The Different Challenges of Quitting Alcohol Versus Drugs

The Different Challenges of Quitting Alcohol Versus Drugs

Alcohol recovery is similar to the recovery process for other abused substances

While alcohol is a drug, the recovery process for alcohol is somewhat different than recovery for other drugs such as heroin, Vicodin or Xanax. Yes, there are some similar side effects for all substance abuse including having money problems, lying, being isolated from others, acting abnormally and having relationship problems. While these problems are often the same, there are some unique challenges that come with alcohol addiction. When an individual in recovery sees, smells or hears about alcohol, it is possible that these could be triggers that cause cravings to drink again. Think about it: if you start to think only of the positive effects from an activity, you subconsciously will likely start to want to do it again. This is not to be negative but rather to make you aware about the situation. You are more likely to relapse with alcohol abuse than other drug use. Every time you are tempted, the amount of self-control you have decreases because the amount of discipline you have is finite. If you are a recovering alcoholic and you live with someone who drinks or spend time with others who drink, please be very self-aware and only do so in very limited amounts with accountability. There is no doubt it is very challenging to live a sober life as an alcoholic, but the great news is that you can do it. Many others have and you can do the same. The following are some things to consider when in alcohol recovery:

Alcohol Is Very Easy to Find

Alcohol is much easier to find than other drugs like Xanax. Because it is a legal substance, alcohol is found in many locations such as convenience stores, drug stores, grocery stores, restaurants and bars. Many concerts or sporting events have alcohol as well. Alcohol is also very affordable when compared to some other drugs. Alcohol is a very common substance, so it is found in many different household substances such as hand sanitizers, mouthwash, breath fresheners, perfumes and colognes or vanilla extract. Even cough syrup can be abused by an alcoholic, so extra precautions need to take place when you are in recovery for alcoholism. If you are early in your recovery, if at all possible, please do not tempt yourself by visiting the same places where you once purchased alcohol. Yes, it is inconvenient, but if you are shopping for groceries by yourself, it is important to establish new healthy routines. If you cannot shop at new stores, shop with a friend who can provide you some support and accountability.

Alcohol Is Aggressively Marketed

If you watch television—especially on the weekend—you will see many advertisements for different alcoholic beverages. In fact, some beer companies sponsor sporting events or sports talk shows so they mention alcohol many times during the broadcast. There is likely footage shown of the crowd drinking and tailgating during games as well. Alcohol is also shown in different forms of media such as movies or TV shows. Some characters may get drunk as part of a show or even in a book. You will also see alcohol featured in different promotional use like radio advertisements, billboards, websites and signs at restaurants. For these reasons, you have to be very sensitive to what you watch. If you are a football fan, it is probably a good idea to record the games so you can fast forward through all of the commercials.

Alcohol Is often Culturally Accepted

According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, slightly more than half of Americans aged 12 or older report being current drinkers of alcohol.[1] In many circles it is culturally acceptable to party with alcohol in college. What starts out as social drinking can easily lead to substance abuse. As you know, toasts are very common at celebrations such as weddings or New Year’s Eve. In some families, wine or beer are very common with dinner. While traditions vary from family to family, it is very uncommon for a parent to do illegal drugs in front of other family members. This makes it easier to rationalize if you have been sober for a while and you may say, “I’m just going to have one drink.” Then if you handle that one drink alright the next time you may say, “It’s no big deal if I have a couple drinks.” Before you know it, you will likely find yourself binge drinking or even displaying alcoholic behavior. Set your firm boundary of no drinking at all and have your support network—that is your close friends, family, sponsor, therapist and even your doctor—hold you accountable.

Get Treatment for Your Alcohol Problems

If you are struggling with alcohol, one of the best steps you can take is to reach out for support from other alcoholics. There are groups like Alcoholics Anonymous that can give you the support you need. These support groups use proven strategies to help you with your addiction.

You may think you have your drinking under control, but you likely do not. Alcohol leads to many different health problems. Research shows that alcohol contributes to over 200 diseases and injury-related health conditions, most notably alcohol dependence, liver cirrhosis, cancers and injuries.[2] You may be a functional alcoholic, who is someone who is able to hold down a job and take care of children while continuing to drink. Be honest with yourself and your situation. If you struggling with alcohol abuse, addiction to other drugs like Xanax or just need some help after slipping up in your recovery, please call our 24 hour, toll-free helpline. Our counselors know how you feel. They are trained specifically in this area. Call now to move forward today.


[1] Alcohol, October 30th, 2015.

[2] Alcohol Facts and Statistics

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