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Why Do Some People Chronically Relapse?

Relapsing is one of the hardest parts of getting sober. Adjusting to a new, sober lifestyle is full of challenges, and to cope with them, you may be tempted to start using again. Even after you have maintained abstinence for some time, it’s still possible to return to addictive behaviors. This is not meant to discourage you, but rather help you recognize the importance of protecting your mental and emotional health. 

While some people end up relapsing once or twice in their lifetime, others suffer from chronic relapse. Chronic relapse occurs when you are constantly in and out of rehab and cannot maintain sobriety for an extended time. This cycle can cause additional problems in your life, including a lack of motivation to stay sober. 

If you are having trouble maintaining sobriety, do not give up hope. Chronic relapse does not mean you can’t be helped. The key is to find out what is causing the repeated relapses, and how to improve your treatment plan. 

Relapse is a Process You Can Learn to Recognize 

It’s important to know that it does not just happen out of the blue. It’s actually a process that involves three stages. By knowing what to look for, you can potentially ‘catch’ a relapse in progress. 

  • Emotional relapse. In this phase, you are not actively thinking about drugs and alcohol. However, your behaviors and emotions may be setting you up for relapse. Signs include not going to meetings, not practicing self-care, bottling up emotions and isolating yourself. 
  • Mental relapse. If the above issues are not resolved, you are likely to move onto mental relapse, which involves an internal war inside your mind. One part wants to use, and the other part does not. You may also experience cravings or put yourself in risky situations. 
  • Physical relapse. Physical relapse involves the use of drugs or alcohol. Even though it’s the most obvious stage, there are many signs that come first. 

What Triggers Chronic Relapse? 

Drug and alcohol relapse is common, and many experts agree that relapse is part of the recovery process. Even people dedicated to their recovery can relapse. Breaking habits takes time – think about how hard it is for people to stop biting their nails! But chronic relapses can take their toll and make you feel hopeless. 

Here are some common causes of chronic relapse

  • Mental health disorders. To be successful with recovery, mental disorders must be diagnosed correctly and treated appropriately. It’s possible that you are still dealing with trauma or symptoms of mental illness, and then turning to substances to escape. 
  • Lack of support. Not having enough support is a main trigger for relapse. You should have a supportive home environment and surround yourself with positive people who support your recovery. There are always ways to get more support, such as self-help groups, volunteering, support groups and group therapy. 
  • Environment. If you start spending time with toxic individuals or put yourself in unhealthy environments, you are more likely to succumb to the disease. You may also want to consider sober housing, as this will get you out of your current environment and away from your triggers. 
  • Isolation and boredom. Loneliness and boredom can quickly lead to relapse. Isolation allows you to be alone with your thoughts, and boredom allows cravings to creep in. To maintain sobriety, follow a structured routine, make new friends, find new hobbies and build a new lifestyle. 
  • Temptation. Not everyone has an easy time giving up drugs or alcohol. They may frequently fantasize about them, even if they’ve been sober for many years. This can lead to cravings and temptation, which can be hard to turn off. 

How to Prevent Chronic Relapse 

The cycle of relapse can be stopped. In many cases, you will sense when relapse may occur. However, you must be honest with yourself and in tune with your body. If you notice the signs of emotional or mental relapse, contact a mental health professional or addiction treatment facility. This way, you can get the help you need to prevent physical relapse. 

It’s also helpful to look at sobriety as a daily goal — instead of a lifetime goal. Taking things one day at a time is less overwhelming and allows you to focus on the next 24 hours. When things feel more manageable, it can lower stress levels and help you feel more in control of your journey. 

It’s also possible that you could benefit from additional treatment. Research shows that the longer people stay in treatment, the more likely they are to be successful in recovery. Many treatment programs offer aftercare, relapse prevention or extended outpatient programs, so this is a great place to start. 

Finally, make sure you follow your aftercare plan. This plan should be modified if you relapse, as relapse means something is not working. It’s possible you need a longer program, more time in therapy, or a new environment. Relapse does not mean failure. 

Full Recovery for Your Mind, Body and Spirit 

Awakenings Treatment Center is a holistic drug and alcohol rehab in Agoura Hills, CA. We recognize the toll that chronic relapse can have on a person and their family. But it’s important to know that even chronic relapse can be successfully stopped, and you can achieve a full recovery. 

With evidence-based and complementary therapies, our team ensures that all clients receive personalized attention and tailored treatment that meets their unique needs. And with our convenient outpatient programs, you will receive a high level of care while being able to living at home. To learn more about our programs and how we can help you avoid relapse, contact Awakenings Treatment Center today.