The important thing to remember is that relapse doesn’t mean drug treatment failure. Don’t give up. Call your sponsor, talk to your therapist, go to a meeting, or schedule an appointment with your doctor. When you’re sober again and out of danger, look at what triggered the relapse, what went wrong, and what you could have done differently. You can choose to get back on the path to recovery and use the experience to strengthen your commitment.
Work with an intervention specialist. If your loved one is in strong denial about the problem, he or she will probably refuse to get treatment or even to listen to you. A substance abuse counselor or therapist who specializes in intervention can help you plan a formal meeting to confront your loved one with the consequences of their behavior and propose a treatment plan.
Many physicians believe no effective treatment is available for alcoholism; therefore, these physicians do not refer their patients for treatment. However, more than 13 studies representing more than 4000 patients demonstrate that brief interventions make a difference. Most of the patients in these studies drank heavily but did not yet have a problem with alcohol.
An influential cognitive-behavioral approach to addiction recovery and therapy has been Alan Marlatt's (1985) Relapse Prevention approach. Marlatt describes four psycho-social processes relevant to the addiction and relapse processes: self-efficacy, outcome expectancy, attributions of causality, and decision-making processes. Self-efficacy refers to one's ability to deal competently and effectively with high-risk, relapse-provoking situations. Outcome expectancy refer to an individual's expectations about the psychoactive effects of an addictive substance. Attributions of causality refer to an individual's pattern of beliefs that relapse to drug use is a result of internal, or rather external, transient causes (e.g., allowing oneself to make exceptions when faced with what are judged to be unusual circumstances). Finally, decision-making processes are implicated in the relapse process as well. Substance use is the result of multiple decisions whose collective effects result in a consumption of the intoxicant. Furthermore, Marlatt stresses some decisions—referred to as apparently irrelevant decisions—may seem inconsequential to relapse, but may actually have downstream implications that place the user in a high-risk situation.
However, your participation can make a big difference. Based on clinical experience, many health providers believe that support from friends and family members is important in overcoming alcohol problems. But friends and family may feel unsure about how best to provide the support needed. The groups for family and friends listed below under Resources may be a good starting point.
Oral medications. A drug called disulfiram (Antabuse) may help prevent you from drinking, although it won't cure alcohol use disorder or remove the compulsion to drink. If you drink alcohol, the drug produces a physical reaction that may include flushing, nausea, vomiting and headaches. Naltrexone, a drug that blocks the good feelings alcohol causes, may prevent heavy drinking and reduce the urge to drink. Acamprosate may help you combat alcohol cravings once you stop drinking. Unlike disulfiram, naltrexone and acamprosate don't make you feel sick after taking a drink.
Stimulants, such as tobacco, cocaine or prescription amphetamines, stimulate the brain and nervous system, causing increased alertness. Depressants, such as barbiturates and benzodiazepines, slow activity in the brain and nervous system, causing relaxation. Hallucinogens, such as LSD and PCP, drastically disrupt the way the brain and nervous system communicate, causing hallucinations. Rehab: Last Week Tonight with John Oliver (HBO)