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Health Centre

Avoiding Relapse

Recovery starts with staying away from alcohol. Abstinence is the starting point. It should be followed by improvements in the quality of life. Otherwise relapse is certain.

See if you can take charge of every aspect of your life. Here are a few tips:

Physical

  • Take care of your health.
  • Adopt good eating habits. Eat a high protein diet.
  • Do relaxation exercises.
  • Get regular sleep.

Behavioural

  • Get to work on time.
  • Take up responsibilities and get to managing them.
  • Have a structured working day.

Social

  • Spend time with family and friends.
  • Accept social roles.

Psychological

  • Build your self-esteem. You do not need a prop like alcohol to face the world.
  • Give importance to values like honesty and affection.

Spiritual

  • Deep down you must have positive thought about life and society.
  • Try meditation. Or prayer. Each has helped many.


Staying away from the first drink

This is the toughest part. It may be just a peg. But it leads to the second and soon the old, excessive drinking pattern starts again. Here are some ways of getting rid of the temptation:

  • Have a 24-hour plan. Don’t make sweeping statements about not drinking forever. In your drinking days, you may have sworn on your mother or child that you will never drink again and would have not been able to keep your promise. So watch yourself each day. Just tell yourself that you will not drink today.
  • Take Disulfiram. If your doctor has prescribed disulfiram, take it. Sometimes abstinence cannot be achieved with will power alone.
  • Postpone the drink. The craving for alcohol will return suddenly. Tell yourself that you cannot reach for the bottle now. Maybe tomorrow. If you have abstained today, and realised that you can do this, it will give you the confidence to do it tomorrow also.
  • Remember the last drunk episode. Recall the last time you got home or to work in a sozzled state and all the embarrassment that followed, when you have the craving for a drink.
  • Maintain regular eating habits. Being on an empty stomach leads to the craving for alcohol. So eat healthy food regularly.
  • Avoid all mood-changing drugs. Sleep problems are common during the early period of abstinence. Self-prescribed sleeping pills or any mood altering drugs do more harm than good. They are a threat to sobriety. Worse, they may lead to another kind of addiction. Slowly, you will regain good sleep.
  • Change old routines. You have to make a conscious effort to avoid linking pleasure with the thoughts of your old drinking hangouts and drinking cronies. Don’t pass by these places. Avoid parties where liquor is served.
  • Stay with people. Alcoholism is often referred to as a lonely disease. When you seclude yourself, you may feel the need to drink again. Spend time with family members or non-drinking friends and relatives. Share your problems with a counsellor.
  • Be Active. Use the time spent on drinking on other interests. Pursue your hobby (like music or reading). Spend more time with your family or non-drinking friends. Adopt an exercise regimen. You have to find a way to spend your time actively and harmlessly.
  • Attend AA Meetings. Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) is an organisation of people who help alcoholics recover. Many members have been through the experience themselves. Rather than moralising, they will help you individually to cope with your situation.
  • Learn to say ‘No’. This is the critical part. You cannot run away from people who drink or places where drinks are served forever. There will always be some source of temptation. You should learn to say ‘No’.
    • Speak in a clear firm voice when you say, “No, thank you.”
    • Make direct eye contact with the person who is offering you a drink.
    • Don’t feel guilty or apologetic. It is your life and you are taking charge of it. You do not owe an explanation to anyone for not drinking.
    • Offer to drink coffee or tea or a soft drink.
    • If a person keeps offering you a drink repeatedly with words like” Come on yaar, just one drink won’t do any harm. For old times’ sake…” It may be that this person is just trying to test the strength of your resolve. Do not give in and make him feel secretly triumphant. Just be cool and say you’d prefer a soft drink, anyway.

Abstinence requires enormous effort. But believe us, you will feel much better for it.

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