How Can Someone With Bipolar Disorder Move Forward From an Alcohol Relapse?

Living with untreated alcohol use disorder (AUD) can be difficult. It can be especially difficult when a person consumes alcoholic beverages to deal with the troubling symptoms of bipolar disorder. When a person drinks alcohol to deal with bipolar symptoms like mood swings and impulsivity, intoxication can feel like a warm and calming hug. It follows that when someone with bipolar disorder lacks mental health support, alcohol relapse is common.

Fortunately, finding treatments for bipolar disorder can help individuals manage their symptoms appropriately without alcohol use. The relapse prevention program at 12 South Recovery can help individuals prevent or recover from an alcohol relapse. Caring staff members provide support and expertise to help people achieve long-term sobriety.

Bipolar Symptoms That Commonly Lead to an Alcohol Relapse

As stated by the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), bipolar disorder is a mental health condition that can be defined by extreme shifts in one’s ability to concentrate, activity levels, energy, and overall mood. These symptoms can make it difficult to complete daily tasks. An individual’s workplace, academic success, and relationships may be negatively affected.

Depending on the type of bipolar disorder an individual is diagnosed with, symptoms may vary. Bipolar symptoms can negatively impact an individual’s lifestyle and often lead to excessive drinking. These symptoms may include:

  • Feeling more active than usual
  • Having a flight of ideas
  • Experiencing racing thoughts
  • Having trouble making important decisions
  • Developing an excessive appetite for pleasurable activities such as eating or having sex
  • Feeling powerful over others
  • Having suicidal thoughts
  • Experiencing trouble falling and staying asleep
  • Feeling restless

Stages of an Alcohol Relapse

According to the Yale Journal of Biology and Medicine, an alcohol relapse is a progressive process. An individual may experience a few telltale signs before having an official relapse. Unfortunately, many individuals are unaware of the stages of relapse that precede the physical event.

Taking time to understand each stage can help an individual recognize the lead-up to an unfortunate alcohol relapse. This knowledge can help an individual appropriately respond to intense cravings and triggers and achieve long-term abstinence from alcohol. Stages of relapse include:

  • Emotional relapse: An individual may not be thinking about when they are going to use again but rather daydream about their last relapse. Although they think about the last time they drank alcohol, they still have zero intention of drinking in the future. Denial is a major part of the first stage of relapse.
  • Mental relapse: Poor self-care and extended emotional relapse can transition into this stage. As tension increases, an individual may think more about consuming alcohol. Part of the individual wants to drink and part of them does not want to.
  • Physical relapse: This stage is where an individual starts to physically drink again. Once an individual starts to drink alcohol, they begin to drink excessively, leading to a relapse.

Self-Help Strategies to Move Forward From an Alcohol Relapse

It can be difficult to move on from an alcohol relapse. Once a relapse occurs, an individual may feel a whirlwind of negative emotions, which can often lead to further alcohol use. Negative feelings related to a relapse can consume a person’s mind, leading to excessive alcohol consumption and reentering the addiction cycle.

It can be incredibly difficult to move forward from an alcohol relapse, but certain strategies may help a person gradually recover and start over. Helpful strategies that may provide ongoing benefits include:

  • Participating in a healthy self-care routine
  • Communicating with a specialist
  • Attending support groups with like-minded individuals
  • Participating in sober activities
  • Assessing what triggered the relapse
  • Recognizing the progress that has been made
  • Reaching out for further support

The Importance of Forgiving Oneself

One reason an individual may lapse is due to their difficulty managing the intense symptoms related to their condition. This is true for many people with bipolar disorder. Unfortunately, drinking can worsen mental health conditions like bipolar disorder. However, it doesn’t help to beat oneself up for having a relapse. Reaching for a substance was an attempt to feel better, which is understandable. It is important to learn to forgive oneself for a relapse.

Self-forgiveness is one of many self-help strategies that can help an individual move forward from an alcohol relapse. However, sometimes practicing self-care is not enough. Sometimes people need to enlist the help of a professional addiction treatment facility to progress toward lasting sobriety

Moving Foward From Relapse With 12 South Recovery

12 South Recovery offers an effective relapse prevention program. This program includes a type of cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) that can help treat alcohol addiction. Participating in CBT can also help a person manage their challenges related to their co-occurring mental health condition such as bipolar disorder. A therapist can help the individual recognize high-risk situations that may put them at an increased risk of an alcohol relapse.

There are many benefits a person can gain from joining a relapse program. After receiving this kind of help, a person may feel a better sense of self-control and more confidence in their ability to maintain long-term sobriety.

It can be challenging moving forward from an alcohol relapse, especially when a person has bipolar disorder. Accepting addiction and mental health treatment with 12 South Recovery can greatly improve an individual’s chances of long-term sobriety. As a leader in Orange County mental health treatment, we specialize in dual diagnoses. Our facility offers an alcohol rehab program that is customized to each client’s unique needs and history. We understand that each person suffering from an addiction or mental health disorder will have different triggers ranging from specific people or places to facing financial hardship. Relapse prevention therapy gives those in recovery a better chance of finding long-term sobriety. Call 12 South Recovery at (888) 830-8374 to learn more.

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