Soberlink Blog

Discussing the sober truth of alcohol, recovery, and aftercare monitoring

The Disease of Alcoholism

When an individual receives the initial diagnosis of cancer, they continue seeing their doctor for visits even after treatment has been completed. The chronic disease of alcohol addiction should be treated in a similar fashion. The disease of alcoholism encompasses all the signs and symptoms of alcohol abuse. It also includes a physical dependence on alcohol. Over time the body and the brain adjust to the steady intake of alcohol, so it is not uncommon for those with an addiction to need alcohol to function on a daily basis.

To overcome an addiction, the choice to enter treatment is only the beginning. The real work starts after completing treatment. According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, about 90 percent relapse within four years of completing treatment.[1]

The completion of addiction treatment is a major accomplishment. After treatment adjusting back into mainstream society can be difficult. Aftercare is designed to bridge this transition. Typically aftercare programs include meetings, counseling, mentoring and some sort of sobriety testing. Sobriety can be difficult to sustain when old friends, places or situations that can cause stress. Aftercare provides resources to help individuals implement the copping tactics they learned while in treatment.

Adjusting to Life After Rehab

Graduating from a rehab program is an enormous accomplishment for which you should be very proud. Successfully completing a treatment program shows that you are committed to fighting your addiction. It’s important to remember that the work required to live a sober life doesn’t stop when you leave a rehab facility. Now is your chance to apply the things you learned to your day-to-day life.

You have an opportunity to really change your life. Maintaining positive changes from rehab will take proactive effort and reinforcement. To avoid the trappings of your former addictive habits, and bolster your new healthy lifestyle, have the following supports in place:

A Network of Sober People

Sober contacts can be your most valuable tools during recovery and they can also become lifelong friends. You should be able to call these people if you’re struggling with cravings, or if you just need to talk. Staying sober can seem lonely at first but there is a vibrant recovery community at your fingertips. Pick up the phone and call a sober contact. A good place to start such a network, if you haven’t already created one with others in treatment, is to attend peer support meetings like Al-Anon.

You Are Not Alone in Your Addiction

When you hear the word “alcoholic” what do you think of?

Those who have little experience with substance abuse will likely picture a drunk living on the street or passed out in an alleyway. It’s rare that alcoholics fit this stereotype, but those who do tend to be the most public. The stigma that develops from the image of a drunk in an alleyway is detrimental to people in recovery for two reasons.

First, if they don’t fit that stereotype, it is easier for them to deny their own problem.

Second, they can be fearful of the judgment if they admit they are alcoholics and not seek the help they need. Some alcoholics avoid treatment for years because of denial. Acceptance is the only way to get them into treatment: both acceptance of self and acceptance of others.

Rebuilding Trust During Recovery

People in early recovery often raise some variation of the following issue at group sessions:

“I’ve been sober for 6 months and my mother still doesn’t trust me to be on my own. She thinks that if I spend a single day out of her sight I will pick up a bottle again.”

You cannot force trust; it will take time and patience to restore. Think back and try to understand how your drinking has affected your loved ones. They will need to process everything you have been through together and go through their own healing. While you walk through your recovery, don’t lose sight of these 3 important details to help you rebuild trust:

Accept and Forgive.

Turn your focus inward and start work on bettering yourself. You should be practicing forgiveness with yourself and others, now is the time for healing. While it is true that rebuilding trust in recovery means taking a hard look at your own behavior, you need to realize that you cannot control the actions or reactions of others. You must learn to accept this because letting go of that control is an important step in your recovery.

The same is true about waiting for apologies from those who have wronged you. Forgive them, and move on.

Navigating Friendships After Divorce

Once married couples find other couple friends to brighten up weekends and attend concerts with, it’s tough to let them go. After all, they’ve spent months or years getting to know them, sharing important life stories, meals, and children’s events. It took effort to grow as close. And now . . . what?

Is Chronic Binge Drinking the Same as Alcoholism?

This is kind of a tough one, as the answer is yes and no. To fully explore this topic, we need to have a confirmed definition of what binge drinking is. Luckily, the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism provides us with one.

According to the NIAAA, you are a binge drinker if you are a man who consumes more than four alcoholic drinks in one day or a total of 15 or more in one week or a woman who consumes more than three alcoholic drinks in one day or a total of eight or more in one week. The average binge drinker consumes eight alcoholic beverages per drinking session, regardless of gender. This doesn’t mean they are necessarily pounding back eight beers. It could alternatively be two long island iced teas, for example, since these cocktails contain four shots of hard alcohol apiece.

Over half of American college students admit to binge drinking, but according to the Centers for Disease Control, 70% of binge drinking occurs among adults older than 26. While some people do stop drinking heavily after college, it’s considered socially acceptable to binge drink well into your 20s and even early 30s. The problem is, the older you get, the more problems this type of behavior can cause. That’s when suspicions of alcoholism start to pop up.

Parenting: The Importance of Asking for Help

No matter how much you love being a parent, there may come a day when you feel like you’re overwhelmed by the demands of life, your job, and your family, but you feel like you need to soldier through rather than admit you might need to talk to someone about your anxiety. Or perhaps you’re a new parent and you’re worried that you don’t quite have the hang of this “parenting” thing; best just to struggle through and deal with it as well as you can, right?

Supporting a Loved One in Recovery

It has been proven that individuals in treatment for alcoholism will have a higher success rate with outside support. In fact, it is one of the most important factors in maintaining long-term recovery. That being said, many friends and family members don’t know what to do in order to support the person struggling with addiction. The answer to this one is pretty simple: just ask.

If your loved one is in inpatient treatment, this may be the first time they’ve had to think about who they want to be outside of their addiction. Their counselor and their peers in treatment will help with this. But they may contact you about visiting them in treatment, possibly in a joint counseling session, or as part of a social or family day. You may even be able to take them on day trips as they progress, depending on the length of stay. The extent of your involvement will be up to the person in treatment. You should always wait for an invite; don’t show up unannounced.

You can also send your loved one supportive cards, letters, and packages. Keep in mind facility staff will search all items, and anything containing alcohol (including perfume and hand sanitizer) will be confiscated. And it goes without saying you should not send other banned substances.