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Steps to Long Term Recovery From Alcoholism

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Embarking on the journey of long term recovery alcoholism can feel like an overwhelming and daunting task. But fear not, for the path to long-term sobriety is paved with a multitude of resources, support networks, and coping strategies that can serve as your guiding light. In this blog post, we’ll explore the various facets of this journey, from understanding alcoholism as a chronic disease to developing healthy coping mechanisms and engaging in aftercare programs. Strap in and let us be your compass, navigating the complex world of long term recovery alcoholism together.

Key Takeaways

  • Alcoholism is a chronic brain disease requiring proper attention and treatment.
  • Personal motivation, supportive networks, and effective coping mechanisms are essential for long-term recovery from alcoholism.
  • Aftercare programs provide ongoing support to sustain sobriety and prevent relapse by reinforcing skills acquired during treatment.

The Journey to Long-Term Recovery from Alcoholism

A person struggling with alcohol addiction, looking for help and long-term recovery

Long-term recovery from alcohol use disorder is a lifelong commitment that necessitates dedication and support. The process includes detoxification, establishing drinking goals, obtaining treatment, forming healthy coping mechanisms, and participating in aftercare and relapse prevention. Emotional support is a critical component of this journey, and it can come from various sources such as family members, friends, counselors, other recovering alcoholics, healthcare providers, and people from faith communities.

Alcohol treatment programs often emphasize the importance of support networks in the recovery process, as they offer motivation, solace, and direction. Overcoming alcohol dependence also requires individuals to recognize and evade potential stimulants, handle strain and feelings, and foster resilience. Establishing a quit date, tracking alcohol consumption, and designating alcohol-free days are all recommended strategies for individuals in addiction treatment and recovery.

Understanding Alcoholism as a Chronic Disease

Alcoholism, a form of substance abuse, is classified as a chronic brain disease. In its early stages, a person may perceive their alcohol use to be positive and not harmful. However, long-term alcohol abuse can have detrimental consequences on the body. Prolonged and excessive consumption of alcohol can cause damage to vital organs, and the cells in the body become increasingly tolerant to the short-term effects of alcohol while the long-term damage persists. Alcohol use disorders, such as alcoholism, are serious conditions that require proper attention and treatment.

Heavy alcohol use can lead to a physical dependence where a person may experience withdrawal symptoms without a certain level of alcohol in their body. According to a research published in Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA), alcohol dependence is similar to chronic diseases such as diabetes or hypertension, which require ongoing management and treatment. Additionally, drug abuse can also result in similar consequences and dependencies.

Acknowledging alcoholism as a chronic disease underscores the need for ongoing care and support throughout the journey to recovery.

The Role of Personal Motivation

Maintaining personal motivation is a critical factor in achieving long-term sobriety. It serves as the impetus that assists individuals to remain concentrated on their objectives and take steps to accomplish them. Moreover, it is vital for overcoming obstacles in the recovery process, such as dealing with alcohol withdrawal symptoms, as it furnishes the required motivation to persist even when confronted with difficulties.

Sustaining personal motivation can be challenging, as it necessitates individuals to remain concentrated and motivated even when confronted with obstacles. Furthermore, individuals may have difficulty staying motivated if they do not have a robust support system or if they are not perceiving the progress they seek. Intensive outpatient treatment programs can provide additional support and structure to help maintain motivation during the recovery process.

Treatment Options for Long-Term Recovery

A person in a treatment program, receiving help and support for alcohol addiction

A doctor or recovery advisor may discuss various treatment options such as inpatient and outpatient treatment programs, medication-assisted treatment, and holistic approaches with someone suffering from alcoholism. The initial step in pursuing treatment for alcohol addiction is typically to consult a primary care doctor or GP. Factors such as the amount of alcohol consumed, the duration of the addiction, the stability of the living environment, and any other existing health conditions are taken into consideration when determining the best treatment option for alcohol addiction.

Do keep in mind that numerous treatment options are available to those who are seeking long-term recovery from alcoholism, and the most suitable option for each individual will depend on their particular circumstances. The subsections below will further explore these diverse treatment options, outlining their benefits and drawbacks, and discussing how they can aid individuals on their path to recovery.

