What to Do if You Have an Alcohol Relapse

by | Apr 24, 2017 | Blog, Los Angeles Alcohol Rehab, Los Angeles Drug Rehab

Relapsing on alcohol can feel as though all the progress you’ve made in your recovery has been undone, and can really bring you down. Here’s what to do if you have an alcohol relapse.

Alcohol addiction is scary – and often tragic – but what about alcohol relapse? When you go through treatment, there’s quite a bit of focus placed on adjusting for your reintroduction to society. From there, you may assume that your life will be smooth sailing and it can be extremely difficult when you go back to your normal life and find that there’s temptation everywhere. The potential – and even the urge – to slip back into old habits can be overwhelmingly high. Just getting through treatment can be a trial, but what happens afterward? What happens if the worst happens, and you relapse?

Slip vs. Relapse

While it may not seem major at first, there is a significant difference between a slip and full blown relapse back into alcoholism. If you’re in a situation where you briefly consume alcohol, but you stop before things get out of hand, that’s a slip. This could be at a party where you consumed a drink, but not enough to get drunk. Alternatively, it could be a situation in which you had a drink and then immediately regretted it. Slips can occur in spontaneous situations, but typically slips don’t mean that you’ve lost all motivation to remain sober. However, a slip can develop into a relapse if you’ve fallen out of the right mindset. A relapse is traditionally a solid return to full-fledged alcohol abuse. It’s important to know that anybody in recovery from alcohol can fall into alcohol relapse, regardless of how long that they’ve been sober.

You’re not alone

If you fall into alcohol relapse, it’s important to understand that you are not alone. It’s easy to fall into bad habits and unhealthy mindsets out of guilt and shame when you relapse. You may feel embarrassed or weak. This isn’t something that you’ll just experience yourself. You may find that your loved ones are disappointed, or feel that they’ve lost trust in you if you’ve fallen into alcohol relapse. Thoughts like this are not productive, and they can lead to depressive episodes, or even further your addiction. However, relapse is more common than people realize, and recovery is always an ongoing battle. It doesn’t matter why you relapsed. Maybe you were under the pressure of stress, or maybe you didn’t know how to deal with negative emotions. Maybe you don’t know why it happened. The fact of the matter is that relapse happens, so it’s important to have a plan in place in case it occurs.

Alcohol relapse: what to do

If you’ve fallen into alcohol relapse, you may feel lost or confused. You may not have a complete plan of action. However, it’s important to develop a plan as soon as possible before your addiction worsens again. Don’t try to hide your addiction, and don’t be ashamed of the fact that you’ve relapsed. They say that knowing is half the battle, and that includes admitting your problem to yourself. If you’ve fallen into relapse, we have a quick game plan to help get you back on your feet.


Don’t be afraid to head back into treatment if you’re suffering from alcohol relapse. The whole thing may seem pointless. If you’ve gone into rehab for alcohol in the past, you may be wondering how another round in treatment could be effective. Depending on the level of relapse (whether you’ve fallen back into old habits or you can feel yourself teetering on the edge), you may not need as strong a program as before. Alternatively, if you’ve fallen into deeper, darker habits than before, you may need a stricter treatment. Treatment will force you to be accountable for yourself, and you’ll get the medical help you need. Remember, alcohol addiction – and therefore alcohol relapse – is a mental health issue at its core.


When you’re going through alcohol relapse, it may be difficult to admit to yourself that you’ve slipped up. If you can’t admit it to yourself, how can you be expected to admit it to loved ones? However, it’s important to remember that your loved ones are here to support you. It’s true that they may be disappointed, but channel that into positive energy. Make that your motivation to make a real, lasting change in your life. Those closest to you care about you, and they want to know that you’re making the right choices. Keep them informed of your progress, both your upswings and your downturns.

Make sobriety your priority

Sometimes, you may not take sobriety as seriously as you should. When you get out of treatment the first time, you may think that you’re automatically cured, and that alcohol relapse isn’t enough of a threat to affect you. This is the wrong mindset to take, and it could wind up putting you back into treatment. Take this second chance at recovery as a fresh start, and really reframe your mindset regarding sobriety. Be sure to take it seriously, and you’ll wind up happier and healthier in the long run.

Develop a routine

One of the easiest ways to fall back into any bad habit is by not developing a solid routine. Fill your days with things you love. You may have a part- or full-time job that takes up a lot of your time, but what about your free time? If you aren’t doing anything, you may be more likely to fall into alcohol relapse. Use your free time to reconnect with friends. Develop hobbies that you may not have considered before, and refine the skills that you’re good at. Develop your own confidence and personality and you won’t need to rely on alcohol to fill the empty spaces anymore.


Remember that, just through getting through your first bout of treatment, you’ve already proven that you’re stronger than some may have given you credit for. A relapse is not a testament to your strength or weakness. Remember to give yourself enough credit during this difficult time, and take the time to give yourself the care that you need. Remember that life is a road forward, and every day is the chance to make yourself the best you that you can be.

Tabytha Dyne

Tabytha Dyne

Tabytha Dyne is a professional in both the mental health and drug and alcohol recovery field. She has worked extensively in both the public and private sectors and has given many presentations on the subject of alcohol and substance abuse. She has worked for the past 10 years providing direct service education for individuals impacted by SUD and behavioral health issues.