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Learn About Alcohol Relapse

What are the common reasons for alcohol relapse? Why is it so prevalent? Find out more below.


Alarmingly relapse rates for persons who enter recovery from a drug or alcohol addiction are very high.  Studies show that 40-60% of persons with an alcohol use disorder (AUD) relapse within 30 days of leaving an inpatient drug and alcohol treatment center, and up to 85% relapse within the first year after receiving treatment.  Therefore, it is imperative for persons who struggle with an alcohol use disorder or other substance use disorder to understand the high risk for relapse, internalize what their own personal triggers are, and learn mechanisms to cope with their triggers and emotions in an effective manner.  Inspiration Health Addiction Treatment Center (IHAT) has individual and group counseling components as part of our comprehensive Office Based Addiction Treatment (OBAT) program to give our clients an understanding of common risks for addiction relapse so thato our clients are better prepared to maintain their recovery.  

There are many reasons for relapse that IHAT medical and behavioral health professionals have identified, and they are listed below:

1. Withdrawal

Many persons relapse to avoid withdrawal symptoms after stopping their consumption of alcohol.  Depending on the amount of alcohol a person was consuming, the frequency of use, the duration of use, and other contributing factors, withdrawal symptoms can range from mild to severe.  We have listed common withdrawal symptoms a person might endure and how we treat those symptoms to moderate withdrawal symptoms under our medically assisted tab on our website to help our clients avoid relapse.

 2. People

Persons with an alcohol use disorder often surround themselves with likeminded individuals who also enjoy drinking alcohol.  Therefore, if they continue to spend their time around the same people who are consistently consuming alcohol while they are in recovery this can trigger a relapse.  Part of the recovery process from alcohol use disorder is surrounding yourself with friends, family, and colleagues who do respect your sobriety enough to stay sober while they are around you.  Through treatment at IHAT the idea is that you will reach a point where you can be around people consuming alcohol and you will have the staying power to remain sober. 

3. Places

Any place that a person may associate with alcohol consumption should be avoided in most instances at least at the beginning stages of recovery.  You want to go to places that offer social interaction and entertainment that are not associated with alcohol for a fun and relaxing time.  

 4. Things

 Anything that persons associate with drinking is a thing to be mindful of in their recovery.  Things like music, dancing, beer cans or bottles can be a trigger that reminds a person of drinking.  There can be a multitude of things a person may associate with drinking.  The key is to understanding why you might be experiencing cravings and then be prepared to deal with the situation without the use of alcohol.

5. Overconfidence

Often persons believe after they have been sober for some time that they have control of the problem on their own.  A person has such bad memories of their alcohol use and are enjoying their recovery.  Of course, it is always a great feeling when you are confident in your recovery, but keep in mind that anyone suffering from an AUD is subject to relapse.  All it takes is being in the wrong place at the wrong time, or just one bad thought that leads to one bad decision to consume alcohol.  It is always prudent to not become cocky or convince yourself that you are “cured.”  It is paramount that despite how much you think you have control of your disease that you stay away from people, places and things that are not healthy for recovery.  That is why continuing group and individual therapies is a key component of your ultimate success.

6. Boredom 

Boredom is often given as the reason for alcohol relapse by many individuals in early recovery.  Persons in recovery and new to sobriety often find themselves lots of time on their hands.  When a person is bored or isolated, they are left with their own thoughts and emotions, and this can lead to a yearning to not feel this way and often people associate good times and social interaction with alcohol as the solution.  That is why it is important to learn coping skills and spend time engaged in recovery encouraging behaviors like exercise, cooking, spending time with close friends, recovery peers, and family that encourage your sobriety, and going to recovery related therapy and support groups.  It is also a great time to try new activities and pick up new hobbies.


The evidence is clear that longer a person can maintain their sobriety, the better chance they have in succeeding in their long-term recovery.  The longer one is able to maintain their recovery, the better chance they have at sustaining long-term sobriety.  People often mistakenly believe that if they attend an inpatient alcohol treatment program that they are forever “cured”.  The statistics cited at the outset about relapse do not give credence to this expectation.  That is why it is highly recommended that a person seeks outpatient alcohol treatment once they have completed an inpatient program.  Outpatient alcohol treatment can also be the initial step taken towards a person’s recovery for those where inpatient is not necessary or possible.  The outpatient alcohol treatment program at Inspiration Health Addiction Treatment, which combines medically assisted treatment with Naltrexone and Vivitrol, counseling, and care coordination is a great first step in your recovery and also a great resource to continue your recovery following treatment at in inpatient facility.   Let our caring compassionate team be your sobriety partner.