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What is Chronic Relapse and How Can a Rehab Center Help?

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Chronic Relapse
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Addiction is a chronic and progressive disease that can continue to worsen without the proper coping mechanisms. While many people who suffer from addiction learn how to manage their symptoms in an addiction treatment program, sometimes they forget that recovery doesn’t end after graduation from a rehab center. This can cause a drug or alcohol relapse.

Relapse occurs when someone is sober from substances for some time and then returns to drug or alcohol use. Usually, this happens because the person stopped doing the things that kept them sober in the first place. For example, if they went to support meetings, attended therapy, and practiced coping mechanisms like mindfulness and yoga, these techniques must be continued on a long-term basis – otherwise, the person risks suffering from a relapse.

Some people struggle with chronic relapse. If you are worried that your loved one is a “chronic relapser,” you must understand what that chronic relapse is, why it happens, and how a rehab program can help them.

What is Chronic Relapse?

Relapse occurs when someone is partially recovered from substance abuse but falls back into their addiction after a period of abstinence. If they struggle from chronic relapse, this means that they have relapsed multiple times. Almost everyone who suffers from chronic relapse requires long-term addiction treatment before they are ready to return to society.

The reason this happens is that relapse is a chronic disease. Without continuous treatment and recovery management, your loved one can continuously fall back into their addiction. Sometimes, relapse happens so often that you and your daily members lose hope that they will be able to maintain long-term sobriety.

Short-term addiction treatment does not work for someone who suffers from chronic relapses. If your loved one enters a 30-day drug treatment program, leaves after 30 days, and immediately gets drunk or high – they may suffer from chronic relapse.

Why Do Some People Relapse Multiple Times?

Unfortunately, completing a drug rehab program does not guarantee recovery for life. Oftentimes, people who attend addiction treatment are forced to return to the same environment where they used to abuse substances. This exposes them to triggers, which can begin the cycle of addiction relapse.

If you or a loved one suffers from chronic relapse, there could be many reasons why. One of the leading causes of relapse is suffering from long-term addiction. People who struggled with a substance use disorder that lasted for years are more likely to relapse than individuals who were only addicted for a short time.

Other reasons your loved one might relapse multiple times include:

  • Experiencing triggers
  • Not participating in aftercare planning
  • Experiencing physical or mental exhaustion
  • Dealing with mental health conditions like depression
  • Suffering from physical pain
  • Being dishonest about their feelings
  • Being jealous of non-sober friends
  • Stress from unemployment

As your loved one continues to struggle with their emotions, they begin to feel like they are hopeless, causing them to seek outside forms of comfort, which they have previously found within substances. As a result, they turn to drugs or alcohol to make themselves feel better. This is why many people struggle with chronic relapse.

Is Going to Rehab for Chronic Relapse Worth It?

Drug and alcohol relapse can be extremely dangerous. When your loved one gets sober, their body adjusts to the fact that they are not taking substances anymore, causing their tolerance for drugs and alcohol to go down tremendously.

When your loved one relapses, they may not take into consideration their tolerance has decreased, so they may take the same amount of drugs or alcohol that they did when they had a tolerance. This could easily lead to a life-threatening overdose.

Because chronic relapse puts your loved one at an increased risk of overdosing, going to rehab after relapse is more than just worth it – it’s necessary.

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Woburn Wellness Addiction Treatment is a leader in the addiction treatment field, with proven success in facilitating long-term recovery. Our team of top clinical & medical experts specializes in treating addiction coupled with mental illness, ensuring that each person receives individualized care. Call us – we’re available 24/day, 7 days/week.

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How Can a Rehab Center Help Me Prevent Relapse?

First, rehab centers use behavioral therapies to teach your loved one how to cope with uncomfortable feelings, emotions, or situations. One of the best relapse prevention tools used in rehab programs is a therapy known as cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT).

CBT looks at the way a person’s thoughts are related to their actions so that they can modify negative thought patterns and trigger positive behaviors instead of negative ones. In other words, CBT can change the way your loved one’s brain works, allowing them to avoid a relapse in times of distress.

Substance abuse treatment centers also use a technique known as relapse prevention planning. These plans are created by your loved one with the help of their therapist. The goal of this planning process is to create a plan of action for your loved one to use to avoid relapsing during triggering moments.

Some of the goals of a relapse prevention plan are:

  • List of triggers personal to your loved one
  • List of coping mechanisms to use in times of need
  • Ways to manage cravings if they occur
  • Continuing programs and support through 12-step meetings and alumni groups
  • Writing a list of consequences should you relapse
  • Attending a support meeting
  • Continued therapy and psychiatry
  • Exercising
  • Journaling
  • Writing a gratitude list

Relapse Prevention Planning at Woburn Wellness

If you or a loved one recently suffered a relapse after a period of sobriety, it’s time to seek help. Relapse can be dangerous, as your body was used to being sober and now you are attempting to use the same amount of substances as you did in the past, placing you at an increased risk of a life-threatening overdose.

Getting help sooner rather than later can help you prevent the consequences of relapse. We can help you create a relapse prevention plan to keep you on track even after you leave our facility. Contact Woburn Wellness today for more information on how to get started.

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Medically Reviewed By

Inessa Maloney, MS, LMHC Clinical Director
Learn about Inessa Maloney

Inessa Maloney, MS, LMHC has been dedicated to the mental health and substance abuse field for a decade, providing her expertise to guarantee quality and accuracy.

  • Specializes in outpatient services with a focus on substance abuse
  • Expertise in reality-based therapy, CBT/DBT, and motivational interviewing
  • Holds a Master’s Degree in Professional Counseling
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