The Cycle of Chronic Relapse

Chronic relapse is a repeated cycle wherein a person seeks help to overcome addiction, gets clean, and then later falls prey to substance abuse again. The chronic condition can see multiple repetitions of this cycle, frustrating everyone involved – the addict, their family and their doctors. A number of high-profile celebrity examples testify to the difficulty in avoiding chronic relapse.

Loving a person who has experienced chronic relapse is difficult. It is all too easy to fall prey to the idea that your loved one will never overcome their addiction. The truth, however, is that overcoming addiction is a long-term prospect for everyone who has abused substances, especially for those addicted to cocaine, alcohol and certain other drugs. For them, studies have revealed that normal neural brain function may not return for a year or more. Since many primary drug rehab treatment programs last only about one month (and addiction has often been raging for years), the potential for relapse can be significant.

How to Avoid Chronic Relapse

Potential is not the same as pre-determined. Addicts can seek help in drug rehab and find long-term success without needing to fall into the cycle of chronic relapse. There are several key elements to sustained victory over addiction.

  1. A long-term support network is crucial. This may include family, friends or a religious community, but the addict is most likely to succeed without relapse when surrounded by a group of caring individuals committed to supporting recovery.
  2. Studies show that attending group therapy can make a vital difference in success versus repeated relapse. Groups like Alcoholics Anonymous, Narcotics Anonymous and other group therapy sessions provide an understanding environment with others who can share how they successfully overcame addiction. The person facing a difficult battle and many life changes needs hope. Group settings can provide much needed examples to give that hope.
  3. Appropriate medical management can be important. Whether from a mental health professional, an addiction specialist or a family physician, the person’s chances of successful addiction recovery are boosted by having a health care professional monitor their progress. Especially following inpatient drug rehab, it will be key to not re-enter life as though a 30vday intervention has completely resolved the issue. When a trained pair of eyes is there, intervention can occur and relapse can be avoided.

Addiction experts agree that the single greatest factor in determining avoidance of chronic relapse is the willingness of the person to admit that their drug problem is too big for them to handle alone. Those who minimize their problem will likely be forced to deal with it again. It is a paradox that by confessing personal powerlessness, the person actually becomes empowered to overcome addiction. This is the basis for 12vstep methods; dependence on external help because of personal recognition that clench-fisted determination just isn’t enough.

What Chronic Relapse Means

Chronic relapse is a sign that the underlying root of addiction has not been sufficiently addressed; it doesn’t signal that the person is incurable. Just as a person who overeats or chain smokes is able to change their damaging behavior, so can a person dealing with substance addiction change their behavior.