Addiction Recovery – Long term sobriety

Addiction Recovery: A target sometimes missed.

We have all heard of a person who has relapsed after beginning their road to recovery and sobriety. Are these relapses the same, regardless of recovery level? Can a person in addiction recovery develop chronic relapse? To better understand why some people are falling short of long term addiction recovery, we need to get you some answers to these pertinent questions.

What is Chronic Relapse?

addiction-recovery-a-hard-tripSimply put, chronic relapse is the cycle of quitting a substance and relapsing. It can be a self-imposed recovery or as a result of a rehabilitation effort which has not been completed. Although not strictly defined, chronic relapse is partly the same as how you would describe any other debilitating recurring issue which affects a human body and mind. Think of chronic back pain. Or a chronic illness. It keeps coming back, you continually live with it. This isn’t once or twice. Chronic relapse is a constant attempt in addiction recovery by a recovering addict to change their ways without long term success.

Addiction Recovery – It’s not the stop that is hard.

Robert Downey Jr said it best: “Stopping isn’t hard. Not starting again is.” You can visit any rehabilitation centre and they will tell you how often staff work with people in addiction recovery who swore blindly to their loved ones that they are finished with the drug or substance. Often you will hear them say they are done and do not ever want to go near the substance again. And the sad part of this all is, they genuinely mean it.  They are trying their very best to change on the physical level. However, they are not making a change in the other parts of our identity which are as important; the mental, emotional and spiritual parts of addiction recovery.

When you quit a substance, you are addressing the physical section of your identity. You are making a physical action to stop the contents from entering your body. That is one step. Without making changes on mental and/or emotional levels you will unfortunately never change your mindset. How you think, what you feel and believe about addiction recovery is crucial in decision making. Making a physical change is not actually the level that is most important to address an addiction problem. You need to change the things that caused the substance abuse to begin with. By ignoring the core issues – you are ignoring the real way forward for real long term sobriety. Solve the cause, find sobriety in your addiction recovery.

Willpower is not enough for addiction recovery

When a person relapses they often feel defeated. A sense of sadness and self-loathing often overcomes them as they feel that they aren’t trying addiction recovery hard enough and simply don’t have the willpower to stop. We need to say this loudly so you can hear it clearly. NO ONE HAS ENOUGH WILLPOWER TO DO IT ALONE.

Like any energy source, willpower is a finite resource. It will run out. It could be today, next week or in 3 months’ time, but it will run dry. In saying that, it is very important to note that willpower is not the solution to addiction recovery, but many people are told that it is. When you then attempt to remain sober and relapse, you feel like you have failed because of what you have been told. In the real world however it is not because you have failed, it is because you have just not received the mental and emotional-level help needed. Yet.

Dual Diagnosis Support – the weapon to treat chronic relapse

An addict turns to a substance to find a way to cope with what they are feeling. That cycle can be broken by addressing those underlying addiction recovery issues. Let us backtrack to an earlier comment regarding the physical aspect of addiction. For some people, addiction is just a physical problem. In these addiction recovery cases, detoxing from the substance is usually enough to treat the addiction. However, and this is a big, however, when relapse occurs, this is a sign that there are emotional issues that require more intensive psychological treatment.

To go forward towards recovery, the addict will need to get assistance to deal with the mental and emotional issues that are causing the pain and in turn causing the need for the addictive substance.

This treatment is called dual diagnosis treatment. Dual Diagnosis treatment is the highly skilled method of treating the substance addiction while simultaneously treating a mental or emotional issue like anxiety, depression, trauma, self-loathing, hopelessness, death and other issues.

What options are there for addiction recovery?

There are two main treatments types for chronic drug and alcohol abuse

 Outpatient addiction counselling

This form of treatment is regarded as a less intensive option.  In this form of treatment, the patient is not hospitalized overnight. Instead, there is a daily commute to the treatment facility for care and then you go return home. The right outpatient counselling has the opportunity to address issues like chronic relapse and even dual diagnosis concerns. Meeting with a professional counsellor a few times per week is regarded as a low commitment level requirement compared to inpatient treatment which allows you to live your life relatively normally.

There is a negative. For many, it’s not enough, and it fails to offer a higher chance of success than its counterpart.

Inpatient drug and alcohol treatment

This form of treatment is regarded as a more intensive option. This form of treatment puts you in a controlled environment and removes from your usual environment for a period of time.  It gives you 24/7 access to professional counsellors. This treatment gives you more face-to-face time with a counsellor which in turn gives you a solid start on that ever so important road to recovery. If you are experiencing chronic relapse, it may be time to consider inpatient rehab as an option.

Which Treatment Option Is Best?

If you are just at the beginning stages of recovery, counselling and support groups are a great option. You need to remember one thing. Nothing will work without an actual and genuine desire to change from YOU. You are going to need to give 110% commitment to the outstretched hand offering help and guidance. If outpatient counselling and support programmes have not worked for you in the past, a more intensive inpatient programme might be needed


It is hard to break the cycle of chronic relapse. It is even harder when a person is surrounded by triggers in the form of people, situations and places. The safety of Inpatient rehab provides for a nurturing environment where you can find and build new skills and focus on recovery, free from triggers and distraction.

Final thoughts on addiction recovery

Whatever path you decide to take, give it your all. Should relapse becomes chronic,  know that it’s a signal of unresolved underlying emotional issues that need healing. Speak to a professional; it could be the most important call of your life.

For more information on dealing with any addiction and getting yourself help to start a new life, call Houghton House now:

Rehab in Johannesburg office hours:  011 787 9142

24/7 emergency Rehab in South Africa helpline: 079 770 7532

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