As challenging as initially overcoming addiction is, the battle of remaining sober and avoiding relapse after overcoming addiction can be even harder. Recovering individuals must always be proactive about their sobriety—otherwise, relapsing is imminent. In fact, relapsing is so common, that many people end up doing it over and over again. When this happens, individuals suffer from chronic relapsing disease and require treatment specifically for chronic relapsers.
What is Chronic Relapsing Disease?
Chronic relapsing disease is a disorder that causes an individual to continuously relapse after addiction treatment. Most people that continuously relapse after addiction treatment do so after attending a rehab program that is less than 90 days long. This is because people with severe addictions usually need at least 90 days of treatment for it to have a proper effect on them.
If a person suffers from a chronic relapsing disease, it becomes vital to attend rehab for chronic relapse. This allows the lessons learned in rehab to be more fully absorbed, which reduces the chances of the person relapsing.
Chronic Relapse Statistics
The overall relapse rate for substance use disorders is between 40% to 60%. In addition, 60% of people who remain sober for 2 years after treatment continue to enjoy lifelong recovery. Whether or not a person may require rehab for chronic relapsers depends on many things, including which substance they abused. For example, people addicted to alcohol relapse during the first year at a rate of about 1 out of 3. The odds of relapsing go down over time, with only 21.4% of alcoholics relapsing after 2 years of recovery, and 9.6% after 3 to 5 years.
Because addiction falls under the classification of a disease, it can help to think of it as compared to other illnesses with high relapse rates. For example, 50% to 70% of people with hypertension and asthma relapse as part of their diseases. Seeking appropriate treatment for any medical or psychological type of illness helps keep a person in better health and less likely to relapse.
Common reasons that contribute to a person relapsing after treatment include dealing with mental health issues such as depression or anxiety. To add, if they have suffered trauma in the past or it occurs after treatment, this can also factor into relapsing. Because about half of all people with an addiction also have a mental illness, seeking mental health treatment can help them avoid relapse. It’s important to remember relapsing does not mean that treatment has failed but rather more treatment is necessary.
Why Do People Relapse?
Rehab for chronic relapsers can be avoided by understanding the reasons people end up relapsing and how to combat them. Multiple reasons can cause a person to relapse back into abusing drugs or alcohol. Common ones include:
Trying To Detox Without Professional Help
People often think they can just quit using drugs or alcohol by sheer willpower and not need help from experts in the field of addiction. The detoxification process should not be attempted alone due to the dangerous nature of some of the withdrawal symptoms. In fact, many people trying to detox on their own give up quickly and return to using substances.
Not Receiving Formal Addiction Treatment
Those who make it through detox but do not seek professional help to stay in recovery often quickly relapse. Fortunately, residential, outpatient, and aftercare programs identify the source of a person’s addiction. Those who engage in these programs can stay focused on recovery, thus proving less likely to relapse.
Ignoring Warning Signs
Part of addiction treatment includes learning the warning signs of a possible relapse. Individual and group therapy, among other treatment modalities, teaches people to know when the risk of relapse has become a possibility. Recovery programs teach things like using healthy coping skills, learning to de-stress, and setting and achieving positive goals. All of these abilities set a person up to avoid relapse.
Neglecting Mental Health Concerns
About half of all people who have an addiction to drugs or alcohol also experience at least one diagnosable mental illness. This makes it paramount that they receive treatment for their mental health alongside addiction treatment. Without it, many mental health symptoms still occur, which makes it tempting to drink or use drugs to self-medicate.
Warning Signs of Chronic Relapsing Disease
Warning signs that a person may start suffering from chronic relapsing disease can occur. With this in mind, it is important for the individual and their loved ones to be on the lookout for them. Some of these warning signs include:
Lack of Preparation to Return Back to The Real World After Treatment
A sign that a person is on the road to chronically relapsing is they leave rehab without taking the time to plan for their next steps. That’s why aftercare planning is so important at the end of a rehab program.
If the rehab center that you’re attending addiction treatment at offers aftercare treatment and planning, take advantage of it. That way, prior to leaving rehab, you have a concrete plan about what measures you plan on taking once you leave. These plans can ensure that you stay on the right path.
Failing to Ask Yourself the Right Questions
Ask yourself questions in order to make sure you are on the right path to avoid needing rehab for chronic relapsers:
- Do you plan on attending 12-Step programs and/or therapy after rehab?
- How often do you plan on attending such aftercare treatment programs?
- What are some hobbies and coping mechanisms that you plan on utilizing in the real world to help you abstain from using substances?
- How are you going to make sure that you stay away from negative influences once you get back in the real world?
- Is your home environment suitable for a person who is sober to live in?
Not Knowing Your Triggers or Coping Mechanisms
Something all rehab patients need to understand is what their individual triggers for addiction are. Next, they should know the coping mechanisms that best help them manage these triggers.
Lack of Direction in Life
A general lack of direction in life is also a clear sign someone who is just leaving rehab may develop chronic relapsing disease. This is because a person who has no post-treatment goals or direction in life will likely fall back into old addiction habits.
