Anyone in recovery seeks to stay healthy for the rest of their lives. Unfortunately, the recovery journey is not always straightforward. Sometimes, individuals relapse, meaning they will fall back into old habits and abuse alcohol and drugs. The severity of this relapse may mean that someone needs to seek treatment once again. 

In some cases, a person can become stuck in a cycle of relapse and recovery. These instances — known as chronic relapse — can be horrible for suffering individuals, as they can alternate wildly between hope and falling back into old habits. Breaking this chronic relapse cycle can be difficult, but it is also possible. 

What Is the Definition of Chronic Relapse?

Defining the term “chronic relapse” can be difficult, given that there is no formal definition and none that government officials or academic experts have agreed to. The one thing that seems clear is that addiction and chronic relapse often go hand in hand. For example, experts have defined alcohol use disorder as a “chronic relapsing brain disease” in which the individual loses control over their ability to regulate alcohol use. 

In this instance, chronic relapse means that a person may recover from their substance use disorder, only to “fall off the wagon” and begin abusing the substance in question again. This may occur even though an individual has undergone repeated rounds of treatment and understands the negative consequences of drinking. 

Treatment for substance use disorders can help a person break the cycle of addiction. Indeed, a robust treatment plan — combined with post-treatment support — can stop the cycle of addiction. Unfortunately, even the best treatment plan may not stop a person from repeated, chronic relapses. In that case, an individual may benefit from personalized, custom care that can help them break the cycle of addiction. 

What Makes Someone More Likely to Suffer From Chronic Relapse?

Sometimes, an individual can undergo an addiction, recover, and never look back. Other times, a person can repeatedly begin and end a seemingly never-ending cycle of alcohol use disorder. Why does this occur for some people but not others? 

Studies have shown that individuals suffering from chronic relapse are likely dealing with a few additional factors. This includes:

  • Stress: Stressful life events can alter how someone approaches their recovery and put someone back into old patterns of substance use. Stress can be particularly problematic if someone has previously managed stressful life events by turning to substances. An appropriate treatment plan teaches someone how to address stressful life challenges more healthily. 
  • Mental health challenges: Decades of research have substantiated the connection between mental health and substance abuse. To that end, any treatment plan must also address mental health issues to be truly impactful. 
  • Drug-related cues: A genuine challenge for individuals can be returning to physical spaces where they had previously used illicit substances. This can be even more problematic if a person is surrounded by stimuli directly related to their old drug use, including needles or bottles. Since these cues have been historically associated with drug abuse, someone may see these items and be tempted to start using again. 
  • Temptations or boredom: Life after treatment can be difficult to manage. In many cases, an individual may simply be bored, resulting in them returning to old habits.
  • Lack of support: Substance use disorder can be incredibly difficult to overcome, even in the best circumstances. It requires support from friends and family to truly manage. If someone does not have a supportive network, they are more likely to relapse. As such, any treatment plan must address social choices and ensure that a person does not fall back into old habits of spending time with individuals who cause them to use substances.

How Can Chronic Relapse Be Treated?

While biological factors are at play, an individual’s mental health and support group can hugely impact the circumstances that lead to chronic relapse. To that end, a person must seek treatment for not only their addiction. Someone must address their entire life and lifestyle to avoid relapse.

At Olympus Recovery, we don’t just focus on the factors that lead to an addiction in the first place. We also focus on how to address life after treatment ends. 

We teach individuals to manage stress, depression, and anxiety positively and proactively without turning to substances. We also offer community residents designed to help individuals build a positive support network to help them overcome their addiction. 

Finally, we offer an alumni & aftercare program. This program is designed to remind individuals that they aren’t alone — even after they leave treatment. Alumni coordinators work with our program graduates to ensure alumni are happy, healthy, and have the necessary resources. We can further connect alumni with treatment resources to ensure they have what they need to continue their recovery. 

Let Olympus Recovery Help You Overcome Chronic Relapse

Chronic relapse can be extremely difficult to overcome, but like everything else addiction-related, it isn’t insurmountable. At Olympus Recovery, we understand the pain that chronic relapse can cause. We have created a series of programs to help you overcome your chronic relapse and start your new life.

Ready for more information? Contact us today by visiting our website or calling us at 866-305-7134.

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