When individuals receive substance abuse or drug and alcohol abuse treatment, it is paramount that they learn, incorporate, and adjust to a new and welcoming sober lifestyle. The time that was once spent engaging in drug and alcohol use needs to be replaced with sober and healthy activities that won’t trigger the person into desiring or engaging in using the substances. Receiving professional treatment can assist recovering individuals in learning how to cope with their emotions, most of all, avoid chronic relapse. 

During and after addiction treatment, several individuals revert and relapse back to their drug and alcohol addiction. An estimated 40%-60% of individuals attending addiction treatment relapse at some point in their life. The substance abuse rate is lower than other relapse rates for chronic conditions like high blood pressure and asthma. 

What is Chronic Relapse?

Chronic relapse is a disease and disorder that causes a person to constantly relapse after receiving addiction treatment. The majority of individuals relapse continuously after completing a rehab program that is less than 90 days long. The reason being individuals with a severe addiction need at least a 90-day program for it to have an appropriate effect on them. 

Chronic relapse occurs when an individual is continuously in and out of addiction treatment and cannot successfully maintain sobriety for a prolonged period. The actual cycle of substance abuse treatment can create additional problems that mainly include a lack of motivation to continue sobriety. While some individuals experience relapse once or twice in their lifetime, other individuals undergo chronic relapse.

How Does Chronic Relapse Start?

Chronic relapse starts or is triggered by a variety of factors. What causes relapse is also because of several factors as well. It’s important to understand that drug and alcohol relapse is extremely common. Numerous mental health addiction specialists believe that when an individual undergoes relapse, it’s considered a normal process of their overall recovery.

Individuals who are incredibly committed to their treatment program can also revert to their old habits. It’s vital to note that relapsing doesn’t insinuate that treatment failed or the individual isn’t strong enough to conquer their addiction. Addiction is extremely powerful, and breaking any habits takes time. It is quite normal to fail many times before you ultimately come to an utter stop. 

Once individuals stay clean for two years from drugs after addiction treatment, it is more likely that they will remain clean. Matter-of-factly, it’s evident that 60% of individuals that stay clean will remain clean after two years. On the other hand, 60% of individuals also relapse during outpatient and inpatient rehab.

What Are Some Chronic Relapse Triggers?

Undiagnosed Mental Health Disorders

The majority of individuals who struggle with any form of addiction have an underlying mental health disorder or some form of trauma that has yet to be addressed. When mental health issues aren’t properly addressed during the addiction recovery process, chronic relapse can become significantly more likely to occur. The issue is that when mental health illnesses arise, the individual might be tempted to engage in substance use to ease their pain. 

Lack of Support

One of the major triggers of chronic relapse is a lack of support. Upon completing addiction treatment, the recovering individuals must have a strong support system that will help them maintain balance. Recovering individuals must be surrounded by a positive support system that can motivate and encourage them to stay sober. The chance for relapse is even greater if an individual goes back to a dysfunctional home or family dynamic after completing treatment.


Boredom and isolation are two of the most threatening feelings an individual can experience during addiction recovery. Isolation makes room for an individual to be alone with their thoughts which then allows certain unexpected cravings to begin to creep in. After completing addiction treatment, recovering individuals need to discover healthy ways that can occupy their time. 

  • Making certain lifestyle changes geared to avoiding chronic relapse
  • Finding new hobbies
  • Making new friends


An individual’s environment has a massive impact on relapse and addiction. Someone who lives in an unhealthy environment spends most of their time surrounded by toxic acquaintances or is easily influenced by peer pressure is much more likely to engage in risky behavior such as alcohol or drug use. Upon leaving treatment, that person’s past environment isn’t likely to change. As a result that, it can lead to chronic relapse if there’s a continual desire to engage in substances after treatment. 

Withdrawal Symptoms

When individuals attempt to quit alcohol or drug addiction on their own, they normally fail due to the withdrawal symptoms. Depending on the substance that was used, withdrawal symptoms can be tremendously uncomfortable and typically triggers individuals to begin using again. So what causes relapse? Withdrawal symptoms. Individuals who struggle with chronic or severe addictions can reduce their relapse risk by undergoing medical detox. 


Several individuals are currently in recovery who continue to experience cravings even though they have experienced sobriety for many years. New drugs continue to become readily available, which makes the temptation to engage in something new even more alluring. Modern drugs are more powerful than previous ones. If an individual cannot resist their cravings, chronic relapse can occur. 

How Do You Treat Chronic Relapse?

Chronic relapse is treated by attending a medical detox after completing a rehab program at one of the many chronic relapse treatment centers. A chronic relapse treatment center specializes in long-term inpatient treatment. When treatment is considered long-term, it is more than 90 days. 

After detox and rehab are completed, it’s essential to create a chronic relapse prevention plan and attend an aftercare program. Some individuals might require extra treatment, such as living at a sober living home in between finishing up their addiction treatment and diving back into the real world. Once you’re back in the real world, it’s recommended that you actively practice your coping mechanisms and make positive lifestyle changes. It will be vital for sobriety. 