Lack of a Desire to Remain Sober
To achieve sobriety, a person has to really want it. Regardless of their time in rehab, if he or she doesn’t want to get sober, then they will almost always relapse. If a person doesn’t desire sobriety and was forced to attend rehab, they will likely develop chronic relapsing disease.
Not Completing One’s Addiction Treatment Program
To get the most out of an addiction treatment program, a person must complete it. Thus, anyone who doesn’t even complete the addiction treatment program that he or she is in heightens the chances that he or she will relapse.
Socializing With People Who Abuse Substances Post-Treatment
Once someone completes their addiction treatment program, they’ll need to make lifestyle changes to maintain sobriety. This includes cutting out people in your life who use substances. It’s not encouraged to socialize with substance users while you’re new to sobriety. To add, this can aid in the development of chronic relapsing disease.
Poor Mental Health
Oftentimes, the reason someone starts to abuse substances is to cope with mental disorders. Not seeking continuous treatment for poor mental health can cause a person to begin a cycle of chronic relapsing.
To treat your mental health after attending addiction treatment, utilize your coping mechanisms and practice self-care. You can also continue to attend individual or group therapy and take any needed medications.
Stages of Chronic Relapsing Disease
Drug and alcohol relapse occurs in three stages—emotional relapse, mental relapse, and physical relapse. Ignoring any of these stages can lead to chronic relapsing disease.
The emotional relapse stage is the first stage of chronic relapsing disease. In this stage, individuals behave in ways that cause them to be more susceptible to relapse. Many people in the emotional relapse stage don’t realize that they’re in it. Therefore, it’s important to know the signs of emotional relapse.
Signs of emotional relapse include:
- Isolating oneself
- Bottling up emotions
- Not attending or participating in support group meetings
- Poor eating and sleeping habits
- Poor self-care
The second stage of relapse is mental relapse. Mental relapse occurs when an individual actively thinks about and desires to use substances again.
Signs of mental relapse include:
- Planning for relapse
- Drug and alcohol cravings
- Looking for opportunities to relapse
- Glamorizing times of past drug use
- Minimizing negative effects of past drug use
- Thinking fondly about past places or people you once used substances with
Physical relapse is the third and final stage of relapse. In this stage, people officially relapse and use substances again. Many people try to hide their physical relapse due to embarrassment.
Symptoms of Chronic Relapsing Disease
Whether it’s drug or alcohol relapse, once a person develops the habit of chronically relapsing from a substance, that person will likely exhibit certain symptoms. Common symptoms of chronic relapsing disease include:
- Emotional issues
- Low energy
- Associating sobriety with struggling
- Poor sleeping and eating habits
- Craving substances
- Use of substances again
- Romanticizing drug use
- Isolating oneself more
- Not attending support groups
- Doubting the effectiveness of recovery
- No longer participating in certain hobbies
- Refusing to face underlying issues behind addiction
- Believing that you can use substances again without triggering addiction
- Knowing an excessive amount of addiction treatment knowledge but unable to apply it
Dangers of Chronic Relapsing Disease
Relapsing after being sober for a while can shock the body’s system. As a result, relapsing can be physically dangerous. This is because people who haven’t used substances for a while have lower tolerances for them than before. Therefore, it now takes smaller amounts of substances to take effect in a person, sometimes leading to overdose and even death.
How to Prevent Chronic Relapsing Disease
To prevent the development of chronic relapsing disease, you should first learn about your triggers. Once you understand your triggers, you can develop individual coping mechanisms to help you manage them. In fact, after coming up with your coping mechanisms, you should take it a step further and create a full-fledged chronic relapse prevention plan.
A chronic relapse prevention plan is an individualized, laid-out series of steps and measures someone should take to help them remain sober. There are 5 steps to completing a chronic relapse prevention plan.
- Reflect on your past substance use and on what triggered it.
- List your triggers and write out plans for how to deal with them.
- Come up with a detailed step-by-step plan that says what to do if you relapse.
- Create an emergency contact list.
- Create goals for yourself.
Rehab for Chronic Relapser Treatment
If you suffer from chronic relapsing disease, you should attend medical detox. After that, you should get treatment from a facility that provides services for chronic relapsers. These types of programs specialize in inpatient, long-term treatment, which typically lasts longer than 90 days.
Once detox and rehab are over, it’s important to make a chronic relapse prevention plan and attend aftercare treatment. Some people may even need the added step of living in a transitional sober living home in-between completing addiction treatment and returning home.
Once you’re back home after addiction treatment, make sure to incorporate positive lifestyle changes and actively practice your coping mechanisms. Doing so is vital to maintaining sober long-term.
Rehab for Chronic Relapser in Palm Springs
At Phoenix Rising Recovery in Palm Springs, we understand some people need longer forms of addiction treatment to achieve sobriety. That’s why we offer 90-day treatment programs that set us apart as 1 of the top chronic relapse treatment centers. We provide rehab that helps chronic relapsers learn how to achieve permanent sobriety. To learn more about Phoenix Rising Recovery and the different rehab programs that we offer, contact us today.