Thursday, 27 December 2007

Alcoholism Relapse Rates

Alcoholism relapse rates are naturally high as it is a chronic condition. In fact, it is well known that once you have "crossed the wire" you never get back.

"Crossing the Wire" refers to the moment in your life when you go from being a person who likes a drink and chooses to have one, to a person who no longer has a choice as to whether or not he has a drink.

Jane crossed the wire about 25 years ago and she proclaims to me that she is, "a lost cause". For her there is no such thing as relapse rates as she hasn't abstained long enough to allow herself to relapse.

They say relapse rates vary between 50-90%. My gut feel and experience tell me alcoholism relapse rates are towards the top end of that range.

As the alcoholic always remains susceptible to drinking again it takes a constant battle of will and actions, tricks etc. to control the situation.

One of the things that can be done it to try and avoid the situation in which you are prone to feel like a drink. For Jane this is any situation. That's a bit negative but basically true. Perhaps if there is one type of situation that encourages her to drink it is boredom. Her mind will wander and we all know phrases such as " An Idle Mind is the Devil's Workshop".

One thing she can do therefore is to keep active when she might feel the urge to drink. Another is to substitute the pleasure that she is seeking from a drink with another form of pleasure. This could be something as simple as eating your favorite food. These though are rather feeble tricks compared to the pulling power of almighty alcohol.
Circumstances when the urge can more easily resurface are moments of anger and frustration, social pressure and interpersonal temptation. These are alcohol cues, which are accompanied by a reduced confidence in ability to resist.

My thoughts are that Jane must take a more active role in changing her life. She drifts. I have spent a long time convincing her that it would be worthwhile seeing a psychiatrist as her alcoholism is "layered" over an underlying mental illness associated with very low self esteem and depression - a classic cocktail. But, and I hate to say this, she is just plain lazy. And yes, she is very, very untidy (these two go together).

Laziness is also a factor in relapse rates. Perhaps the personal characteristic of laziness is part of the cocktail of characteristics (some others would be self esteem and for example obsessive compulsive disorders) that make a person prone to being an alcoholic. More as always to come...

Photo reproduced under creative commons copyright only alice

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I'd like to hear the experiences of both alcoholics and the victims of alcoholics, please.