Pain, anger and frustration often surround the struggle with alcoholism. Maybe you’ve tried to overcome your addiction but have relapsed and feel like giving up. Words like relapse prevention techniques, coping mechanisms, detoxification systems and support groups may feel abrasive at this point.

Perhaps you’re realizing for the first time that you might struggle with alcohol and have no idea how to overcome it. Maybe you have a friend who is struggling and you want to help. Whatever the case, moving towards recovery can feel like a complicated process. It is vital to realize each person’s situation is unique and influenced by many factors. 

Maintaining your motivation through the lifelong process that is recovery can be difficult. However, positive change is possible. Practical steps can be taken towards recovery if you can remember, replace and re-engage.

1. Remember

This first point isn’t about remembering your mistakes or dwelling on the pain you feel. It is about remembering two key elements that can help you see the situation more clearly and get out of it more quickly.

Remember where you are.

Being able to see where you are in your recovery journey can help provide clarity as you consider the next step. Asking yourself questions can help you more accurately assess the circumstances.

What do I think about the amount of alcohol I consume? Do you think drinking is a borderline issue for you, or have you seen this undesirably affect your life? When was the last time you remember not consistently drinking?

What have others said about my drinking? It can be difficult to determine how severe your personal struggle with alcohol really is; many people struggle to accurately depict their own situation. Have other people commented on your drinking? What can you learn from their words about how chronic your case may be?

Being able to more accurately identify where you fall on the spectrum of alcohol addiction can help you see what treatment options could be appropriate for your unique needs.

The severity of your addiction should guide your treatment search. Alcohol detox, a partial hospitalization program or inpatient or outpatient treatment may be effective options. Incorporating holistic healing into your treatment through art therapy, recreational therapy, or even yoga may further help you overcome addiction. 

Remember how you function.

One of the most important factors in determining which treatment option will help you most is thinking about how you are: how you function. This is not about how you are feeling today but about how you generally respond. 

The support groups, counselors and types of treatment you undertake can be informed by your personality and how you respond to different kinds of care. For example, if you are a highly social person, getting plugged into an active support group may strengthen and encourage you.

2. Replace

It’s easy to focus on replacing the habit of drinking with another habit. While this is a necessary step, it can be emphasized to the point of neglecting another vital aspect of overcoming alcoholism: the importance of thoughts.

Alcoholism often brings negative thoughts about yourself and others, which can be serious detriments to motivation:

  • Stress about the difficulty of overcoming addiction
  • Pessimism towards past failures
  • Irrational fears
  • Self-condemnation over previous actions
  • Helplessness about possible change

People put forth that a “mental detox” is just as vital as a physical one. Mental health conditions like anxiety and depression often co-occur with alcoholism. In counseling, therapists guide people to find and replace these negative thoughts when they may happen. 

Finding

Finding ways to identify your negative thoughts can be extremely beneficial to making progress.

  • When do they occur most frequently?
  • Do certain people or places trigger them?
  • Do you have a negative thought followed by an intense urge to drink?

Identifying negative thoughts can be difficult, but it helps to have someone other than yourself helping you. For some, this is a family member or support person. For many, counselors and therapists are professionally-trained experts in this type of healing. 

Replacing

Once negative thoughts are found, replacement is necessary. If a negative thought is coupled with an urge to drink, a positive thought can replace it.

If it seems like no progress is being made and all you see is failure, you can replace it by focusing on the positive progress that you have made, no matter how small it may feel. Even a small bit of progress, such as the moment you first acknowledged your addiction problem, can fuel your recovery.

This is just one part of the psychotherapeutic approaches used in addiction treatment, including cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) and dialectic behavioral therapy (DBT).

3. Re-engage

If negative thoughts are coupled with the urge to drink, then positive thoughts should be connected with action. Finding a stress outlet to replace the tendency to drink can greatly aid your recovery. Exercise or various relaxation techniques can help you move towards positive change.

Finding an organization or community group where you can give back to other people is another valuable tool in recovery. Serving others allows your mind to take a break from your own struggle and refocus your thoughts. It can be a volunteer organization or simply helping out family members, friends or peers in recovery. 

No matter how complicated and difficult the process towards full recovery may seem, change is possible. Remembering, replacing, and re-engaging are three tools on your personal road to overcoming the struggle.

Overcoming an addiction to alcohol isn’t easy, but you don’t have to do it alone. The Recovery Village’s addiction specialists develop personalized treatment and therapy to meet our clients’ unique needs. Call us today to discuss your situation and how we can help. 

Related: Getting Support for Alcoholism with Teletherapy

Medical Disclaimer: The Recovery Village® aims to improve the quality of life for people struggling with a substance use or mental health disorder with fact-based content about the nature of behavioral health conditions, treatment options and their related outcomes. We publish material that is researched, cited, edited and reviewed by licensed medical professionals. The information we provide is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. It should not be used in place of the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare provider.