It can be important to distinguish between a full-blown relapse and a slip-up. With a relapse, you fully go back into old patterns of out-of-control drinking, which can require going back into treatment and other steps to get back to sobriety. Understanding triggers for alcohol use is important for someone in recovery and their loved ones. If someone knows their triggers, they can better avoid them and reduce their risk of a relapse. Instead of drinking alcohol, plan out the non-alcoholic beverages you can order or make instead. Enjoyable, non-alcoholic alternatives include soda and fresh lime juice, virgin mojitos, soda with fresh fruit, kombucha, or mocktails.

Remember that after a physical relapse, recovery is not hopeless. You might just need additional coping skills for long-term sobriety. You can learn from your mistakes and get back on the right path. Still, “most of what we know about alcoholism and addiction is from the people who show up and identify themselves that way in Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) and in treatment programs. The vast majority of people who [‘outgrow’ it] are hidden from view,” Dr. Peele says. Whatever the reason, there are serious consequences when someone with AUD drinks.

Substance Abuse Treatment

Human beings have that “power” — that capacity for growth. The idea is devastating, but it is not uncommon for an alcoholic in recovery to slip up and drink again. This situation is serious not only because it jeopardizes sobriety but also because being exposed to alcohol after a period of abstinence can have significant effects on the human system. Drinking is also about giving myself a reward, something besides water that symbolizes it’s time to relax and treat myself. One day, my boyfriend and I went to a bar to watch the sunset. It was too sweet, but it still felt rewarding to have something unhealthy and frivolous in front of me.

going back to drinking after being sober

Everyone’s path along recovery is different, and what works for some may not work for others. Keep a record of your drinking to help you reach your goal. For 3 to 4 weeks, write down every time you have a drink and how much you drink.

Reclaim Your Life

Can you honestly control and enjoy your drinking at the same time? If you can honestly answer “Yes,” you are likely not an alcoholic. If one finds they cannot control and enjoy their drinking at the same time, they are likely an alcoholic and they should remain abstinent and 100% alcohol free. It would be best to look into detox at an inpatient treatment center for additional support and medical help. Medical staff and other support people can help you deal with the physical and mental withdrawal symptoms.

going back to drinking after being sober

For James, who is in his mid-50s, what finally convinced him to ditch the booze was waking up hungover after a workplace Christmas party. He had been a social drinker, and also drank at home three or four nights a week. “It was beginning to affect my health – just getting out of bed was harder,” he says. SELF does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Any information published on this website or by this brand is not intended as a substitute for medical advice, and you should not take any action before consulting with a healthcare professional.

Is Moderating Drinking Possible for Alcoholics?

You and your family members can work on relapse prevention during your treatment by focusing on your discharge planning while you are in a treatment center. Overcoming substance and alcohol use disorder is difficult. You might have been sober after treatment for three months before a relapse. Or maybe you have been sober for years before relapsing.

going back to drinking after being sober

So it’s worth chatting to your doctor if you need a little help getting started. If you are dependent on alcohol, the smell and taste of zero-alcohol drinks can act as a trigger for drinking alcohol. They might make it more difficult to make permanent changes to your drinking.