Alcohol Relapse Prevention | AspenRidge Recovery

Alcohol use disorder is a disease that impacts millions of Americans each year. As one of the most addictive substances, it’s one of the nation’s leading causes of death. There’s a reported 88,000 people dying every year from alcohol-related causes. Alcohol has a profound effect on the entire body, especially the brain and heart. If you’ve recently recovered from alcohol dependency, alcohol relapse prevention is key for long-term sobriety.

AspenRidge Recovery offers compassionate care for individuals and families who are suffering with alcohol use disorder. Our alcohol addiction treatment programs are tailored to the individual. For more information on our existing treatment options, contact us directly at 719-259-1107 .

Alcohol Relapse Prevention

Alcohol Relapse Statistics

Statistics indicate that the longer a person with alcohol use disorder stays sober, the better their chances at long-term sobriety. But how do individuals and families approach alcohol relapse prevention?

In spite of its negative effects, more Americans than ever consume alcohol on a regular basis. Economists as well as healthcare and addiction specialists agree the pandemic and subsequent quarantines also had a significant impact on nationwide alcohol consumption.

In April 2020 alone, year over year alcohol sales rose 234%. What’s more, of those who attempt to stop drinking, over 30% relapse in their first year of sobriety.

Alcohol use disorder, sometimes referred to as alcoholism, means that you have a chronic health condition, much like diabetes or heart disease. Alcohol recovery, therefore, is the stage of addiction care where alcohol use disorder is effectively managed. To overcome alcohol abuse or addiction it usually requires professional treatment.

What Are Alcohol Use Disorder Relapse Percentages?

Alcohol relapse rates vary widely in clinical studies, but some studies show that people who receive treatment have a short-term remission rate between 20% and 50%. Somewhat discouragingly, other studies indicate that between 20% and 80% of people who receive treatment and experience short-term remission are estimated to relapse in the long-term.

Relapse happens, in part, because of the chronic nature of the disease of addiction. According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, evidence shows that roughly 90% of people with alcoholism relapse within four years after completing treatment.

What Is The Cause of Alcohol Relapse?

Alcoholism is a chronic relapsing disease. Craving or obsessive thoughts about drinking alcohol can weigh heavily especially in the early days of recovery. They can be heightened with negative feelings or emotions like stress or feelings of despair, and mental health issues such as anxiety or depression. Staying sober can also be overwhelming, balancing life obligations, and more. Turning to alcohol can trigger a familiar coping mechanism leading to relapse.

People who relapse often experience signs or symptoms days, weeks, and even months leading up to relapse. However, without a relapse prevention plan, it can be difficult to assess how to manage triggers and other factors that can lead back to substance abuse. The greater the number of risk factors, the higher your risk for relapse.

Some of the most common risk factors for alcohol relapse include:

Exposure to triggers

Addiction relapse triggers can involve social and environmental cues that remind you of drugs and alcohol. Social cues—such as seeing a drug dealer or friend who uses drugs—and environmental cues—like coming in contact with objects, smells, or places that you associate with drugs and alcohol—can produce intense cravings that may lead to a relapse.

Establishing a relapse prevention plan can help with managing negative emotions, prevent triggers, and help a person navigate the ups and downs that usually comes with early recovery.


If you have high levels of stress and poor coping skills, you may turn to drugs and alcohol for relief. Negative emotions, such as anger, anxiety, depression, and boredom, sometimes increase your risk for relapse. Work and marital stress, in particular, have been known to contribute to relapse.

Learning to deal with stress without alcohol doesn’t come easily. Managing stress through healthy outlets can help tremendously.

Interpersonal problems

Conflict with family and friends can lead to negative feelings, including anger, sadness, and frustration. If these emotions are not properly managed, they can lead to a relapse. In fact, conflict with others has been found to be involved in more than 50% of all relapses

Peer pressure

Family or friends who use drugs and alcohol may put pressure on you to use too. Other times, simply being around other people who are using drugs or drinking can stir up strong urges and make you more prone to a relapse. As a result, this makes having family members or friends who use drugs a strong predictor of relapse.

Preventing Alcohol Relapse

Lack Of Social Support

Having a limited or negative support system (similar to the one described above) can make it more difficult to cope effectively without using drugs or alcohol.


Due to injuries, accidents, or medical issues. Doctors often prescribe narcotics to pain patients, or people may seek out these types of drugs illegally to alleviate acute or chronic pain on their own. While taking pain medications under the careful supervision of a medical professional can be safe, people with a history of addiction problems may have a difficult time controlling their use of them, particularly since most are opioids, which carry a high addiction potential.

Low self-efficacy

Self-efficacy is confidence in your ability to succeed in a certain area. Studies have shown that people with low self-efficacy in their abilities to stay sober have a higher risk of relapsing, while those with a sense of mastery over their sobriety are more likely to cope effectively.

Positive moods

You might be surprised to learn that positive emotions—not just negative ones—are also risk factors for relapse. This is true because when you are happy, you may want to enhance those feelings by using drugs and alcohol. Also, celebrations, such as anniversaries and birthdays, can also lead to relapse since these events are often associated with alcohol.

Alcohol Relapse Prevention

Learning alcohol relapse prevention techniques is an important part of the journey in recovery. However, it can feel overwhelmingly difficult to understand how best to prevent relapse. Feelings of overwhelm can actually further exacerbate triggers. Instead, it’s important to consider the basic premise for alcohol relapse prevention.

There are a few rules, according to the National Institute of Health, that can help you manage triggers that might possibly lead back to alcohol abuse. Some of those include:

  • Changing habits and lifestyle
  • Being honest in recovery
  • Asking for help
  • Practicing Self-Care
  • Being mindful of setbacks

Alcohol Prevention Strategies

Changing Habits and Lifestyle

A major misconception is that recovery happens simply by abstaining from alcohol. However, when considering long-term recovery it’s important to understand that there are outside influences that can alter mindsets and lead back to continued alcohol abuse. Recovery involves creating a new life in which it becomes easier not to drink.

Honesty in Recovery

Honesty in recovery can help you stay focused on goals and be realistic about difficult obstacles. Being honest throughout the recovery process will help to heal the individual and their loved ones, and can help to repair the relationships that the disease of addiction negatively impacts. Additionally, when receiving treatment, it’s important that an individual remain open to different approaches and relay struggles so that recovery specialists, therapists, and other addiction professionals can help reset relapse prevention plans.

Asking For Help

Most people start recovery by trying to handle everything independently. At times, they may feel they need to prove that they have control of their addiction and they are not in need of outside help. However, joining self-help groups has been shown to significantly increase the chances of long-term recovery. The more people you involve in your support system, the greater the chance of success in abstaining from alcohol.

Practicing Self-Care

People turn to excessive drinking or abusive drinking for numerous reasons. Some may use it as a way to escape, relax, or reward themselves. Adopting self-care practices can help ensure that you’re ready for unexpected highs and lows. Recovery is not a linear journey and it’s important to take care of what helps you stay strong both mentally and physically.

AspenRidge Recovery: Helping To Prevent Alcohol Relapse

If you are concerned about a loved one’s drinking, or you suffer from alcohol use disorder yourself, you are not alone. AspenRidge has a range of alcohol addiction treatment programs to help you on the road to recovery. To find an alcohol addiction treatment program that works for you, give AspenRidge Recovery a call at 719-259-1107