Is a hyper person more likely to relapse?


Further Reading

Dear Stanton:

Do you feel that “hyper” behavior is a result of drinking, or a contributor to it? I used to believe the first statement was true, but after years of watching this person struggle to stop drinking, I wonder. He has gone through rehab twice, both times abstaining 3-4 months afterwards. He has also stopped on his own for the same length of time. I believe that if he could retire or have an easier job and have time to enjoy the things he loves (nature, gardening, traveling) he would not relapse so often.

It is pathetic and heartbreaking to watch someone do this to himself and his family.


Dear Bonnie:

I tend to agree it’s the cause of the drinking.

On the one hand, people might say that someone who is “hyper” (anxious, excitable) relies on alcohol as a tranquilizer, to even out their moods.

But I look at it differently. I see hyperactivity as a sign of life disorganization — people who respond to each stimuli without preparation. Life is happening to them, rather than the reverse. When you are that reactive, it is more likely that you will relapse.

The opposite approach is a planned life. No one can totally plan their life. But among the problems with treatment programs (like the one used by Sandra Bullock in the film, 24 Hours) is their lack of relation to people’s ordinary daily lives.

Here are some therapeutic activities to deal with this issue:

  • Identify high-relapse events — the kinds of things that are likely to lead (or have in the past) to using again;
  • Structure days to avoid the free time, “accidents,” or other identified causes of use;
  • Plan to deal with difficult events; i.e., How will I respond when I have a day with nothing to do and I get bored, or when I have a fight with my boss, when I have a bad day at work, when I fail to make a sale?
  • Plan how to deal with a relapse: What will I do after I have a drink in order to avoid having five drinks, to spend the day drinking, to return entirely to my former habit?;
  • How should I change my life to structure it better? Should I change jobs? What new activities and involvements will reform my life sufficiently to stop the kind of freneticism often associated with relapse and use — do I need to go to school, change jobs, change friends, create constructive projects, join a church, etc.?

Treatment often focuses on the reasons for use, or trust exercises, or spiritual support. What it most often misses are the ins and outs of the person’s habit and how these fit in with the person’s day, which in turn points to large issues the individual has to address in shaping that day.

Yours best,

Stanton Peele

Stanton Peele , recognized as one of the world's leading addiction experts by The Fix, developed the Life Process Program after decades of research, writing, and treatment about and for people with addictions. Dr. Peele is the author of 14 books. His work has been published in leading professional journals and popular publications around the globe.

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