5 Recovery Rules, Relapse, & Thanksgiving

2 min read · 1 sections

The holidays are about enjoying time with family and other loved ones—especially for Thanksgiving. We can all use this togetherness and comradery after the last two challenging years we’ve faced. And depending on who you ask, this holiday enjoyment may include drinking alcohol over dinner conversation or in front of a football game on TV. For those not battling an alcohol use disorder (AUD), one or two drinks in a day may be manageable. But for those who are sober, a drink may cost them their sobriety. And although relapsing is often part of the process in achieving long-term sobriety, it’s best to minimize the duration of a relapse as well as the number of relapses as much as possible.

Some individuals relapse 1-3 times, or more, before ultimately living their life in recovery for the long-haul. Relapse is when an individual discontinues working towards their goal of avoiding or decreasing their use of alcohol. This isn’t meant to discourage anyone, but instead to let those struggling with an addiction to alcohol to understand that help and resources are available, sobriety is a process that can take time, and even when triggers and a compulsion to drink seem to win, all hope isn’t lost.

American Addiction Centers (AAC), a nationwide leader in addiction treatment, provides medical detox in a safe environment, inpatient and outpatient treatment, and aftercare planning in order to help individuals to maintain their sobriety long-term. If you’re struggling with an AUD, you’re not alone. You can reach out for help.


Relapse vs. Lapse

Individuals shouldn’t confuse “relapsing” with “lapsing” when it comes to breaking sobriety. While relapse and lapse are both a reversion back to alcohol consumption after a period of time of not drinking, a lapse is a temporary and brief break from an individual’s recovery goals. For example, drinking one alcoholic beverage at a party and then returning to one’s goals. Compare this to a relapse, which may last for weeks, months, or even years.

Neither a lapse nor relapse is ideal for anyone battling an AUD, nor is intentionally planning to lapse temporarily with the intent to return to sobriety a viable solution. A lapse can very well evolve into a relapse. Maintaining sobriety with a support system in place is the best solution to long-term recovery.

Part of what helps those who are sober to maintain their sobriety is to create a set of guidelines to live by in order to holdCropped image of man gesturing to not accept the drink that is in front of him in order to avoid relapse. oneself accountable.

Five rules of recovery:


  • Change your life. This means to create a new life that supports an alcohol-free lifestyle through the friends you keep, minimizing negative thinking patterns, and integrating these five rules within your life.


  • Be honest. Although this is self-explanatory, this level of honesty begins with being honest within your “recovery circle.” This includes family, sponsors, self-help groups, counselors, and doctors. As you feel ready, you can expand who is part of this circle.


  • Ask for help. Again, another rule that is self-explanatory, but so important. Instead of working towards maintaining recovery on your own, aim to make good use of the resources available to you in order to have a strong support system.


  • Practice self-care. Self-care includes mind-body relaxation.


  • Don’t bend the rules. Avoid looking for loopholes, ignoring sound advice provided by counselors, doctors, and support groups, or sabotaging the change that supports the sober life you seek by attempting to “do recovery [your] way.”

If you’ve relapse and are struggling with an addiction to alcohol, you’re not alone. There are resources available to help you achieve long-term sobriety during the holidays and beyond. Please reach out to get the help that you need today.



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