How Can Chronic Relapse Be Prevented?

It is nearly impossible to prevent chronic relapse from occurring. However, some steps can be taken to reduce the chance of relapse transpiring. 

  • Continuing with mental health is very important
  • Avoiding trigger places or people
  • Finding a solid support system 
  • Managing mental health 
  • Finding healthy hobbies
  • Staying busy

In the majority of cases, individuals are normally able to sense when a relapse is likely to occur. During this time, it is imperative to reach out to a treatment facility or contact a mental health professional that is equipped to prevent you from engaging in substance use. Your support system should also be made aware of potential relapse signs so that they can intervene. 

Individuals who struggle with alcoholism and attend Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) meetings are taught the following phrase, “Live one day at a time.” The phrase originates from the concept that every person has 24 hours of sobriety. Everyone has a personal obligation to manage their sobriety, one step at a time and one day at a time. When looking at sobriety as a daily task rather than a lifetime goal, it’ll make sobriety seem way more manageable. 

When an individual relapse, attending treatment as soon as possible is of the utmost importance. In cases of individuals experiencing a chronic relapse, the traditional 30-day program might not suffice, but they might experience much more success with a 90-day treatment program or even a sober living arrangement. If you are unsure on which route will be most ideal for you, a treatment professional can recommend a long-term one to prevent relapse. 

What Are Chronic Relapse Warning Signs?

There are numerous warning signs that an individual might begin to be struggling with chronic relapse disorder. The following warning signs are what causes relapse. 

Lack of Preparation to Return Back to the Real World After Treatment 

One of the main signs that an individual is on the road to engaging in chronic relapse is if the person departs from treatment without taking any time to plan what they will be doing next. Aftercare planning is extremely important upon a person completing their rehab program. If the rehab program you are attending offers an aftercare treatment planning program, engage in it. It’ll be thoroughly beneficial to depart from rehab with a solid plan about what you plan on taking on afterward to ensure you stay on the right path. 

Failing to Ask Yourself the Right Questions 

The following questions should all be answered before an individual leaves rehab. If you cannot answer most of these questions before departing from rehab, chronic relapse is even more likely. 

  1. What are some coping mechanisms and hobbies that you plan on utilizing in the real world to abstain from using substances?
  2. How are you going to make sure that you’re able to stay away from any negative influence once you get back in the real world?
  3. Is your home environment suitable for an individual that is sober to reside?
  4. How often do you plan on attending aftercare treatment planning programs?
  5. Do you plan on attending therapy and/or 12 Step Programs after rehab?

Lack of Desire to Remain Sober

To reach long-lasting sobriety, the individual struggling with substance abuse or drug and alcohol abuse must desire it. No matter how much time an individual attends rehab, if they do not want to reach long-lasting recovery, chronic relapse is extremely likely. For rehab to fully work, the individual undergoing addiction treatment must desire attainable sobriety. If the patient didn’t desire full sobriety and was forced to attend rehab, chronic relapse is likely. 

Not Knowing Your Coping Mechanisms or Triggers

An extremely important part of avoiding chronic relapse is being aware of individual addiction triggers and coping mechanisms that are most ideal for helping manage these triggers. If an individual isn’t certain of their coping mechanisms or triggers upon leaving rehab, maintaining sobriety in the real world will only present to be that more challenging. 

Lack of Direction in Life

When an individual acquires a general lack of direction in their life, it is also an evident sign that the individual leaving rehab might develop chronic disease disorder. The reason being is that they don’t have any direction in life or post-treatment goals. These individuals typically resort back to old addiction habits

Poor Mental Health 

An individual will often begin to engage in substance abuse to cope with mental illness. When the person doesn’t maintain their mental illness can be one of the most triggering aspects an individual in recovery can do. A person who battles with severe poor health is normally on their way to chronic relapse. 

An ideal way to treat mental health after completing an addiction treatment program is by practicing self-care and utilizing coping mechanisms. It is highly suggested to continuously attend various support groups and addiction therapy support groups as well. Less isn’t more when it comes to defeating addiction. 

Not Completing the Addiction Treatment Program  

This warning sign might seem obvious, but if the individual wants to receive the fullness of their recovery, the addiction treatment program must be completed. If the individual doesn’t complete the treatment program, the chances of a chronic relapse occurring are ultimately heightened.

Socializing With People Who Engage in Substance Use Post-treatment

Another warning sign that might seem obvious. Once an individual completes their addiction treatment program, it’ll be extremely necessary to make changes to your life to maintain sobriety. This step will include cutting ties with those people in your life who also engage in substance use, and you used to utilize drugs with. Socializing with those you used to engage in substance use with, especially when you’re new to sobriety, is a recipe for chronic relapse. 

Recovery Awaits at Coastal Detox Today

When an individual struggles with a chronic relapse disease and has a known tendency to relapse after completing rehab, it’s even more crucial to attend a long-term inpatient rehab program. By doing this, it allows the lessons that were learned to be deep-rooted in the individual.  Here at Coastal Detox, we want to ensure you have the most ideal chances to have a long-lasting recovery. Contact us to get started.