Friday, January 25, 2008

For the Alcoholic: Preventing Relapses

There are certain red flags you have to watch out for to prevent relapse when you're in recovery from alcoholism.

Some people might have drunk dreams before they take a drink. These kinds of dreams are red flags to watch out for, too. A lot of times a recovering alcoholic will have a drunk dream if they haven't been going to enough AA meetings. A drunk dream is one in which the alcoholic dreams he took a drink or almost takes one. The dreams are very realistic and usually the alcoholic wakes up shaken.

Some main red flags to watch out for which could tell you you're heading for a relapse include cutting back on your AA meetings, isolating, obsessing on drinking, looking at alcohol in stores, romanticizing what it used to be like when you drank, harboring resentments, lashing out at others, not returning phone calls, slacking off at work, neglecting your loved ones, driving recklessly, ending friendships, making excuses, procrastinating, lying, cheating, stealing, rationalizing insane behavior, getting involved with someone who drinks socially or alcoholically, not calling your sponsor, avoiding people, overeating, acting out sexually, gambling, overspending, sabotaging yourself, triangulating people, abusing your self or others, self-medicating, abusing prescription drugs, not getting enough sleep or enough to eat, staying out of your regular routine, avoiding responsibilities, not practicing good hygiene, sleeping a lot, storming off, going into rages, getting tickets, bouncing checks on purpose, being defensive, craving drinks, going to bars, and slipping back into old behaviors, among other things.

Here are some ways to prevent relapse, according to Alcoholics Anonymous:

Attend AA meetings regularly, use a sponsor and re-work the steps, read the textbook of AA (Alcoholics Anonymous) and Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions, the companion book to the first one, call people in the fellowship for support, work with another alcoholic on Step 12, write about what you're feeling, avoid complacency, seek counseling if needed, and talk about what you're going through with someone on the phone or in person.

Prayer is also necessary and meditation is helpful, too.

"Self examination, meditation, and prayers are the maintenance steps for our spirit," says Michael, an AA member. "They must be coupled with action which is inspired by these three things."

The 12th step can be anything from cleaning up after a meeting to working with a new alcoholic, sharing experience, strength, and hope.

This is a helpful prayer as found on page 99 of Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions, otherwise known as "The 12 and 12":

The St. Francis of Assisi Prayer

"Lord, make me a channel of thy peace - that where there is hatred, I may bring love - that where there is wrong I may bring the spirit of forgiveness - that where there is discord, I may bring harmony - that where there is error, I may bring truth - that where there is doubt, I may bring faith - that where there is despair, I may bring hope - that where there are shadows, I may bring light - that where there is sadness, I may bring joy. Lord, grant that I may seek rather to comfort than to be comforted - to understand than to be understood - to love, than to be loved. For it is by self-forgetting that one finds. It is by forgiving that one is forgiven. It is by dying that one awakens to Eternal Life."

Page 85 of Alcoholics Anonymous, nicknamed "The Big Book" states that: "It is easy to let up on the spiritual program of action and rest on our laurels" and page 89 says, "Practical experience shows that nothing will so much insure immunity from drinking as intensive work with other alcoholics....Life will take on new meaning."

According to, there is evidence that approximately 90 percent of alcoholics will experience relapse at least once over the four-year period following treatment.

source: Associated Content

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