Chronic Addiction Relapse: Common Causes, and the Necessity of Long-Term Treatment

The common causes of addiction relapse can take their toll on your life, sometimes even without you realizing it. But by using residential treatment as a gateway to recovery, you can learn how to better cope and adapt to these triggers. The end result is a long-term solution for a healthy future, where you have control over your addiction and, in turn, your life.

During addiction recovery, the pull toward substance abuse is strong, and can be difficult to resist. Things that used to be menial tasks turn into huge obstacles, and it can seem like the only relief from these stresses lies in drugs and alcohol. You realize that your addiction masked many problems, some more deeply rooted than others, which can be overwhelming when they boil to the surface simultaneously.

By failing to address these problems directly and comprehensively, the chances of experiencing chronic relapse are much higher. It can be difficult to give yourself the time to focus on the root causes of your addiction when you’re left to do so on your own, caught up in the bustle of daily life. With no time to stop and reflect, you end up falling into the same patterns and routines, failing to gain a deeper knowledge of yourself. Seeking long-term, holistic treatment in a residential setting can be the key to escaping these patterns and creating newer, healthier routines to take their place.

The Common Causes of Addiction Relapse

There are many common causes of addiction relapse. Knowing what they are and how much they can affect the course of your recovery is vital. With this understanding, you’ll be able to see the importance of treatment more clearly and take the necessary steps toward recovery.

  • Stress is a big contributor to relapse and addiction in general. It’s an inflammatory emotion that can trigger underlying problems and emotions with no warning. Unfortunately, many people have jobs and lifestyles where stress is inevitable, making relapse a huge risk. From a demanding job to a family to care for, stress is something that we have to deal with at some point. If you don’t have the right treatment and supports in place, it could send you back to using.
  • People and situations connected to substance use are other common causes of relapse. That’s not to say that you can never see these people or return to these places again, but during recovery, you are particularly vulnerable to the temptation of using. It’s a crucial point in your journey, and in order to keep to the path of recovery, you need to learn the skills and coping mechanisms necessary to control your emotions when you are most tempted to use.
  • Celebrations can be slippery slopes when you’re in recovery. While you might label negative situations as those that cause relapse, positive ones can sometimes be triggers, too. They create an aura of safety that can make you feel like it’s okay to let loose “just for one night.” But treating yourself to one quick drink can easily pave the way to a full-blown relapse. You may not even realize what’s happening until it’s too late. You don’t have to avoid parties forever, but you need to learn the coping tools needed to handle them properly.

It’s important to avoid relapse if possible, but it’s important too to treat yourself with kindness and forgiveness, particularly if you do stumble along the way. While relapse might seem like a failure, it’s not—it’s just a sign that you’re still learning to effectively navigate your particular journey to recovery. You need to give yourself time to learn and grow before you throw yourself back into the world. The best place to do this is in a residential treatment setting, which can grant you temporary reprieve from the stresses and triggers of everyday life.

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Using Residential Treatment as a Gateway to Recovery

Although the many causes of relapse can be frightening, there is one thing to take comfort in: there is a solution to each. When you enter treatment, you will be given the tools and pathways to learn how to control and manage all of the triggers of relapse. This means you’ll be prepared to cope with them once you return to the world.

  • Coping with stress can be accomplished using many tools, one of which is mindfulness meditation. It has been shown to decrease levels of the stress hormone cortisol, and also boosts serotonin, as referred to as the “happy” neurotransmitter. Ultimately, it’s a means of counteracting your stress with a positive state of mind, which is invaluable when you’re experiencing high levels of stress during recovery.
  • Although certain people and situations can induce relapse, this works both ways—there are healthy situations and relationships that can help you overcome your addiction. For this reason, establishing support networks is a key part of addiction recovery. These can range from professional supports that can provide you with advice to peer support networks that you can learn from and grow with. The bottom line is that social contact with those that understand your struggle is crucial and will help you feel less isolated during the hard times.
  • Managing your triggers is difficult, especially when you’re at a celebration or environment where they can pop-up on the fly. But residential treatment will help you understand the triggers present in these situations and the best ways to manage them in-the-moment. Whether this means mindfulness meditation or removing yourself when things start to escalate, you’ll be much more comfortable in the presence of your triggers when you know how to cope with them.

All of the above tools are invaluable and will help you move through life more comfortably. But the most important part of treatment, and the part that you can only receive through a long-term plan, is understanding the root causes of your addiction. Whether this is an underlying anxiety disorder that has morphed into substance abuse or past trauma that you can only cope with through using, you need to address the problems in the right setting.

When it comes to long-term chronic relapse, the problems are often deep-rooted, meaning long-term inpatient care is necessary. These aren’t problems that can simply be fixed within a few weeks—they need to be managed over a longer period of time. And because so many chronic relapsers have dual diagnoses of substance abuse disorders and other mental health issues, it’s important to give yourself the time necessary to fully address your problems.

A Long-Term Solution for a Healthy Future

It might seem difficult, and it can be at times, but the rewards of long-term treatment can last a lifetime. By addressing your chronic relapse in a comprehensive residential setting, you will gain the experience and tools needed to walk the path to a healthy future. You will be able to mine your relapses for learning opportunities and gain a better grasp of the driving forces behind your addiction. It’s a lifelong process, but one that can be used to adapt and learn, leading to a more positive future.

Bridges to Recovery offers comprehensive residential treatment for people struggling with mental health disorders as well as co-occurring substance abuse and eating disorders. Contact us to learn more about our renowned Los Angeles and San Diego-based programs and how we can help you or your loved one start on the path to lasting wellness.