Substance abuse is a slippery slope. Whether one’s drug of choice is alcohol, cocaine, heroin, marijuana, or one of the numerous other mind-altering substances, recreational abuse can very easily and quickly become something uncontrollable, the compulsive need to consume more and more. Also, when an individual becomes physically and mentally dependent on a substance, they must consume that substance at much higher doses to achieve the effects that they did in the beginning, which reflects the increase in their tolerance to the substance.
This is incredibly dangerous because, especially with most drugs, the strength or intensity of a substance can vary as those who sell it on the streets will often try to dilute drugs to increase the amount of the drug they have to sell. As a result, one “strain” of a drug might be weak while another is incredibly strong.
Historically, there has been a stigma against those who struggle with addiction to alcohol and drugs. It was previously thought that addiction meant an individual was abnormal, immoral, and willfully self-centered.
Laws have been put into place that resulted in most people in active addiction receiving punitive treatment for their condition, specifically lengthy prison sentences, rather than more effective means of rehabilitation. While prison forces substance abusers to be abstinent whether they want to be or not, recovery can only happen when they accept the reality of their addiction and choose to receive treatment for their addictions. Those who aren’t ready for recovery will continue to relapse repeatedly.
However, sometimes those in recovery do not want to relapse, but are, for one reason or another, especially susceptible to chronic relapse.
In fact, relapse is an incredibly common and expected part of the recovery process, especially for individuals who are attempting recovery for the first time, and should not deter one from continuing with his or her recovery journey. It’s important for those individuals who are especially susceptible to a relapse or who have a history of frequent relapsing, commonly known as “chronic relapsers,” to know what to do in the event of a relapse and how to reduce the chance of additional relapses.
Addiction Is the Ultimate Disease
It’s essential to understand the nature of addiction so one can understand the processes involved in a relapse. After decades of study and research by experts in the medical and health fields, addiction has been found to be a primary relapsing disease in which individuals have become physically, mentally, and/or emotionally dependent on a substance or behavior. While individuals can become addicted to a variety of behaviors that include overeating, exercising to excess, sexual intercourse, and gambling, arguably the most serious form of addiction is to mind-altering substances like alcohol and drugs.
According to the disease model of addiction, people in active addiction are, in fact, dealing with a severe brain disease. More specifically, the disease model of addiction asserts that there are certain individuals who, due to having an altered brain structure and functioning, are more susceptible to developing addictions to substances or activities once they are exposed to these substances or activities. What’s more, this model considers addiction to be an irreversible affliction from which an individual will never completely recover.
However, abstinence can arrest the disease, rendering it dormant so long as the individual continues to abstain from the addictive substance or behavior. The issue is that abstinence is in direct opposition to the compulsions associated with addiction, making the very earliest stages of recovery in which someone transitions from active addiction to abstinence incredibly difficult.
Understanding the Cycle of Chronic Relapse
Addiction treatment programs and other recovery services exist to help addicted people have greater success in recovery and continuing abstinence from addictive substances and behaviors. In fact, addiction treatment has largely been considered instrumental in recovery, without which individuals are much more likely to succumb to frequently relapsing.
Those who are entering recovery for the first time won’t have the recovery experience to determine whether or not they are susceptible to chronic relapse. Most experts consider relapse to be a natural, expected part of the recovery process; however, it’s important for those in recovery to treat a relapse as a “slip,” acknowledging and admitting the mistake, responding by increasing recovery efforts, and participating in more intensive addiction treatments rather than admitting defeat and abandoning recovery altogether.
For those in recovery who have participated in addiction recovery treatment programs in the past, it’s much easier to determine whether one is a chronic relapser. If the person has participated in several treatment programs in the past and perhaps had several extended periods of sobriety before relapsing and falling back into a period of active addiction, it’s likely the person is a chronic relapser.
In fact, this is what’s referred to revolving door syndrome, which means the individual is stuck in a pattern of attending a rehabilitation program, achieving sobriety, graduating from and leaving rehab, and then promptly relapsing only to begin the process all over again. What’s more, chronic relapsers will often have experienced active addiction for a very long time, several years or possibly even decades; people who have experienced active addiction for such an extended period will find it more challenging to change or correct those behaviors.
Why Chronic Relapse Is Dangerous
Chronic relapse is especially dangerous because individuals who relapse will often try to dose at the same level they did the last time they used, failing to account for the loss of tolerance and putting these chronic relapsers at high risk of overdose. Unfortunately, much of the joy of recovery is experienced once an individual has remained sober over a period, which means that chronic relapsers often fall back into addiction before they can achieve this.
Some of the most common causes of chronic relapse include being ambivalent or indifferent toward one’s recovery, inadequatetreatment for a dual diagnosis, choosing ineffective treatments, insufficient preparation for the return home, and failure to take sufficient care with regard to an individual’srelapse triggers.
Get Help for Substance Addiction Today
If you or someone you love is a chronic relapse in need of treatment for alcohol or drug addiction, Serenity at Summit can help. Our team of recovery specialists has a proven track record of helping those in need find the right recovery programs to fight addiction and return to lives of fulfillment and health. Don’t wait; call us today at 844-326-4514 or connect with us online.