How to Help a Chronic Relapser

How to Help a Chronic Relapser

What is a Relapse?

Relapse is resuming the use of a drug or a chemical substance after one or more periods of abstinence; a recurrence of symptoms of a disease (addiction) after a period of improvement; to slip or fall back into a former worse state (active addiction).

What is a Chronic Relapser?

Many addicts have a lifetime of drug and alcohol abuse but have never actually attempted to get sober. What makes chronic relapsers distinct is that they have tried and failed at maintaining sobriety many times over.

Profile of the Chronic Relapser

  • Numerous failed attempts at sobriety, or a return to drugs/alcohol after a substantial period of sobriety
  • Unable to maintain sobriety despite having a wealth of knowledge about addiction and recovery
  • Continued substance use despite significant, severe and repeated consequences
  • Chronic relapsers often feel hopeless that they will ever find lasting sobriety
  • Multiple treatment episodes, including psychiatric treatment, detox, residential, outpatient, and halfway houses
  • Significant exposure, attendance and/or participation in 12-Step programs. Chronic relapsers have a history of repeatedly working Steps 1, 2 and 3, but have never completed all 12
  • Treatment-savvy have learned to navigate their way through the treatment industry to meet their own agenda
  • A unique talent to exhaust the financial resources and emotional support of loved ones. Chronic relapsers leave their loved ones depleted of energy and emotional resources
  • As with most addicts, a pervasive cluster of personality characteristics are frequently exaggerated in the chronic relapser; they are very charming, intelligent, manipulative, convincing, deceitful, lovable, talented and passionate; chronic relapsers have mastered the art of survival, in and out of treatment.

How to Help a Chronic Relapser

Below are ways to get involve, support, and encourage successful recovery for a chronic relapser.

Encourage a long-term length of stay. It is a well-established fact that long-term treatment increases the chances of lasting sobriety. It is important to define the term “long-term treatment” as in a length of stay in excess of nine months. It can take a chronic relapser three to six months to wake up out of the fog in which they have been living. Post-acute withdrawal syndrome (PAWS) is very significant in chronic relapsers and frequently interferes considerably with their ability to comprehend recovery principles in early sobriety.

Remove outside distractions. Chronic relapsers are masters at distracting themselves and others from seeing the truth about them. It is essential to remove all things they use to change the way they feel and to force them to sit in their own skin.  It is well within the boundaries the treatment center to limit distractions through therapeutic contracts, clear-cut facility rules and guidelines, and limited family contact. As a loved one or family member of a chronic relapser, be aware that you may be asked not to visit early on or often throughout treatment.

Emphasize the mental and spiritual nature of the disease. It is essential that chronic relapsers understand they have a disease of the mind body and spirit, and that the solution through the 12 Steps is spiritual in nature.

Be active in getting your own treatment. In most cases, the family has participated in the progression of the illness in the chronic relapser through intense enabling behaviors. Therapy for the family cannot just be a suggestion; it must be non-negotiable. Get involved with Al-Anon or Nar-Anon and consider counseling for yourself and other family members.

Put an end to enabling. Family leverage is usually the most significant in keeping a chronic relapser in long-term treatment. Chronic relapsers must recognize in no uncertain terms that they will not receive any emotional or financial support from their family if they do not complete long-term treatment or remain sober.

Stay one step ahead. It has been established that chronic relapsers are treatment-savvy, tricky and highly manipulative. When you, as the family, do get to speak and/or visit the chronic relapser, don’t take what they say at face value. Don’t give them an inch.

Emphasize that they work all 12 Steps with a sponsor. It is important that working the 12 Steps is not just a suggestion, but a requirement. These individuals must be held accountable to obtain a sponsor and work all 12 Steps while they are still in treatment.

Be relentless with accountability. Treatment for the chronic relapser should include a constant emphasis on accountability, responsibility and consistency. It is essential that there be rules, limits, boundaries and consequences with chronic relapsers. Family and friends can support but knowing what is expected of their loved one and reinforcing these policies and practices in their encounters with the chronic relapser.

Sources:

http://www.addictionpro.com/

http://www.merriam-webster.com/

https://en.wikipedia.org

 

Are you taking your Recovery for Granted?

Are you taking your Recovery for Granted?Are you taking your Recovery for Granted?

“It is easy to let up on the spiritual program of action and rest on our laurels. We are headed for trouble if we do, for alcohol is a subtle foe. We are not cured of alcoholism. What we really have is a daily reprieve contingent on the maintenance of our spiritual condition.”

-Big Book of AA, pg. 85.

