthier, more productive ways.

Receiving treatment for alcohol addiction can help an alcoholic to overcome the addiction and stop drinking, thereby greatly reducing the serious risks that are associated with the behavior. However, a recovering alcoholic who has learned to rely on alcohol to cope and does not learn new coping skills during recovery may have a very difficult time coping with the normal challenges of everyday life and the special challenges that often face recovering addicts.

Using Alcohol to Cope

Alcohol is a sedative in the same class of drugs as tranquilizers like Valium and Xanax. As a result, alcohol is very effective in numbing emotional pain and producing feelings of relaxation. Alcoholics typically come to rely on this to cope with any and all problems in their lives and very often get to the point where they need alcohol on a continual basis simply to face another day. Combined with this is the fact that quitting alcohol produces miserable withdrawal symptoms that include depression and strong cravings for the drug. For a recovering alcoholic, this can mean that he or she will face new and daunting challenges yet will not be able to fall back on the old dysfunctional method of coping with these challenges by drinking. In this situation, the recovering alcoholic is vulnerable to a range of issues, including serious depression, and is also at greatly increased risk of relapse.

Learning to Cope without Drinking

Detoxing from alcohol and quitting drinking in the first stages of recovery is only the beginning of the recovery process. Many alcoholics find that the greatest challenges come over time when situations arise that create stress and tempt the person to fall back into old habits. Recovering alcoholics who are faced with challenges and stressful situations are often tempted to drink “just this once” to get them through hard times. Unfortunately when this bridge is crossed, it becomes much easier to cross it again in the future. Before he or she knows it, the recovering alcoholic can be off the wagon and drinking regularly again.

This is why addiction recovery experts stress the importance of continuing in support groups for recovering addicts even when it appears that recovery is successful. Many recovering alcoholics who have not touched a drop for years still attend support group meetings faithfully and maintain regular contact with their sponsors. Many recovering alcoholics also attribute their ongoing success in refraining from drinking to this support.

Finding Support for Alcohol Addiction Recovery

In the first stages of recovery, alcohol addiction counseling can help you to learn new and more productive ways of coping without resorting to drinking. However, you should not simply stop therapy once you have stopped drinking as this can put you at great risk of relapse. Ongoing counseling can help you face challenges as they arise and cope with them in healthy ways. Likewise, a support group for recovering alcoholics can be an invaluable resource for helping you cope with whatever challenges arise in the coming years.

If you would like help finding support for continued recovery, call our toll-free, 24 hour helpline.