Alcohol Relapse and When Helping the Alcoholic Becomes Detrimental

It is fascinating to articulate something that family members who have been harmfully affected by the alcoholism of another family member apparently do not realize. It seems that by shielding the alcohol dependent individual with lies and deceit to those outside the family, these well-intentioned family members have in reality created a condition that makes it easier for the alcohol dependent individual to continue and advance with his or her negative, detrimental existence.

Undeniably, rather than helping the alcohol addicted individual and themselves, these family members have in truth become enablers who have inadvertently helped worsen the alcoholic’s drinking problem even further.

Relapses Can and Do Happen

Another key alcohol dependency issue concerns alcohol relapses. Relapses take place when an alcoholic has effectively gone through alcohol addiction rehabilitation and then resorts to drinking a number of weeks or months later. At first thought, this situation seems contradictory to common sense and looks so improbable that it forces a person to question why anyone who has gone through the misery of alcoholism can return to drinking a short while after successful alcohol treatment and in turn after reaching recovery. There are, of course, more than a few reasonable reasons for this.

It should be mentioned, nonetheless that alcoholism research that has centered on the long standing effects of alcoholism has shown that long after the alcohol addicted individual has quit his or her drinking, significant transformations in the way in which the alcohol dependent individual’s brain operates are still present. As a consequence, all a recovering alcohol addicted person has to do to involve himself or herself in actions that correspond with the modifications that have come about in the brain is to engage in drinking again.

The Need for A Drastic Lifestyle Modification

There are other reasons why numerous recovering alcohol addicted individuals return to drinking a few weeks or a few months after achieving sobriety. In accordance to the alcoholism research literature, to make a successful recovery, the alcohol dependent individual needs new ways of responding and thinking in order to deal more effectively with tough alcohol-related circumstances that will take place.

Conditions such as returning to the same alcohol addictive atmosphere or to the same geographic location; interacting once again with friends from the days when the alcohol addicted individual was drinking in a hazardous manner; or familiar songs, smells, or activities—all of these conditions can elicit memories that can set off psychological anxiety or push hot buttons that influence the recovering alcohol addicted person to engage in irresponsible drinking once again. Unfortunately, all of these situations may not only contradict ongoing alcohol recovery for the alcohol dependent individual but they can also result in relapse and consequently negate one’s sobriety.


In an attempt to “protect” the family alcohol dependent individual, family members can actually cause inadvertent destruction by enabling the negative drinking behavior of the alcohol dependent individual.

The drug abuse research literature validates the fact that most individuals who effectively complete alcohol treatment go through at least one relapse. Alcohol addicted individuals and their family members need to know this so that they do not get down in the dumps or stressed out when a relapse takes place.

Happily, participation in support groups such as Alcoholics Anonymous and follow-up rehab and education have resulted in more successful, lasting alcohol abuse and alcoholism treatment results, have helped diminish alcohol relapses, and have helped recovering alcohol addicted persons attain enduring sobriety.