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  • Can An Alcoholic Ever Drink Again?

    For people who have recovered from an alcohol use disorder, it may be too risky to try moderate or controlled drinking again. Even one alcoholic drink can be a trigger to start drinking alcohol uncontrollably again.

    Abstinence is often the only option for people in long-term recovery from alcohol abuse. People who go through alcohol addiction treatment learn lifestyle habits and practices in place of drinking, not how to better control their drinking habits.

    Is Moderate Drinking A Myth For Alcoholics?

    Between 20 to 50 percent of recovering alcoholics relapse within a year. The numbers can vary greatly depending on the study conducted, but relapse is common for many people who think they are free from the cycle of alcohol addiction and withdrawal.

    After being sober for a while, a person may think they can pick up drinking in a “healthier” way. However, exposure to alcohol is a risk factor for relapse, even in small amounts.

    For newly sober people, the idea of “moderate drinking” may simply be a trap that leads to dangerous alcohol consumption, unpleasant side effects, and disappointment from family members and loved ones.

    Incompatibility Of Alcohol Abuse &  Moderate Drinking 

    Any amount of alcohol use is a risk factor for relapsing into alcohol abuse. What may start out as a single glass of wine or can of beer can quickly spiral into uncontrolled problem drinking. 

    The very act of drinking can trigger a person’s old drinking habits, which may be enough for a relapse.

    Alcohol Use Disorder & Brain Chemistry

    People with an alcohol use disorder often have altered brain chemistry caused by alcohol. The neurotransmitter dopamine is affected by alcohol abuse, which controls motivation and reward, and this change may stick around even in people who have recovered from an AUD.

    Dopamine’s interactions with alcohol may contribute to why recovering patients cannot go back to moderate or even social drinking. Abstaining from alcohol is likely the only way they can avoid more of these harmful interactions.

    Alternatives To Moderate Drinking

    The CDC recommends that anyone who is recovering from an alcohol use disorder should stay completely alcohol-free. Cravings are common for many people after a long period of sobriety, so treatment programs likely offer alternatives to help people stay sober.

    Better Habits For Improved Mental Health

    People going through a treatment program often learn their alcohol use disorder is a mental health problem. 

    They may undergo psychotherapy, learn better habits, and practice coping mechanisms that focus on long-term sobriety. Taking the mental health angle often means tackling AUD at its root.

    Support Groups 

    People may also join support groups to surround themselves with people who have similar problems. Alcoholics Anonymous is one of the most well-known support groups for this purpose, but many other groups are out there if you’re looking to set up a support network.

    Another Alcohol Treatment Program

    The recovery process for alcohol abuse is often long and difficult. Alcohol treatment programs may involve detox support for managing withdrawal symptoms, taking medications like naltrexone, and transitioning into long-term sobriety.

    After all of these steps, it can be heartbreaking to see a family member or loved one fall back into self-destructive drinking habits. Finding the most effective treatment facility out there can help them avoid a potential relapse.

    To find the best treatment program for alcohol abuse, contact us today.

    Written by Ark Behavioral Health Editorial Team
    ©2022 Ark National Holdings, LLC. | All Rights Reserved.
    This page does not provide medical advice.
    Sources

    Centers for Disease Control and Prevention - Facts about moderate drinking
    National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism - Alcohol Dependence, Withdrawal, and Relapse
    U.S. News - Why Do Alcoholics and Addicts Relapse So Often?

    Medically Reviewed by
    Dr. Manish Mishra, MBBS
    on June 24, 2022
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