Inpatient and Outpatient Treatment Programs

For those seeking treatment for alcoholism, inpatient and outpatient programs serve as two primary options. Inpatient treatment facilities enable individuals to remain at the center while recuperating, providing a stable and supportive environment away from potential triggers and distractions. However, inpatient treatment programs may necessitate individuals to be away from their family and/or place of employment, which can be a drawback for some.

On the other hand, outpatient facilities permit individuals to reside in their own residence while receiving treatment, allowing them to maintain their daily routines and responsibilities. Intensive outpatient programs provide a more structured and comprehensive approach to treatment, which can be particularly beneficial for individuals with more severe alcohol dependence or co-occurring psychiatric disorders.

Ultimately, the choice between inpatient and outpatient treatment will depend on an individual’s specific needs, preferences, and circumstances.

Medication-Assisted Treatment

Medication-assisted treatment involves using medications to manage withdrawal symptoms, cravings, and concurrent mental health disorders in the course of recovery. A medical professional or an addiction specialist should be consulted to acquire more information regarding detoxification.

Medications employed for the treatment of alcoholism encompass those that assist with withdrawal symptoms, alcohol cravings, and anxiety. Medications can be a valuable tool in addressing withdrawal symptoms, cravings, and co-occurring mental health disorders during the recovery process. They can help ease the physical discomfort and psychological distress associated with withdrawal, making it more manageable for individuals to focus on their recovery and maintain sobriety.

In 2015, scientists from Yale Medical School confirmed that MAT increases the chances of addiction recovery, ” Buprenorphine, compared with brief intervention and referral, significantly increased engagement in formal addiction treatment, reduced self-reported illicit opioid use, and decreased use of inpatient addiction treatment services.” (Emergency department-initiated buprenorphine/naloxone treatment for opioid dependence: a randomized clinical trial, D’Onofrio et al., 2015)

Holistic Approaches

An image showing a person practicing yoga, which is a holistic approach for long term recovery alcoholism.

Holistic approaches are forms of healing or therapy that take into account the entirety of a person – body, mind, spirit, and emotions. Examples of holistic approaches include:

  • Yoga
  • Meditation
  • Acupuncture
  • Massage therapy
  • Aromatherapy
  • Herbal remedies

These alternative and complementary treatments can be particularly beneficial in addressing the physical, emotional, and spiritual aspects of recovery, promoting overall well-being and resilience.

Holistic approaches can supplement traditional treatment methods by providing supplementary assistance and helping to identify root causes that may be contributing to the addiction. They can also help to reduce stress and anxiety, enhance overall health and wellbeing, and offer a sense of affiliation and meaning.

Incorporating holistic approaches into their recovery plan could help individuals achieve a more balanced and comprehensive journey to long-term sobriety.

The Importance of Support Networks

A family supporting a person in recovery from alcohol addiction

Constructing and sustaining robust support networks is significant in attaining lasting recovery from alcoholism, as it furnishes individuals with the requisite social and emotional support to aid them in staying on course with their recovery objectives. The key factors reported by individuals in long-term recovery were highlighted in a study. These include social and community support, affiliation with 12-step organizations, and negative consequences of substance use. Assistance and support from family, friends, and peers (including “interventions by someone”) are essential for recovery.

The importance of social support in addictive disorders is paramount, as it highlights the essential role of the social environment in the treatment and resolution of such disorders. The upcoming subsections will explore various types of support networks accessible to individuals in recovery, and discuss how they can contribute to long-term sobriety and overall well-being.

Family and Friends

Family and friends can offer emotional assistance and motivation during the recovery process, providing a nurturing environment, showing understanding, and fostering a sense of belonging. Their assistance can assist individuals to stay determined, responsible, and provide emotional aid during difficult times.

Moreover, family and friends can help individuals stay away from triggers and give a network of support and encouragement in the course of the recovery process. Organizations such as Al-Anon provide support for individuals affected by a loved one’s alcohol use.

Through interactions with family and friends, individuals in recovery can build a robust support system, which can significantly contribute to their journey towards long-term sobriety, making it easier to navigate through the challenges that may arise along the way.

