A large number of individuals who seek treatment for an addiction will relapse shortly thereafter. A relapse can be defined as a setback with regards to the addictive substance. Usually an event happens that causes the individual to resume the damaging addiction and the lifestyle that had previously consumed them. Despite being armed with all the facts, tools, informational support and resources the treatment community can provide, the chronic relapser cannot or will not maintain a commitment to recovery in the absence of a structured environment, and eventually reverts to old behavior.
Why some people relapse and others succeed after addiction treatment is still a matter of discussion among professionals in the treatment community. Oftentimes, addicts find that once they enter the “real world,” they find their commitment and devotion to their sobriety fading. For these individuals, it’s not a question of whether or not they will relapse, but when they will relapse.
Whether you are the individual who is suffering from chronic relapse, or the loved one of a chronic relapser, chronic relapse can be extremely disheartening. The addict may feel as if they are a failure. Loved ones may feel as if the relapser did not make a concerted effort upon returning to society. Either way, it is crucial for both the relapser and his or her loved ones to understand that a relapse is just a temporary setback and sadly, is extremely common after addicts return to their “normal” lives.
Traditional treatment tools to avoid chronic relapse include inpatient treatment centers, extended care, addiction counseling, 12-step meetings and a strong connection to a particular sponsor. A few of the more successful chronic relapse treatment tools include addiction counseling and Personal Recovery Assistants.
Addiction counseling uncovers the reasons why the individual became addicted to the substance in question in the first place. The underlying problem that leads to the addiction usually includes family issues, peer pressure, bullying or other related issues. The addict can “escape” from these problems through their addiction. Addiction counseling forces the addict to recognize these issues and cope with their problems in a healthy, more effective way. Addiction counseling will also focus on the individual’s strengths and weaknesses. Addiction counseling will work with the individual to recognize these weaknesses and find ways to avoid situations that the addict finds difficult to handle. The addict’s strengths will be acknowledged and built upon so that the individual can find ways to introduce these strengths into otherwise difficult situations that may interfere with his or her recovery. The counselor will also offer practice in dealing with negative social interactions and explore ways to deal with them in certain social situations. For example, the counselor and the recovering alcoholic may role-play a variety of social situations that the individual may encounter alcohol. However successful addiction counseling is, it is ultimately up to the patient/recovering addict to utilize the educational tools provided to them.
Personal Recovery Assistants are either personally active in recovery (for a minimum of 5 years) and/or have professional experience in the addiction treatment field. A PRA is provided to the recovering addict to reinforce the foundation gained in a structured treatment environment. The PRA returns with the individual to their natural environment and ensures that the client sticks to their written treatment plan. The PRA serves as a mentor, offering guidance and support to the recovering addict during a very difficult time.
Although both of these methods have proven to be successful against chronic relapse, the success rate varies from person to person. What works for one individual does not necessarily work for another. The important thing to remember is that chronic relapse is not a failure on the part of the individual addict; it can be directly attributed to the failure of the drug rehab treatment program itself.