What to Look for in a Rehab Center for Someone Who Struggles With Chronic Relapse

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Addiction is officially described as a chronic brain disease, so it should come as no surprise that relapse is a common occurrence among individuals in recovery. Individuals who are recovering from an addiction often deal with cravings, triggers, and normal life stressors that cause them to want to pick up a drink or a drug. When the individual is not properly equipped with coping mechanisms and systems of support, they may begin using substances again. This is known as a relapse.

Sometimes, individuals have a difficult time staying sober. When a person gets sober and relapses repeatedly, they are considered a “chronic relapser”. Individuals who suffer from chronic relapses require specific methods of treatment to help rehabilitate them and prevent any future relapses from occurring.

Let’s take a look at what causes chronic relapse and how to find a rehab center for individuals who struggle with chronic relapse.

Understanding Chronic Relapse

Chronic relapse occurs due to a wide variety of variables, including social, emotional, mental, and environmental factors.[1] For example, familial conflict, relationship issues, high rates of substance abuse, and experiencing traumatic events all play a role in an individual’s struggle with staying sober.

While staying sober may become difficult as problems arise in a person’s life, they are better able to remain sober when they believe their issues are solvable. Additionally, individuals must want help recovering, believe they are capable of staying sober, and have access to professional treatment.

Common causes of chronic relapse include:

  • Not continuing treatment after detox
  • Receiving treatment that is not specific to the individual’s needs
  • Unstable home environment or toxic relationships
  • Lack of treatment for co-occurring disorders
  • Unresolved trauma
  • Major life transitions
  • “Transferred addictions” such as gambling, shopping, sex, or video games
  • Not receiving or following an aftercare plan after completing treatment

Relapse is most likely to occur when an individual becomes unable to cope with life circumstances while sober.[2] Without effective coping mechanisms, feelings of distress will build up over time until the individual cannot imagine spending another second sober.

Additionally, mental health conditions such as PTSD, depression, and anxiety may contribute to chronic relapse when left untreated. The right rehab center for chronic relapse will address these underlying issues.

The Signs and Symptoms of Chronic Relapse

While each individual is different, people who suffer from chronic relapse share a few characteristics.

The common signs of chronic relapse include:

  • An individual not being sure whether they want to live a sober life because of a continued desire to use substances
  • The individual has a lot of knowledge about addiction, treatment, and sobriety, but cannot apply it to their own lives.
  • An individual constantly struggles with staying sober, causing them to associate feelings of hopelessness with sobriety.
  • The person is only attempting to stay sober to appease friends and family.
  • They have been to treatment several times without much success.
  • An individual refuses to address issues or past traumas directly correlated to their substance abuse.

If you or a loved one displays the listed signs above, it may be time to consider addiction treatment at a rehab center that is specifically designed to treat chronic relapse.

Finding a Rehab Center for Chronic Relapse

If you suffer from chronic relapse, it is important to find a rehab center that specializes in treating such issues. Without specialized treatment, your cycle of relapse will likely continue. To procure the best results and have the highest chance of lifelong sobriety, look for a rehab program that contains the following characteristics.

Long-Term Treatment Program Options

Research has shown that individuals who attend treatment for long periods of time have higher success rates than people who attend short addiction treatment programs.[3] Rehab programs that last for 90 days or more allow the patient time to heal from physical symptoms of withdrawal and address any deep-seated issues that contribute to the development of their substance abuse problems. Additionally, patients learn to apply coping mechanisms into their daily lives, preventing relapse from occurring in the future.

Care for Co-Occurring Disorders

Individuals who deal with chronic relapse often have underlying issues at work. Oftentimes, they are struggling with co-occurring mental health conditions that have not been properly addressed. People who struggle with chronic relapse should attend a relapse center that includes dual diagnosis treatment for co-occurring disorders.

Relapse Prevention Planning

Individuals who relapse repeatedly require aftercare planning to help keep them on track when leaving treatment. This should include a relapse prevention plan.

Relapse prevention plans should include the following:

  • A self-assessment that reflects on previous substance abuse and triggers.
  • An outline of triggers and plans specific to each trigger to help the individual cope instead of relapsing.
  •  Step-by-step instructions for individuals to follow if they do relapse.
  • A list of supports (friends, family, therapists, and sponsors) for the individual to call when feeling triggered.
  • Goals for the individual to follow to keep them sober and healthy.

Transitional Housing Options

Individuals who deal with chronic relapse have better outcomes when they attend a transitional housing program after completing addiction treatment. Sober living homes provide individuals with a structured home environment during early recovery. Transitional living helps teach them accountability by providing routine drug and alcohol tests, daily chores, and required addiction recovery meetings each week (alcoholics anonymous, narcotics anonymous, etc.). In doing so, individuals learn how to live on their own and continue to apply addiction recovery tactics without supervision from an addiction specialist.

If you or a loved one struggles with relapse, it’s time to attend an addiction treatment center that meets your every need. For help finding a rehab center for chronic relapse, contact New Jersey Addiction Interventions today. 


  1. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2797101/
  2. https://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/drugs-brains-behavior-science-addiction/treatment-recovery
  3. https://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/principles-drug-addiction-treatment-research-based-guide-third-edition/principles-effective-treatment

Medically Reviewed: August 17, 2021

Dr Ashley

Medical Reviewer

Chief Editor


All of the information on this page has been reviewed and verified by a certified addiction professional.

Dr Ashley Murray obtained her MBBCh Cum Laude in 2016. She currently practices in the public domain in South Africa. She has an interest in medical writing and has a keen interest in evidence-based medicine.

All of the information on this page has been reviewed and verified by a certified addiction professional.

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