Breaking the Chronic Relapse Cycle

Getting clean off of drugs, alcohol, or giving up any other process addiction, can be one of the hardest decisions an addict will make in his or her lifetime, but also one of the best. Just ask anyone in recovery. That being said, the relapse rates in recovery are very high, and many addicts can and often do go out by drinking, using, or engaging in other bottom line behaviors after getting clean. And while many relapsers only go out once before sobering up and realizing how important it is to diligently work a recovery program, thus remaining clean, there are also plenty out there who tend to chronically relapse.

Signs that someone is a Chronic Relapser:

  • They have multiple failed attempts at sobriety
  • They’re familiar with things like the twelve steps (of NA, AA, SLAA, etc.), the tools typically accessed to maintain sobriety, or they’ve been through treatment programs. Even with all of this knowledge, experience, and perhaps some long-term clean time, however, they still go out and drink, use, or engage in other bottom line behaviors repeatedly.
  • They’re often plagued with chronic hopelessness
  • They have exaggerated personality traits and can be excessively charming, manipulative, hyper-intelligent, passionate, have borderline personality disorder, high levels of anxiety, narcissistic personality disorder, etc.

* Please note that the above instances alone don’t dictate who does or does not typically maintain his or her sobriety. These are just some common traits or patterns to be aware of.

What are some possible causes for chronic relapse?

  • Not changing one’s social environment after getting clean
  • Major life events or changes, like marriage, divorce, breakups, stress, job loss, or death of a loved one
  • Outside psychiatric or psychological issues that don’t get addressed in treatment
  • Insufficient time in treatment
  • Not taking one’s addiction or recovery seriously after getting clean, thus not engaging in a sobriety maintenance program or utilizing available resources, like regular twelve step meetings, psychiatric care, checking in with a sponsor, drug and alcohol counseling, support groups, or all of the above.

How to Break the Relapse Cycle:

There are many ways to break the relapse cycle. Unfortunately, it’s not always easy for folks who are prone to relapses to do so. That being said, with dedication and diligence, it can be done. By admitting defeat and having full conviction that one is utterly powerless over his or her disease, the process of recovery can truly begin. Often times, chronic relapsers are not fully convinced that they really have no control over their addiction, and unless they’re ready to admit complete defeat, they may continue to have a difficult time staying sober. Once a deep awareness of powerlessness begins, however, then by working a steady recovery program, sobriety can be maintained. Here are some methods that we’ve found to be enormously beneficial–

  • Twelve step meetings have a lot of success for those who work a solid program
  • Drug and alcohol counseling, group therapy, etc.
  • Support for families of addicts, specifically families who have dysfunctional dynamics
  • Maintaining regular contact with other addicts in recovery (connection is very powerful)
  • Not isolating
  • Consistency when it comes to any sobriety maintenance program
  • Tailored drug and alcohol treatment plans from counselors or therapists, unique to individuals prone to relapse and designed to address very specific triggers
  • Attending a rehab for certain addictions
  • Removing environmental triggers (i.e., cutting ties drinking and using buddies, staying away from bars, nightclubs, or other trigger-worthy establishments, etc.)

While relapse statistics are high in the recovery community, there is hope if and when you’re willing to put in the work to stay clean. Another important thing to remember is that you’re not alone. Many people in recovery have been through the cycle of chronic relapse, only to discover that by recognizing their powerlessness over addiction, taking their recovery seriously, working a solid recovery program, and staying connected to other sober addicts, that they, too, can stay clean.

 Kembali Drug and Alcohol Recovery Center can help:

If you or someone you love is having a difficult time staying clean, Kembali Recovery Center is just a phone call or email away, and our next intake is right around the corner. Contact us today to learn more about four week program.

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