Sometimes even after drug rehab or alcoholism treatment an individual reverts to the addictive behavior and falls back into their cycle of addiction. This can be days, months, or even years later. In some cases the old addiction is relapsed with a new addiction.
What is Chronic Relapse?
Chronic relapse is particularly hard on an addict and the family and friends of the addict. With each relapse the addicts confidence and internal strength is whittled away by repeated “failures” and the giving in to temptation. Sometimes this is simply not avoiding social or other ripe with temptation situations. It may be lack of a support system, or lack of a true feeling self-worth, the why avoid the inevitable syndrome.
Contributors to Chronic Relapse
They start off treatment so hopeful “this time will be different…” and find themselves back into old habits. In some cases this is a failure in their treatment programs. Selecting a treatment program that addresses both the symptoms (the drug addiction) and the causes (what contributed to the addiction) is very important for continued success. Life skills and after- treatment programs also contribute to a higher success rate.
The most important element of chronic relapse is to never give up. There is always hope. There are also many drug rehab programs and support options available. Recovering from an addiction is difficult and painful, but when achieved the awards and benefits are priceless.
How to stay in drug/alcohol recovery and avoid relapse
Drug and alcohol recovery is a lifelong process. Does this mean you are going to spend the rest of your life in rehab? Of course not, but it would be a very good idea to keep attending those support group meetings. One could even, after a few years of stability, become a sponsor and help others overcome addiction. This is essentially a group of people who understand the long process of drug and alcohol recovery and they can be accountability partners.
The lifelong drug and alcohol recovery process is why people say things like, “I’m a recovering alcoholic, 20 years sober.” This is a verbal acknowledgment by that person even after 20 years, there is a clear and present risk of falling into a pattern of chronic relapse. Talk it out and exchange ideas with others who are recovering from substance abuse problems. How are they staying clean and sober? Continuous involvement in a support group is not a sign of weakness it’s just smart.
Another important step is to identify why the addiction started in the first place – then avoid that in the future. Was it a particular social group? Make new friends. Job stress? Hit the help wanted ads and find a new place to work. Was it family? Seek out group, or family, therapy. This is often part of the stay in a drug rehab facility. Those who do not eliminate the seeds of negativity from their lives often fall into chronic relapse. Taking proactive steps can help prevent the life trauma that chronic relapse can bring.
Chronic relapse is a repeated backsliding into the old habits of a drug- or alcohol-dependent lifestyle. This is followed by repeated periods of repentance, regret, guilt and a renewed sense of determination to behave better going forward.
A recovering addict who is experiencing chronic relapse may need to reside in a treatment facility longer. They may simply need more intensive counseling, therapy, encouragement, and especially more preparation for coping with “real world” pressures while sober without turning to drug or drink.
Scientists have not been able to pinpoint what causes chronic relapse; it is different for everyone. Chronic relapse does appear to be caused by a very complex mix of psychological, emotional, physical, behavioral and environmental factors.
It is important for recovering addicts to understand from the start that chronic relapse is a possibility. It is important to note that regular attendance at therapy and counseling sessions, along with group support meetings, have been linked to a drastic decrease in chronic relapse vulnerability.
So even if a recovering addict slips up once or twice, a fresh start may be made, albeit with a little extra help as the journey back will be twice as hard. Sticking to basic lifestyle changes – like a new circle of friends and regular attendance at support meetings can help keep one slip-up from becoming chronic relapse.