You’re trying to stop drinking, and maybe you’ve been successful for a while. You’ve managed to control your alcohol intake to reasonable levels, or you’ve managed to stay completely sober for some time.
So then what do you do if you have a lapse? You drink again, far more than you intended to, waking the next morning feeling terrible, that you’ve let yourself down maybe?
How you view this lapse will determine how you react to it. If you see it as a sign of failure, then your self esteem will suffer, you’ll lose hope and end up believing that the changes you’re trying to make are not possible, that you’re simply an alcoholic, you just can’t help it. This sort of belief can then lead you to drink even more – so a single mistake turns into a full relapse.
Or you could look at your mistake as just another occasion where you slipped back into old routines for a while. But that needn’t be a reason for you to give up hope, just a flag to remind you that, for the moment at least, you need to be very vigilant about your behaviour.
Observe your own feelings and thoughts, be aware of when you’re in the sort of mood where you usually want a drink – and do something about it, something different. (See – Dealing with Cravings). Acknowledge that you’re feeling weak or emotional – talk to someone about how you’re feeling generally. Don’t try to struggle through it alone.
Don’t forget, the best way to handle your feelings is to express them – talk about it. That way a lapse can remain just that, something you can learn from rather than an excuse to relapse completely.