Returning to drink is a major problem for recovering alcoholics; preventing this may be difficult, but it can be supported by continued therapy, positive motivation, and strong social support. Because 70 % of alcoholics relapse after only psychosocial treatment, medications are also important in preventing alcohol abuse relapses. Other ways to prevent relapse include changing routines, accepting a new sense of values, and avoiding activities or people associated with the drinking habit. For example, 90% of alcoholics smoke. Alcoholics who stop smoking as well as drinking are more likely to achieve long-term abstinence -- to say nothing of the other health benefits.
No single symptom defines alcoholism, but honest answers to the following questions will help you decide if you are at risk:
Has a friend or relative ever suggested that you drink too much?
Is it hard to stop drinking after you have had one or two drinks?
Have you ever been unable to remember what you did during a drinking episode?
Do you ever feel bad about how much you drink?
Do you get into arguments or physical fights when you've been drinking?
Have you ever been arrested or hospitalized because of drinking?
Have you ever thought about getting help to control or stop your drinking?
Do you miss work or fail to complete obligations due to drinking?
If you answered yes to one or more questions, you may have a serious alcohol problem. For your own good, it's time to discuss the situation openly with a doctor or mental health professional.
According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA), people who drink in moderation are less likely to develop alcohol dependence. NIAAA defines ''moderate'' as no more than 4 drinks in a day and 14 drinks per week for men and no more than 3 drinks per day and 7 drinks per week for women. A drink is defined as 12 ounces of beer or one 5-ounce glass of wine or 1.5 ounces of distilled spirits.