Can Alcoholics Drink Again Without Consequences?

The question of “can alcoholics drink again?” is one that alcoholics are sure to consider from time to time. On the one hand, rehabs and groups like Alcoholics Anonymous tell alcoholics that they can’t drink again without risking relapse. On the other hand, some people who used to have alcohol problems are seemingly about to drink again without too many harmful consequences.

To help you navigate this question, Sobriety and Wellbeing have written this blog that will tell you, once and for all, whether alcoholics can drink again.

Can Alcoholics Drink Again?

The short answer to whether alcoholics can drink again is a flat “no.” The reason for this can be found in the definition of alcoholism itself – “the condition of being unable to stop drinking too much alcohol, often causing you to be unable to live and work in society.”

From this, we can understand that when an alcoholic begins drinking alcohol, they are unable to stop. This inability to stop is due to a compulsion that means the alcoholic cannot cease drinking, no matter how hard they try.

People with alcohol use disorder are often not able to stop even when they experience dire consequences. An alcoholic may continue drinking despite losing their job, family and home from drinking.

When an alcoholic person is able to achieve sobriety by going through alcohol detoxification and then addressing the reasons why they started drinking, this compulsion to drink is often lifted. But as soon as this person resumes drinking again, they once more find it impossible to stop.

You may know people who had a severe problem with alcohol but now seem able to drink again like other people. There are two explanations for this. The first is that this person did not have alcohol use disorder in the first place and therefore can stop when they want.

The second answer is that this person is able to temporarily maintain the outward perception that they can drink without problems. Still, the reality is that they are already struggling with alcohol again.

Functioning alcoholics can sometimes act as though they are fine and not drinking for long periods of time, while in reality, they are deep in alcoholism and are suffering immensely. Eventually, the cracks emerge, and the people around them realise they are in trouble.

Why Do People Become Alcoholics?

Long-term alcohol exposure leads to neuroadaptive changes, which affect the structure and function of brain regions involved in decision-making, impulse control and emotional regulation. The prefrontal cortex plays a role in all these functions and is particularly vulnerable to alcohol-related damage. Once this damage happens, it is far more difficult for the alcoholic to cease drinking.

Genetic factors also play a role in susceptibility to alcoholism. Certain genetic variations may influence a person’s response to alcohol, making them more prone to developing AUD.

Chronic alcohol use can also affect the stress response system, including the release of stress hormones like cortisol. Dysregulation in the body’s stress response may contribute to increased vulnerability to alcohol dependence.

Perhaps the most crucial factor that affects whether someone will develop alcoholism is their early childhood experiences. If a child is raised in a loving family and feels supported and has all their needs met, it is unlikely they will develop alcoholism when they are older.

On the other hand, if a child grows up in an environment that is stressful, where they do not feel loved, or when they encounter abuse, the risk of them developing alcoholism at an earlier age is much greater.

Some people report being alcoholics from their very first drink. It is common to hear stories in alcohol recovery groups of a person stealing alcohol from their parent’s liquor cabinet and drinking until they are sick on their first encounter with alcohol.

Other alcoholics report not having a problem with alcohol until much later in life. Often, a traumatic event or grief causes them to substantially increase the amount they drink, and they find that they are unable to stop as they could in the past.

The largest group of alcoholics are usually somewhere in between these two. A “typical” alcoholic often begins by drinking more than the average person, occasionally getting in trouble from their behavior while drinking. As time goes on, their drinking increases to the point that it becomes harmful. Often, it is a traumatic event that tips the addicted person’s drinking into a seriously harmful pattern.

Can You Reverse Alcoholism?

Once you have developed alcoholism, it is impossible to reverse due to structural changes in the brain. These changes mean that if you attempt to drink alcohol again, it is likely that you will lapse back into active alcohol dependence again.

It is, however, possible to reverse some of the damage caused by alcohol use disorder. All the organs affected by alcohol do have the capacity to heal, as long as they are not critically impaired, as in the case of cirrhosis of the liver.

For this healing to take place, you must maintain an extended period of sobriety. Remember that lapsing back into active addiction will cause continued damage to your body and mind.

Getting Help For Alcoholism

If you are struggling with alcoholism, there is help available. Sobriety and Wellbeing offers home alcohol detoxification in the UK, allowing you to take the first step towards recovery from alcohol.

We also offer aftercare services that will support you in staying sober in the long term. For more information on our unique home services, contact us today on 0800 002 5397.