In the Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous it mentions “resting on laurels” which means to be satisfied with what you have achieved and stop taking action in your recovery. It means taking your recovery for granted. This is a common problem among alcoholics, especially when they acquire some sober time and begin to feel comfortable.

For good reason, we pay a lot of attention to newcomers in recovery. They are the primary reason we have meetings. Because of this, however, if you have some sober time and are taking your recovery for granted, the signs may be more difficult to recognize.

Usually, the signs of taking your recovery for granted come long before a relapse. It is important to recognize these signs early on and take action to correct them.

1. Exhaustion- Allowing yourself to become overly tired, usually associated with overwork, is an excuse for not facing personal problems and frustrations.

2. Dishonesty- Dishonesty begins with a pattern of little lies, and then it escalates to self-delusion and making excuses for not doing the things you should be doing.

3. Impatience: You want what you want right now. You get frustrated when others aren’t doing what you think they should be doing or living the way you think is right.

4. Argumentative: You don’t let things go. No point is too small or insignificant not to be debated to the point of anger and submission.

5. Depression- You feel unreasonable, unaccountable despair. You don’t feel happy in your life.

6. Frustration-You feel controlled anger or resentment when things don’t go your way. You can’t accept the way things are.

7. Self-pity- You feel victimized, put-upon, used, or unappreciated. You become convinced that you are being singled out for bad luck.

8. Cockiness- You feel like you’ve “got this.” You know all there is to know about recovery, and you can go anywhere, including frequently going just to hang out in bars or with people who are drinking and doing a lot of drugs.

9. Complacency- You no longer see the value of a daily program, meetings, contact with other alcoholics.

10. Expecting too much of others- You wonder why people can’t just understand you or act the way you want them to act. You feel misunderstood and unappreciated.

11. Letting up on disciplines- You allow established habits of recovery-meditation, prayers, spiritual reading, AA contact, daily inventory, meetings to slip.

12. Forgetting gratitude- You start to lose sight of abundant blessings in your everyday life.

If you notice any of these signs in yourself, you may be taking your recovery for granted. Take action now to get back on track.

 

How to avoid relapse

How to avoid a relapse

How to avoid a relapse

How to avoid relapse

Drug addiction and alcoholism is a disease. So when you make the decision to stop using drugs and alcohol the disease still remains and this makes stopping no easy feat. As with any disease, such as hypertension or diabetes it is possible to relapse. When you reach your goal of sobriety and then use drugs again it does not mean you are a failure or that rehab didn’t work. Relapse just means that the symptoms of your disease have reappeared and some adjustments need to be made to your lifestyle.

If you have a problem with drugs and alcohol, you may be wondering how to avoid relapse. Here are some ways that you can be most successful at avoiding relapse once and for all.

Change your friends.

When you have made a decision to not use drugs or drink anymore, than you have to change everything about your lifestyle. Choosing new friends could be the first step for you in the process of avoiding relapse. If you are going to stay sober then it is important that you no longer expose yourself to the temptation of drugs and alcohol. Spending time with people you used drugs and alcohol with may tempt you so a good way to avoid relapse is to stop spending time with your old friends and get some new ones that have the same goal as you-sobriety.

Don’t go to old places where you used to get high or drunk.

One of the best ways to avoid relapse during early sobriety is to stay away from certain locations where you used or were drinking. Certain places are part of our drug use and may include places like:

  • Raves
  • Bars
  • Clubs
  • Parts of college campuses
  • Friend’s Houses

Going to these locations in sobriety could tempt you and cause you to relapse. So if you are trying to get sober and avoid relapse then it is best if you avoid these locations.

Consider going to a halfway house or sober living house.

A halfway house or sober living house is a great way to avoid relapse. This is because a halfway house or sober living house is a residence where only individuals in recovery live. These people can offer you encouragement and support when you feel like you might relapse. A halfway house or sober living house also helps you to avoid relapse because it helps you to achieve the first two tasks outlined in this blog, avoiding old places and old friends.

Have a plan to avoid relapse.

Part of the disease of addiction and alcoholism consists of having cravings for drugs and alcohol. As you get more clean time these cravings will lessen but they will always pop up. The best way to avoid relapse when cravings pop up is to have a plan. This plan can consist of what meetings you will go to druing difficult times and discussing your situation with non-drug using friends and supportive family members. Having a network of people to talk to during this time of craving is a great way to avoid relapse.

If you want to know how to avoid relapse the best way you can do so is to change everything about life and to utilize a 12 step program and fellowship. While relapse is a symptom of the disease it doesn’t have to be a part of your recovery. You don’t have to relapse. You can stay sober for the rest of your life its just a matter of taking it one day at a time and doing the next right thing. If you do this then you are guaranteed to not only avoid relapse but bypass it all together.