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Chronic Relapse

The World Health Organization classifies addiction as a chronic illness. This means that there is no permanent cure for addiction.

Chronic relapse is when someone attends drug or alcohol addiction rehabilitation multiple times and falls back into substance use in between.

You can prevent chronic relapse with effective long-term treatment. At Cirque Lodge, we provide a combination of different therapies that focus on treating the client as a whole. Individualized treatment programs that treat all the client’s needs offer the best chance of avoiding relapse.

We help you understand behaviors that cause your addiction and support you as you build healthy and resilient new habits. We help you reconnect with your mind, body, and spirit and rediscover your love of life without addiction.

Importantly, our care continues after you have left our center. We connect you with support groups you can attend after your stay with us and provide you with personalized plans and resources for coping with challenges as you continue on your recovery journey. Continuing to attend regular support group meetings and other networks is a vital part of maintaining sobriety.

Addiction Is a Chronic Illness

Addiction Is a Chronic Illness

Addiction is a chronic illness like diabetes, high blood pressure, or asthma.

When you develop a drug addiction, it causes chemical changes in your brain that make you feel compelled to use drugs or alcohol. Even after residential treatment and periods of sober living, these chemical changes can remain.

While treatment can result in long periods of good health, certain situations and events can retrigger the urge to use substances to cope. And for some people, this results in relapse. It does not mean that you have to start again from square one. Relapse and chronic relapse are nothing to be ashamed of and it does not represent failure – it just means that you need some more help.

Why Does Relapse Happen?

Why Does Relapse Happen?

Substance use disorder causes changes in the brain that cause you to compulsively seek or use a substance even when it has harmful consequences.

When you take drugs or alcohol, it causes you to experience positive feelings, happiness, or euphoria. Your brain connects the substance with these positive feelings and compels you to take the substance again to receive the same ‘reward.’ This compulsion can be very intense.

The brain also connects cues in your environment with this reward. These cues tend to be things associated with the substance or your use of it. It could be a place you often get high, a friend you take drugs with, or a feeling that makes you want to escape. When you see these cues, it triggers the same compulsion to use the substance.

These triggers can remain in the brain despite intensive rehabilitation treatment. Relapse often occurs when you experience a trigger, and it restarts your desire to take drugs or alcohol. This can happen even after long periods of sober living.

Your brain will recover from the chemical changes with time, and you can develop skills to deal with triggers, urges, and cravings and stay sober. This is one of the main aims of effective alcohol and drug rehab.


What Causes Chronic Relapse?

What Causes Chronic Relapse?

There are many different causes of chronic relapse. These include:

  • Being around drugs or alcohol
  • Experiencing a trigger such as a place, a person, or an emotion
  • Being ill-equipped to cope with triggers and cravings
  • Underlying, untreated mental health conditions
  • Not being able to deal with difficult emotions
  • Not receiving or having access to enough support
Treating Chronic Relapse

Treating Chronic Relapse

Like all substance abuse and addiction treatment, effective chronic relapse treatment is tailored to the specific circumstances of each individual.

In some cases, a relapse may be minor and happen after an extended stay at a residential treatment center. In this instance, treatment may only involve attending extra support group meetings or having sessions with a counselor to overcome the relapse.

In other cases, relapse can be more severe and require more significant intervention. You may need to go back to a treatment center, go through detox, and take part in a rehabilitation program.

As with the initial treatment experience, this will involve a combination of cognitive-behavioral therapy, group therapies, experiential therapy, and support groups.

However, returning to a rehab center is not a step back to the beginning. You can build on skills you have previously developed, learn from the causes of your relapse, and take steps to prevent it in the future. You will finish the treatment program better equipped to continue maintaining sobriety.

It is important not to hide your relapse from others, as this can prevent you from receiving support and treatment. While you might go through this process multiple times, you should not consider relapsing to be a failure. It is an opportunity for further self-development and healing that can help you on your path of recovery.

Preventing Chronic Relapse

Preventing Chronic Relapse

The best prevention for relapse is through effective long-term addiction treatment programs that treat the whole person.

Detoxing from a substance is not an effective form of treatment by itself and will almost always result in you returning to substance abuse at some point.

Effective addiction treatment needs to identify and change the thoughts, feelings, and behaviors that cause you to take a substance.

Effective treatment results in minimal relapses and the best chance of lifelong recovery. According to the National Institute of Drugs, effective treatment involves several things:

  • Personalized treatment plans to suit the specific needs and circumstances of each individual
  • Dual diagnosis and treatment of co-occurring disorders, such as anxiety and depression, which may contribute to the addiction
  • Staying in treatment for at least 90 days
  • Continually assessing and adapting a treatment plan to reflect the changing needs of the individual

An essential part of effective treatment is developing skills to avoid or manage the triggers that lead to substance use. One of the main tools for this is cognitive-behavioral therapy.

Therapy sessions help you to identify your triggers and develop skills for avoiding or coping with them. Healthy stress management, mindfulness, positive distractions, and support groups can all help you manage triggers.

Effective continuing care after you have left a rehab center is key to avoiding relapses. Attending weekly support group meetings like 12-Step Peer Support provides you with the support network you need to cope with any challenges or difficult times ahead. We gain great strength and inspiration from sharing our recovery experience and helping one another.

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Cirque Lodge is a recovery retreat providing cognitive and experiential therapies, in the pristine natural beauty of Utah’s Rocky Mountains.

Cirque Lodge is considered among our colleagues, as one of, if not the premium drug and alcohol rehab facility in the country.
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