There’s no question that both short and long-term substance abuse can alter our brains. Addiction can become so powerful that even seeking the most basic needs can become a second or third priority behind drug use.
While treatment and recovery can help in the short term, there are physical and psychological factors that might cause someone to repeatedly break sobriety. This is known as chronic relapse.
On Thursday, May 11, 2023, Drew Horowitz, MA, LADC, LPCC, CIP, and Dr. Mark Thomas from the University of Minnesota held a hybrid seminar that focused on the topic of chronic relapse. The purpose of this seminar was to provide education and tools that could help recognize and stop the cycle that causes a treated individual to repeatedly return to substance use.
This piece will highlight some of the key signs Horowitz and Thomas identified in their seminar as well as a few tools that could be used to help someone break away from chronic relapse.
Recognizing The Cycle Of Chronic Relapsing
Contrary to what popular media might lead you to believe, people do not relapse immediately. It should also be noted that relapsing after you have been treated for a substance use disorder is not good but it does not mean that you are a failure. If anything, it’s similar to what happens to a person who is experiencing a physical, chronic illness.
What often causes the risk of relapse to increase is a trigger or lack of support. In the early stages of relapse, this looks like:
Frequenting environments where drugs or alcohol was previously obtained or used
Verbalizing how much you miss using drugs or alcohol
Withdrawing from loved ones who support your sobriety
New or returning physical or mental health problems
If you have a loved one who suffered from addiction to drugs or alcohol and fear they might be approaching relapse, then it’s time for you to step in and help.
Drug Addiction & Chronic Relapse: Breaking The Cycle
While addiction treatment programs can provide coping skills, tools and support groups for a person who is in recovery, it’s up to the individual to use these resources when they return to society. Alone, that can be quite a challenging feat, especially when chronic relapse occurs.
If you begin noticing any of the above signs from someone who previously sought help from an addiction treatment center, then it’s time to step in and help them. Here’s just a few things you can do:
Offer Support: Break their cycle of isolation by making sure they feel well-supported and loved. If the individual feels like they have a somewhat or more stable support system, then they’re more likely to have a sustainable recovery.
Rest & Nourishment: A major key to making sure our mental health is well is through meeting our physical health needs. Rest and proper nourishment can help the body heal and sustain during sobriety. This can significantly reduce relapse rates.
Create A Relapse Prevention Plan: Once this person is in a more stable place, it’s a good idea to create an action plan that will help them avoid chronic relapse. In addition to utilizing the above pieces of advice, you should also have medical professionals available to offer physical and mental health support.
Find New Activities To Stimulate The Mind: It can be challenging to establish a new routine and hobbies at first, but doing so can lead to long-term success in recovery. While it might take some trial and error trying to find the perfect sober activities they enjoy, once those are discovered, it will create a new routine that favors sobriety over relapsing.
If you or a loved one is seeking help for chronic relapse, please do not hesitate to reach out to Drew Horowitz & Associates. Our treatment facilities offer inpatient and outpatient care that caters to the needs and goals of each client. Contact us to learn more now.