Professional Support

Working with healthcare providers can provide individuals with alcoholism with:

  • Professional guidance to better comprehend their condition and devise a plan for recovery
  • Medical counsel and assistance
  • Access to medications and other treatments

Counselors can provide individuals with alcoholism with:

  • Emotional support and guidance
  • Assistance in recognizing and managing potential contributing factors to their addiction, such as mental health issues or trauma
  • Help in cultivating coping mechanisms and abilities to control their addiction
  • Support and direction to aid individuals in remaining consistent with their recovery program

Therapists play a crucial role in helping individuals with long term alcohol abuse on their journey to recovery.

Engaging with professional support provides individuals in recovery with access to specialized care and resources necessary for effectively managing their alcoholism and any concurrent mental health issues, including other mental health disorders.

Peer Support Groups and Alcoholics Anonymous

Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) is a recovery support group that offers a sense of community and accountability for individuals in recovery from alcohol abuse. AA provides:

  • A safe and supportive space for individuals to share their experiences
  • Opportunities to learn from one another
  • A chance to work together towards a common goal of sobriety

In addition to AA, there are other support organizations available for individuals dealing with alcohol addiction, such as:

  • Women for Sobriety
  • SMART Recovery
  • Al-Anon
  • Alateen

Participation in peer support groups allows individuals in recovery to draw from the shared wisdom, experience, and encouragement of others who have encountered similar challenges, fostering a sense of camaraderie and accountability that can be vital in maintaining long-term sobriety. Moreover, in a recent research published in the journal Substance Abuse and Rehabilitation, active participation in peer support groups reduce drug use, improves treatment engagement, and helps with drug cravings during the withdrawal stage.

Developing Healthy Coping Mechanisms

A person in recovery from alcohol addiction, learning to cope with triggers and stress

Healthy coping mechanisms are essential for individuals in recovery from alcoholism, as they can help to manage stress, triggers, and cravings in order to maintain long-term sobriety. Some examples of healthy coping mechanisms include:

  • Setting and upholding boundaries
  • Performing relaxation techniques like deep breathing
  • Engaging in creative activities
  • Seeking social assistance
  • Engaging in healthy communication

Establishing and maintaining boundaries is essential for sustaining sobriety, as it promotes a feeling of safety and security. Additionally, it can help to avert relapse by providing a sense of control and structure.

The next few subsections will delve into various coping strategies to manage stress, triggers, and cravings, exploring their contribution to long-term sobriety.

Identifying and Avoiding Triggers

Triggers are specific events, situations, or emotions that can potentially cause a relapse or a return to addictive behaviors. They can differ from individual to individual, but typically encompass:

  • Stress
  • Certain places or people
  • Negative emotions
  • Particular activities or substances

Identifying triggers can be achieved through self-reflection and journaling, as it is essential to be cognizant of your thoughts, feelings, and behaviors in order to discern patterns that may lead to a relapse.

To prevent relapse, it is necessary to avoid certain people, places, or activities that can potentially lead to a relapse. By recognizing and avoiding triggers, individuals in recovery can minimize the risk of relapse and maintain their long-term sobriety.

Managing Stress and Emotions

Managing stress and emotions is critical for long-term recovery from alcoholism. It has several benefits, including:

  • Minimizing the chance of relapse
  • Enhancing coping skills
  • Boosting emotional well-being
  • Avoiding negative coping mechanisms

By implementing these strategies, individuals in recovery are better equipped to handle challenges and stressors that may arise during their journey, ultimately reducing the risk of relapse and maintaining their sobriety.

Building Resilience

Resilience is the capacity to endure and adjust to difficult circumstances, such as those experienced in overcoming alcoholism. It necessitates the acquisition of the aptitudes and techniques to regulate stress, confront obstacles, and sustain an optimistic attitude.

Resilience plays an important role in overcoming setbacks and challenges during the recovery process by equipping individuals with the skills and strategies to manage stress, cope with setbacks, and maintain a positive outlook. Building resilience enables individuals in recovery to better tackle the challenges and setbacks that might surface during their journey, ultimately increasing their chances of long-term success and sobriety.

