Substance abuse is a chronic disease. Those who struggle with substance abuse, whether to drugs, alcohol, or certain behaviors, find that managing addiction and maintaining sobriety requires a long-term commitment. While treatment can be incredibly effective, 40-60% of people still experience relapses. Why do these people relapse — even with the healthy coping skills and strategies they’re taught in residential treatment? There are many factors that lead to substance abuse and many more that can be the causes of relapse.
Let the experts at Ascend Healthcare teach you a little bit about the struggles behind substance abuse and how you can support those that need it.
Why Do So Many People Relapse?
For those with chronic physical conditions, like diabetes or asthma, relapse is common even when their condition is managed well. Substance abuse and other mental health disorders must be considered in a similar way. Your mind is an organ, just like the heart and lungs, and it too, can malfunction just like any other body part.
Relapse doesn’t mean that treatment was unsuccessful or that someone with a drug or alcohol addiction will not be able to stay in recovery in the future. Similar to how medications can become less effective for physical conditions and need to be changed, a relapse for substance abuse is a sign that indicates the need for additional (maybe alternative) treatment plans.
The Most Common Causes of Relapse
The physical changes that cause people to form dependencies on certain substances are difficult to reverse, sometimes even impossible. Additionally, the original triggers for the substance abuse can still be challenging for these individuals to face and overcome. Even more relevant, are the constant changes and transformations in day to day life that can introduce new triggers a person has never had to cope with before. Knowing some of the common causes of relapse can help avoid it, but these are not 100% effective.
- Enabling Environments – Returning to environments where others are using drugs or alcohol.
- Unsupportive Environments – Living in an environment that dismisses their concerns and fears.
- Isolation – Spending time alone without support or feeling alienated from family, friends, and peers.
- Stress – A trigger that causes many to seek outside forces to help them cope instead of addressing the issue head on.
- Mental Health Issues – Some individuals return to substance abuse to relieve feelings of anxiety or depression.
- Chronic Pain – Prescription medications that relieve pain, such as opioids, can be addictive.
Every time someone returns to abusing drugs or alcohol, it provides more information into why people relapse and helps behavioral health professionals address their concerns in a new light. With more tools to deal with their struggles, people become less and less likely to relapse.
Treatment at Ascend Healthcare
While substance abuse treatment at Ascend is a really powerful program, even the best treatment plans can’t anticipate everything that may affect your child after they leave our residential facility. We strive to provide the support they need with helpful referrals to lower levels of care and comprehensive aftercare plans, but parents must be involved as well.
Through our family therapy sessions, you learn about why people relapse as well as how to spot relapse warning signs. Using these tools can help you get your child in touch with behavioral health professionals that can bolster their mental health and prevent a more serious setback to their progress.
Get in Touch
If you have any questions about how we work to minimize relapses among our clients, or you’re concerned about a relapse your child is having right now, reach out to get in touch with a clinician at 310.388.3713.