While it is the start of a positive change in a person’s life, alcohol detox is not the end-all and be-all to a permanent shift away from dependency on the drink. There are an infinite number of instances and circumstances that could very well tip the person over and into the bottle once more, which is why there is a serious need to ask the question: what happens after alcohol detox?

There are several things that people need to understand and look into once out of alcohol detox, and these things might not be easy, but they are far better in comparison to what could happen if a person dives right back into a potentially life-threatening habit. Here are some things that a person could do to stay on the road to sobriety.

Look into Treatment Programs

High dependence on a substance is not something that goes away easily. In most cases, it would require constant attention, monitoring, and care, much like the kind that is present in professional treatment programs. There are specific methods and practices employed in treatment programs that can identify the most effective ways to get a person to kick an unhealthy habit.

This is vital because people often react differently to different methods, and there is simply no magic bullet to end a person’s craving or need for a substance.

Treatment could vary from staying in rehabilitation centers, talking to professionals to help ease the rejection of the substance, and even plotting out a lifestyle that does not allow for situations that could compromise a person’s drive to stay away from alcohol. Therapy plays a large part in this treatment, and it could come in the form of individual, group, or even family therapy, as the family always plays a large role in a person’s drive to get better.

Behavioral Therapy

More often than not, how a person reacts to a situation is governed by how they think or behave towards it. Whether it is because of a celebration or as a coping mechanism for some sort of great stress, alcohol has often been the poison of choice for many people.

The problem often comes when there are simply too many instances for celebration, or if one leads a highly stressful life that requires an escape, which comes in the form of a bottle. This is why more people need to ask what happens after alcohol detox. After all, life continues even after detox, and the situations that bring a person closer to the bottle happen much too often in life.

Part of behavior therapy is looking into how a person thinks and behaves toward certain things in life, particularly the ones that often lead to drinking. By isolating and understanding these things, and how they drive a person to drink, they could be better identified and addressed, so that the reaction to these is not the bottle, but some other less destructive response.

This is not something rooted in mysticism or some other esoteric practice, as it derives from the very real study of human behavior, using real personal experiences to map out why a person reacts to ways in the way that they do. In doing so, the instances where the need to drink is seen as they come, and as they can now be seen, they could also be avoided.

Studying a person’s behavior goes a long way as well because it also allows the person to see the signs leading up to the urge to drink, and build their defense against it, empowering them in the process, and further removing the helplessness brought on by dependency.

Build and Hold Onto a Sober Mentality

The first thing one needs to do is to seriously want to be better. This comes with understanding just how bad the situation was while they were drinking. This necessarily includes considering the things they said and did while under the influence, who is impacted, and how it ultimately turned out after they did so. While it feels like opening old wounds, it is instrumental to understand what the consequences of giving in to the desire to drink were, so that the desire and mentality not to do so again would take hold.

This is perhaps the most important step, as it could dictate how the effort all turns out later on. The greater the understanding and appreciation of how bad things were, and how much worse they could get, the greater the drive could be to take all the other steps that lead to sobriety.

Look into Peer Support

In many cases, even the best efforts to help people with dependency on alcohol could be misconstrued as simply being judgemental. This is because people with dependency issues often believe those who do not have the same problem could not understand what they are going through. This perception further clouds the mind of the one needing help, making them even more impossible to talk to, much less entice into seeking help for their problem.

This is why peer support is also an essential avenue after alcohol detox, as it gives the person the opportunity to talk to others who are going through the same thing. While those in a specific group might have different levels of success in their efforts to stay sober, they all have a story to tell about how difficult not being sober is, and what things they have tried might also help others in the same situation.

The likelihood of acceptance is greater in this scenario because the people participating in it are less defensive than when they are talking to people who do not have the same issues as they do. The sharing sessions also serve to help them vent their frustrations in a non-violent manner, and this is a needed component because not being able to engage in drinking is bound to affect their patience, outlook, and social behavior.

In many cases, anger and irritation are the two most common prevalent emotions felt by people going through a difficult patch of withdrawal. Being able to talk about what they are going through and how they feel about the entire thing helps ease the transition between a state where the need to drink is overpowering and where it eventually becomes manageable to a certain extent.

Develop a Lifestyle Free of the Need for Alcohol

What happens after detox is the life stage where a person decides they will not be a slave to a former whim that blew up into full-blown addiction. A person’s dedication and determination to stick to this decision will set the tone for the rest of the journey toward being free of alcohol dependency for the rest of their life. Life is all about experiences and, for the most part, unexpected instances that elicit a response. This response is where a person’s decision to stay away from alcohol is most likely to be seen.

Depending on who they surround themselves with, the effort to stay away from the bottle could be anywhere from requiring some effort to wanting to chain themselves inside a locked room. Some people know full well that someone is trying immensely hard to stay away from alcohol and yet will do nothing to help them. In some cases, these people might even make it even more difficult to stay true to the path.

A long hard look at one’s lifestyle is also needed after detox, because this lifestyle might also include being with people who would only serve to push the person back to bad habits, negating all of the previously hard work done to get sober.

Look for Understanding, Not Isolation

This, however, does not mean that a person needs to become a hermit, or a complete isolationist to avoid falling back into the drink. Some would argue having people who drive a person to drink is just the kind of people who would help them stay away from it, although this is quite a risky notion in itself. In most cases, all that is needed is a good sense of prudence and an awareness of one’s vulnerability.

If a certain event is sure to have drinks, and also lots of people who love to drink in it, then maybe it would be a good idea not to go, or at least bring alone someone to keep one in check.

Conversely, this also applies to scenarios not related to celebrations. A stressful lifestyle is also a strong driver to drink, and choosing an alternative to it could very well be the only thing that prevents a person from being sober. Avoidance is still the best solution in many situations. Avoid stressful situations whenever possible, or at the very least, build a stress response that does not include alcohol consumption. Sports, art, and other creative endeavors have often done wonders for many trying to not be consumed by stress, and it all boils down to effectively integrating it into one’s lifestyle.

Continue Your Recovery at Discovery Institute

Ridding oneself of dependency and staying true to the course is never easy. For many, it is simply so easy to give up and go back to bad habits, which is why it is always a great idea to seek help from professionals.

We here at the Discovery Institute understand how difficult it is, and how best to help others on to a better life free of dependency. Talking is always the first step. Talk to us, and we guarantee, we will listen. We have listened to so many others, and we have helped them through it. Let us help you too.

Reviewed for Medical & Clinical Accuracy by Dr. Jeffrey Berman, MD

Dr. Jeffrey Berman is a psychiatrist in Teaneck, New Jersey and is affiliated with Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital. He received his medical degree from State University of New York Upstate Medical University and has been in practice for more than 20 years. He also speaks multiple languages, including French and Hebrew.