Aftercare and Relapse Prevention

A person in recovery from alcohol addiction, attending an aftercare program and learning relapse prevention techniques

Aftercare programs are essential in sustaining long-term sobriety, as they provide individuals with ongoing assistance and instruction, as well as support to increase the likelihood of a successful long-term recovery. Aftercare is a long-term program of continued treatment at a rehab center for drug addicts that is used following completion of an acute phase of treatment for a substance use disorder.

The following subsections will discuss how aftercare programs reinforce skills learned during treatment and share practical tips and techniques for relapse prevention.

The Role of Aftercare Programs

Aftercare programs are intended to reinforce skills acquired during treatment and offer continued support for individuals in recovery. Several different components of a robust aftercare program include:

  • Individual counseling
  • Group counseling
  • Peer support
  • Relapse prevention strategies

These components work together to provide ongoing support and help individuals maintain their recovery.

Participation in aftercare programs can help to solidify the skills and strategies learned during treatment, while also providing ongoing support and resources to ensure that individuals in recovery stay on track and maintain their sobriety. Engagement with aftercare programs enables individuals to continue building on their progress made during treatment, thereby further strengthening their foundation for long-term sobriety.

Relapse Prevention Techniques

Relapse prevention is a set of strategies and techniques designed to assist individuals in recovery from substance use disorders to identify and manage triggers, cravings, and other factors that can contribute to relapse. A personalized relapse prevention plan is an individualized plan that outlines strategies and techniques to assist an individual in recovery from substance use disorder to recognize and address triggers, cravings, and other elements that can lead to relapse.

To avoid relapse, one should consider:

  • Avoiding high-risk situations
  • Creating a support system
  • Engaging in healthy activities
  • Utilizing mindfulness and relaxation techniques

Implementation of these relapse prevention techniques helps individuals in recovery minimize the risk of relapse and sustain their long-term sobriety.

Steps To Long Term Recovery From Alcoholism


In conclusion, the journey to long-term recovery from alcoholism is a complex and multifaceted process that requires dedication, support, and the development of healthy coping mechanisms. By understanding alcoholism as a chronic disease, exploring various treatment options, building strong support networks, and engaging in aftercare programs, individuals can successfully navigate the challenges of recovery and achieve lasting sobriety. Remember, the road to recovery may be long, but with the right tools and resources, it is a journey well worth taking.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can your body heal from years of drinking?

With the right help, your body can start healing from years of drinking in a relatively short time, and almost all damage done by extreme alcohol abuse is fully reversible within a year.

With the right help, you can start to feel better and healthier in no time. You can start to see the positive effects of quitting drinking and begin to enjoy life again. You can start to feel more energized and motivated, and you can start to make healthier choices.

What are the long term effects of sobriety?

Regular sobriety can lead to improved mental health, as well as physical benefits such as decreased liver fat and lowered levels of bad cholesterol.

These positive effects will promote overall wellbeing for the long-term.

Can a former alcoholic live a long life?

Former alcoholics can live a long life if they make necessary lifestyle changes, as confirmed by medical experts, which can prevent further damage and significantly increase their life expectancy.

Making lifestyle changes can be difficult, but it is essential for former alcoholics to take the necessary steps to ensure their health and longevity. With the right support and guidance, former alcoholics can make the necessary changes to their lifestyle and reap the rewards of a healthy lifestyle.

What is the average length of sobriety in AA?

On average, AA members report successful sobriety of over five years.

However, the success rate is low, indicating a difficult journey for many.

What is the main difference between inpatient and outpatient treatment programs?

Inpatient alcohol treatment programs require individuals to stay at the treatment facility, while outpatient programs allow individuals to continue living at home and maintain their daily routines.


Warren Phillips

Warren is a Licensed Master Social Worker, who specializes in substance abuse and mental health treatment. Clinically, Warren has developed a therapeutic skillset that utilizes a strengths-based perspective, Twelve Step philosophies, Cognitive Behavioral Therapy and Motivational Interviewing.

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Located on the historic peninsula of Charleston, South Carolina, Lantana Recovery takes a modern approach to Substance Use Disorder treatment, offering intensive clinical care while also immersing our clients in local Charleston culture.