For people in early recovery, some have beginner’s luck. They may go through detox and withdrawal, successfully complete a 30-90 day rehab program, and then manage their recovery in such a way that the stars align and they do not relapse. For others, the third time might be the charm. They find themselves stumble a couple of times in early recovery, but stabilized after a few short-lived relapses. Still others, however, may find that sustained recovery eludes them. These individuals repeatedly concede to triggers and find themselves chronic relapsers.
Treatment and rehab for chronic relapser needs to be fine-tuned to address the factors at play with the repetitive relapses. The treatment plan designed at a rehab for chronic relapsers should encompass strategic plans that target points of weakness, help develop better coping skills, and take a deeper look at underlying psychological issues that are still unresolved.
What Causes Chronic Relapsing?
Chronic relapsing involves the repeated occurrence of falling back into drug or alcohol use following the successful completion of a treatment program. There is usually no dearth of knowledge about addiction for the chronic relapser, as many of them have completed rehab more than once. They have been thoroughly schooled about how addiction impacts brain chemistry. They have developed relapse prevention plans more than once. They may regularly attend 12-step meetings and truly desire to remain clean and sober.
However, for the individuals who find themselves once again actively using drugs or alcohol there is something missing. Something just didn’t click, even with all that treatment. There are many possible reasons to point to regarding why someone continues to relapse. Some of them include:
- Insufficient length of stay at rehab. Someone with a long history of addiction may need upwards of 3-12 months in treatment before they have been able to break down the old thought and behavior patterns and successfully replace them with new ones. It may take that long for brain chemistry and brain pathways to be restored. Sobriety takes practice, so for many individuals a 30-day program is insufficient to create lasting change.
- Underlying emotional issues or past traumas were not fully examined or resolved. If the source of pain is not dealt with adequately chances are the addictive behaviors will return when the first trigger appears. Rehabs need to place greater emphasis on this segment of the recovery process.
- Individual experiences significant life events that trigger the need for the crutch of addiction. This could involve child custody battles, sudden death of a loved one, loss of a job, divorce—even a positive event that is stress-inducing can spark the need for the substance.
- Not making adequate changes in lifestyle and environment. Upon completion of a treatment program, it is helpful to make lifestyle changes that will help reinforce sobriety rather than skipping this step and triggering a relapse. Ridding the home of substances, getting the family on board as a support system, making superficial changes in the living space so it doesn’t provoke memories of using or drinking, changing the group of people one surrounds themselves with, and avoiding situations that can be triggering are just some of the lifestyle changes that should be made.
- Many chronic relapsers do not honestly believe they can stop using long-term, even though they desire this. They may believe they are beyond repair, and harbor feelings of hopelessness, which can be a self-fulfilling prophecy.
- A coexisting mental health disorder that was not adequately treated in rehab. A mood disorder can undermine recovery. Those with a co-occurring disorder should be treated at a rehab that specializes in dual diagnosis. If the mood disorder is not medicated or managed, dependence on the substance to help ameliorate the symptoms will resume.
- Although the individual has completed one or more treatment programs and is well educated about the disease of addiction, they may not have an adequate understanding of how to actually implement what they have learned into real life.
- Chronic relapsers may be ambivalent about sobriety. They know they should want to be clean and sober, that their lives would improve in all areas. However, on some level they still desire the substance and have an internal battle between that desire and the desire for sobriety.
Rehab for Chronic Relapser
When faced with a chronic relapse the treatment plan must be extremely specialized. Chronic relapsers are often manipulative, charming, passionate, and intelligent people who may be adept at working the therapists. This individual needs at least 6 months in treatment if they are to overcome the addiction and avoid future relapses. They need a highly structured schedule and strict boundaries. Family therapy is important as well, as family dysfunction and enabling behaviors must be treated as well. Chronic relapsers must be held accountable and treatment should focus on their actions, not just their feelings.
Doubling back and revisiting the gaps in prior treatment should be a top priority in rehab for chronic relapsers. This would include:
- Identifying the underlying sources of emotional pain, and processing those feelings through therapy to achieve resolution
- Teaching more effective coping skills to improve resilience when exposed to triggers
- Identify the reasons surrounding each relapse and learn a different approach for managing recovery
- Use journaling to help identify thoughts and feelings that can be useful in bolstering recovery. Jotting down reasons to be grateful for recovery, how it has or will benefit their life helps them not take recovery for granted. List goals in recovery.
- Medically manage a co-occurring mental health disorder that was possibly overlooked or under-treated before.
Quest 2 Recovery Personalizes Rehab for Chronic Relapser
Quest 2 Recovery offers an intimate family-style approach to addiction recovery in a secluded, tranquil setting. The treatment team fully understands the obstacles that can trip up even the most promising recovery, and can design a personalized treatment plan for the individual who relapses repeatedly. Using a compassionate and evidence-based approach to overcoming chronic relapsing, the treatment team at Quest will zero in on the areas that can be further refined for a lasting recovery. For more information about rehab for chronic relapser and treatment programs, contact our admissions office today at (888) 453-9396.