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May 1, 2018

5 Ways Long-Term Treatment Can Help if you are a Chronic Relapser


The disease of addiction is extremely complex and cyclical. This means that there are often a number of different layers of one’s addiction and the patterns associated with this disease often repeat themselves over and over. In many cases, individuals cannot find their way out of addiction and continuously struggle with using and stopping and using again. When this is occurring, an individual is at significant risk for causing irreversible damage to his or her physical or psychological well-being, as well as potentially suffering a fatal overdose. And, when futile attempts at stopping use are constantly backfiring, it is likely that professional treatment is needed to achieve that goal and then some.

Thankfully, professional treatment does exist for a number of different addictions, ranging from addictions to substances to behavioral addictions.

What is Relapse?

Relapse occurs when an individual has stopped his or her substance abuse with the intent of staying sober but goes back to using instead. Relapse is very common amongst individuals who grapple with the ups and downs of addiction, and even the most successful people in recovery can experience a relapse at any point. According to American Addiction Centers, relapse rates range between 40%-60%. That means that roughly half of those who establish sobriety and who live in recovery will relapse at some point.

There are three different stages of relapse: emotional relapse, mental relapse, and physical relapse. They are described below:

Emotional Relapse

When emotional relapse is occurring, an individual is likely not actively thinking about using again but is starting to experience emotions that could serve as a trigger to use in the future. Some of the most common symptoms of an emotional relapse include the following:

  • Defensiveness
  • Not attending 12-Step meetings
  • Isolating oneself
  • Mood swings
  • Anger
  • Anxiety
  • Bad sleeping and eating habits (i.e., poor self-care)

Mental Relapse

Someone who is experiencing emotional relapse is struggling with wanting to stay sober and wanting to use again. At times, the individual might not want to use but struggles with the desire to do so. In other words, during this phase, using again is being thought about. Some symptoms include:

  • Thoughts about relapse
  • Deceitful behavior
  • Fantasizing about using
  • Connecting with individuals one used to use with
  • Making plans for relapse

Physical Relapse

Physical relapse is simple. Once the thoughts about using again begin, and prevention techniques are not being utilized or applied, then the act of actually using is right around the corner. At this time, there are no symptoms of physical relapse outside of obtaining and using one’s substance of choice.

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How Can Long-Term Treatment Help?

Some people relapse one time, while others relapse chronically. For those who are constantly relapsing, long-term treatment at a professional addiction center can help stop this dangerous, cyclical behavior. The following five benefits of long-term treatment can help those who chronically relapse to achieve recovery:

Address Underlying Issues:

One of the primary reasons that individuals relapse on a continuous basis is because they are not treating the entire problem. A long-term treatment program can provide individuals will access to several different therapeutic services that can help address hidden and obvious underlying issues pertaining to the continuation of the addiction. These services include one-on-one attention with a therapist through individual therapy, community support through group therapy, and a chance to mend familial problems through family therapy.

Develop Coping Skills:

In order to prevent relapse and continue on a path towards recovery, individuals must possess a strong inventory of coping skills. Relying on skills, such as meditating or reaching out for support during a trying time, can help prevent relapse from occurring. When coping skills have not been developed, it is almost impossible for individuals to abstain from use when the pressure is on. However, long-term treatment programs place a strong focus on helping all clients obtain coping skills to keep them sober.

Instill Accountability:

It is not uncommon for someone who has struggled with addiction to not have a strong understanding or connection to accountability. In most cases, those who have been using have not been held accountable for their actions enough or ignored outside attempts at taking accountability. However, long-term treatment will help an individual understand accountability, determine why it is imperative to include in his or her life, and help show him or her how to go forward an apply accountability to their lives. Relapse can be prevented through accountability, as an individual can learn to hold him or herself accountable for actions that might be related to the beginning stages of relapse.

Provide Structure:

Structure is extremely important for anyone who is getting treatment, but even more so for someone who continuously relapses. Thankfully, long-term treatment offers individuals the time needed to develop a structured life for themselves and learn how to live it while under the care of professionals. Those who are addicted to drugs and/or alcohol often live by the seat of their pants in many respects, leading to constant chaos and the desire to use even more. However, when a structure is introduced and applied, this chaos can settle and an individual’s focus can be placed on a successful recovery.

Develop a Network of Support:

Addiction is often a very isolating disease, meaning that those who are using are more likely to keep to themselves to the point where socialization rarely occurs. However, in order to stay in recovery and prevent relapse, developing a network of support can help do the trick.

When positive relationships are formed with trust and compassion, individuals in recovery can have a number of different shoulders to lean on during challenging times in their recovery, and vice versa. Getting sober and staying sober, while mainly due to personal effort and work, is much easier when there are other people who can understand and offer support. At long-term treatment, individuals will be connected to people who have similar challenges as they do and encouraged to work together to help promote healing. These relationships can last far past time spent in treatment.

Getting Help

Fortunately, if you are addicted to one or more substances, you can get help to stop. Chronically relapsing can cause life to be extremely unpredictable and messy, making every day seems more complicated than the last. However, long-term treatment can help provide you with the time and space you need to help prevent relapse in the future.

If you or someone you love is addicted to drugs and/or alcohol, do not waste any more time. Reach out to us right now. We can help you overcome your struggles with sobriety and help you live a long, healthy life of recovery.