Remember why you stopped drinking
If your chosen private rehab clinic includes aftercare among its range of modules, your chances of avoiding relapse (hitting the bottle again) post-treatment are greatly increased.
Aftercare that utilises a powerful binary system
Alcohol-related health problems can range from minor headaches to life-threatening illnesses, such as cardiovascular disease and cancer, which is all the more reason to achieve recovery and stay sober. But, how do you maintain your sobriety? How do you avoid relapse? The answer is to use a kind of binary system:
- Recognise the benefits of alcohol no longer being such a huge part of your life (feeling and looking better, having the energy to pursue exciting new interests that you could never have even contemplated doing before, having more money, feeling much more on top of your workload, progressing in your career etc.)
- Be aware of your triggers - recognise situations and circumstances where your resolve to only drink in moderation always weakens and is threatened, and take steps to avoid them
Avoid the ‘nostalgia factor’
One particular trigger that so many alcoholics in recovery struggle to cope with is what some call the ‘nostalgia factor’.
In any given year, the vast majority of people who opt for a stay as a residential patient at a private rehab treatment clinic manage to quit drinking altogether, after benefiting from expert help provided by professional counsellors, therapists and clinicians. Some return home, enjoy a life of sobriety, and never look back. But that’s not the case for everyone.
“I beat the booze after time spent in rehab” explains Lucinda. “But to say that I wasn’t tempted to partake in the odd glass of wine, or a flute of champagne or two at a function, would be a lie. I kept my resolve by taking one day at a time, benefiting from the comprehensive aftercare that the clinic provided, and also by not falling for what the counsellors and therapists termed as the ‘nostalgia factor’ or ‘the great drinking myth’.”
Lucinda* is referring to the number one lie that so many former alcoholics tell themselves, post-rehab: that their pre-rehab drinking days were ‘the good old days’, or ‘the best of times’, when life was an endless stream of alcohol-fuelled fun parties, booze-influenced wild nights out with friends, and cosy evenings at home curled up on the sofa and enjoying a bottle of wine (or three) in front of the fire.
Was it really like that? And was it really like that all the time? There weren’t any horrendous nights where alcohol-influenced behaviour led to all sorts of trouble?
Memory lane? Don’t go there!
In these situations, your brain may be using positive enforcement to fool you into only remembering the occasional good times, while the not so good times are conveniently given no mental enforcement at all. These can include:
- The weight gain
- The mental health problems and gradual development of physical illnesses
- Slipping deeper and deeper into debt
- Getting into trouble with the authorities through perpetrating (or being somehow involved in) alcohol-fuelled crime
- Friends avoiding you
- Losing your job
- Watching your family break up
Can you really look back and glorify alcohol, and find it tempting again, when you consider all that?
Pivotal to maintaining sobriety after choosing an alcohol-free life, is to remember not why you drank, but why you stopped.
*All names have been changed