Warning:Recovery Essentials Exposed


The million dollar question is what’s it going to take to get my alcoholic into recovery.

Probably the better thing to ask is what’s it going to take for recovery to really work.

Many alcoholics say they want recovery and I believe their intentions are good. What happens is the necessary elements to a genuine recovery are often absent.

The result is relapse…maybe even several times. For this reason you need to know what’s essential to recovery for your alcoholic.

Abstinence Based

There’s a lot of talk today about ‘harm reduction’ in addiction recovery circles.

This idea is about an effort to reduce the amount of alcohol and drug use an alcoholic takes in. This is an effort to reduce the overall harm to the individual.

In 30 years of work with alcoholics and addicts, I can assure you those who decide to just taper off or drink socially don’t generally make it into recovery.

I would agree the harm may be reduced temporarily for those who choose to use ‘just a little’.

The problem is the return to out of control use and eventually it actually becomes worse than before.

I recommend a program that promotes abstinence. These programs tend to understand the necessity of a clean break with alcohol.

Treat Illness

There are still programs that don’t embrace alcoholism as an illness.

Even the American Society of Addiction Medicine has defined alcoholism as a brain disorder.

When you decide on a treatment center they need to treat your alcoholic as a person who has an illness.

Rehab programs used confrontational approaches in the past. These I refer to as in you face methods.
They could be seen as bullying someone into compliance.

If that were the only method of rehab I’d avoid it, too.

Make sure the counselors listen and respond out of their knowledge and understanding of treatment.

Skill development

Alcohol robs your alcoholic of many things. Here are a few:

    • Communication

Increased alcohol use most often precedes a decline in the ability to communicate.

Your alcoholic’s ability to listen is impaired by the alcohol. Even when there’s conversation it’s often forgotten because of the alcohol.

A good program will teach basic communication skills to assure te best opportunity to improve two way conversations.

    • Anger Management

Inhibitions are lowered when your alcoholic drinks.

To manage anger it takes intentional focus on what you choose to think about. When your alcoholic is out of control they rarely have control of where their thoughts go.

If they tend to be frustrated or angry when they are not drinking they will be more out of control when they are drinking.

This is why the treatment program needs to help develop skills with them to handle stress and manage anger.

    • Social Skills

Much of your alcoholics world is surrounded by alcohol and those who use it.

What rehab tries to do is begin the process of how to be social without alcohol.

I remember one alcoholic who told me he didn’t have even one hobby or interest that didn’t include alcohol.

Your alcoholic may need to develop new sober friends. There may be less time spent with family who don’t understand his need to stay sober.

    • Coping Skills

It’s not easy for an alcoholic to cope with day to day issues without alcohol.

Sometimes it’s emotions out of control and other times it’s circumstances that seem to be unmanagable.

Treatment programs help to begin the process to develop a set of skills to look at the world differently.

These skills are key to success in recovery.

Sets up Accountability

Your alcoholic needs an objective person to talk with and share their struggles.

The reason it can’t be you has to do with how close you are to the situation. If your alcoholic wants to talk about how close he cam to using, you might have a hard time with the information.

Let’s just say, an objective person.

Someone to keep recovery goals in front of your alcoholic.

A person who will know when your alcoholic hides from the truth.

Access to Care

It’s well known that relapse is part of the recovery process. It’s important to have a treatment program that understands and accomodates relapse.

Your alcoholic needs to build a relationship with the treatment team. They are realy need to be there for those times when everything falls apart.

Don’t be alarmed. It often takes several relapses on the way to a stable recovery.

When your alcoholic has been clean and sober for five years we say they have achieved remission.

This doesn’t mean they won’t relapse, it’s just much more unlikely.

Relapse Prevention Plan

Professionals know relapse is part of recovery. Even to the extent it needs to be part of what your alcoholic works with while in treatment.

Relapse recovery plans are very personal. They deal with what makes YOUR alcoholic return to drink.

It can be an emotional or visual trigger or a set of circumstances that result in steps toward relapse.

When a relapse prevention plan has been developed your alcoholic is armed with a very personal plan to assist in those moments when the urge to use is strong and they aren’t.

Develop Support System

A key ingredient to success in recovery is the establishment of a recovery support system.

Some alcoholics are turned off by alcoholics anonymous and refuse to attend. I suspect for many it’s more about being faced with the realities of alcoholism consistently that makes them uncomfortable.

There’s no magic in AA. The key is to have people to share with who will be honest and hold your alcoholic accountable for what happens day to day relative to alcohol.

I can assure you if there is no support system the chances of recovery will be almost zero.


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Here’s What 2 Other People Thought...

  1. starla

    My husband says ” I’m not an alcoholic I’m not like the rest of them i never went to treatment..I was a maintenance drinker..I said hey Hey everything I’ve read in alanon suggests I have issues with codependency so why else would i relate so strongly? Don’t go down that road of justifying u can have 2 beer and walk away. It always progresses to more and even having one sip of a beer hes nasty distant and mad. So he is a dry drunk and I’m dealing with him now being a dirt bag. I’m tired of trying its been 10 years an he had 6 months sobriety and we have had such great happiness since starting AA now it feels like we are going back to that.

    • FreeMyAddict Team

      Relapse often happens with alcoholics. If your husband is honest about his situation it should be a short path back to abstinence and recovery. One thing I know for sure, when an alcoholic believes they don’t have to pay attention to sobriety anymore they generally lose it. You have a right to be concerns and upset. Your 10 years of improved (even as a dry drunk) has changed. I hope he finds his way back.

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