What is chronic relapse?

Chronic relapse is a repeating cycle of falling back into using drugs or alcohol after going through addiction treatment multiple times.

Typically, a chronic relapser is well educated about addiction and tends to be familiar with all the recovery tools, yet they cannot remain clean or sober for long.

According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, 40-60% of people in recovery will relapse.

Chronic relapse can occur for many reasons; essentially, it happens when a recovering individual thinks about the drug and how it made them feel. The thoughts turn into cravings, which, if not controlled, result in the person using again.

Some common triggers include:

  • Lack of continued treatment after completing a recovery program

  • Using an addiction treatment model not specifically tailored to the individual

  • Lack of mental health treatment for co-occurring disorders

  • Unstable work and home environments

  • Failure to follow aftercare procedures after leaving a treatment facility

Recent research has also found that highly stressful situations and chronic stress increase addiction vulnerability and could cause chronic relapsing.

In most cases, a relapse occurs within 90 days of becoming sober, since this is the period when the person's cravings are high.

And while relapse is common during early recovery, relapsing later in recovery is more dangerous because tolerance to drugs has decreased, which makes the user susceptible to overdose.

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