What Causes Chronic Relapse?

When someone gets treatment for a drug or alcohol-related addiction, he or she must learn how to adjust to a new, sober lifestyle.

The time that used to be spent using drugs and alcohol needs to be replaced with healthy and sober activities that don’t trigger the desire to use substances. Getting professional treatment can help recovering addicts learn how to cope with their emotions, but the hard work must happen from within the individual.
During and after treatment, many people relapse and regress to the point of using drugs and alcohol again. It’s estimated that between 40-60% of people in addiction treatment relapse at some point during their lifetime. The rate of substance abuse relapse is lower than relapse rates for chronic conditions such as asthma and high blood pressure.

While some people may relapse once or twice in their lifetime, others suffer from what is known as chronic relapse. Chronic relapse occurs when someone is constantly in and out of treatment and cannot maintain their sobriety for an extended period of time. This cycle of treatment and substance abuse can cause additional problems that include a lack of motivation to stay sober.

What Triggers Chronic Relapses?

Drug and alcohol relapses are incredibly common. Many mental health and addiction specialists believe that relapse is a normal part of the recovery process. Even people who are completely dedicated to their treatment program can revert and fall back into their old ways.

It’s important to note that relapsing does not mean that treatment has failed or that the person is not strong enough to overcome his or her addictive habit. Ultimately, addiction is an extremely strong routine, and breaking a habit takes time. It’s quite normal to fail several times before you eventually come to a complete stop.

Chronic relapses are triggered by a variety of conditions and relapse triggers are typically different for every person depending on the situation. Some of the most common reasons why recovering addictions relapse consistently is:

1. Undiagnosed mental health disorders
Most people who suffer from addiction have at least one underlying mental health disorder or trauma that has not yet been addressed. If the mental issues are not addressed during addiction recovery, relapse becomes significantly more likely in that situation. When symptoms of a mental illness arise, the person may be tempted to use substances to cope with or numb their emotions to the pain.

2. Lack of support
Lack of support is one of the major triggers for chronic relapse. After treatment, recovering addicts must have a strong support system in place to maintain balance. They need to be surrounded by positive people who can encourage and motivate them to stay sober. If a person goes back to a dysfunctional family dynamic after leaving treatment, the possibility of relapse can occur.

3. Isolation
Isolation and boredom are two of the most dangerous feelings people can experience during recovery. Isolation allows people to be alone with their thoughts and creates room for certain cravings to creep in out of nowhere. After receiving treatment, recovering addicts need to find healthy ways to occupy their time. That means finding new hobbies, making new friends, and making certain lifestyle changes in order to avoid relapse.

4. Environment
A person’s environment has a huge impact on addiction and relapse. Someone who lives in an unhealthy habitat, spends time with toxic individuals, or is easily influenced by peer pressure, is more likely to engage in risky behavior such as using drugs and alcohol. After leaving treatment, that person’s past environment is most likely not going to change. As a result, it can lead to chronic relapse if there is a constant desire to use substances after treatment.

what causes chronic relapse

5. Withdrawal symptoms
When people attempt to quit drugs and alcohol on their own, oftentimes they fail when they start to experience withdrawal symptoms. Depending on the substance, withdrawal symptoms can be extremely uncomfortable and that can trigger people to start using again. People who suffer from severe or chronic addictions can reduce their risk of relapse by undergoing medical detox.

6. Temptation
Many people who are in recovery continue to experience cravings, even though they have been sober for many years. As new drugs become readily available, the temptation to try something new might be alluring for certain people. Not to mention, modern drugs are stronger and more powerful than previous ones. If a person cannot resist his or her cravings, it can cause a chronic relapse.

If you are considering treatment for yourself or a loved one, call us today.

How to Prevent Chronic Relapse

Although it is nearly impossible to always prevent relapses from occurring, there are some steps that people can take to reduce the chance of relapse to transpire. Finding healthy hobbies, managing mental health, finding a solid support system, staying busy, avoiding trigger people or places, and continuing with mental health treatment is very important, especially in early recovery.

In many cases, people in recovery can sense when relapse may occur. If that happens, contacting a mental health professional or reaching out to a treatment facility can prevent the person from using substances. The community in the support system should also be aware of the potential signs of relapse so they can intervene if needed.

Recovering alcoholics who attend Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) are taught the phrase, “live one day at a time.” It comes from the concept that every individual has 24 hours of sobriety. Each person has a daily obligation to manage his or her own sobriety, one day at a time. By looking at sobriety as a daily task and not a lifetime goal, you can help make sobriety seem more manageable.

When someone does relapse, going back to treatment is of the utmost importance. In cases of chronic relapse, a traditional 30-day program might not be enough for some people. They might see more success by starting a 90-day treatment program or moving into a sober living home. A treatment professional can recommend a long-term program to reduce future relapses.

If you or a loved one struggles with addiction, help is available. Nexus Recovery specializes in addiction treatment and encompasses holistic therapy for the mind, body, and soul, with a focus on staying active and connected to nature. Our mission is to provide tools and support for every client’s seamless transition into an essential and fulfilling life of sobriety. We offer a free and confidential consultation.

If you are considering treatment for yourself or a loved one, call us today at (310) 881-9151.

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