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chronic relapser

Chronic Relapser: How to Help Someone Who Can’t Stay Sober

Addiction can be a complicated condition, and truthfully, sometimes a person can be a chronic relapser. Addiction can completely take over a person’s life and utterly change them. For this reason, you often see individuals who lose their home, family, career, etc. in the pursuit of their substance of choice. Addiction becomes their sole motivation in life, and they are willing to cast anything else aside for that next high.

Fortunately, even with cases that reach this point, addiction can be overcome through the proper level of treatment. Some can break free of addiction after their first treatment endeavor, but this is not true for everyone. For others, it may take several goes at treatment before they achieve lasting sobriety. Many families may not know what to do when an addict relapses, as there are cases where it’s their first relapse and others where it may be their tenth. Hence, we have the most difficult cases, the chronic relapsers. These are the cases that despair families, friends, and treatment professionals at times. They are the individuals that despite numerous treatment attempts and interventions, they can just not seem to maintain sobriety. And while these cases can seem hopeless sometimes, there are appropriate ways to handle them that can often result in success.

Who is a  Chronic Relapser?

There are a few different factors to address when it comes to handling a chronic relapser. Because of the nature of their situation, they often tend to be resistant to treatment or help only because they feel it’s pointless. They usually have a history of treatment attempts and a lot of knowledge in the various tools and methods that are supposed to help them remain sober. In fact, they may even use this knowledge as ammunition for the point of treatment not helping them. While they may seem resistant or hostile toward wanting to get clean, the reality is that many of them are hopeless and despaired that they are unable to stay sober, which can cause them to lash out. They pretend they don’t want more help, when in fact, they are afraid to try and fail again.

What to Do to Help a Chronic Relapser

While you may not necessarily be able to treat your loved one directly, it’s beneficial to have some idea of what to do to help a chronic relapser. Here are a few things to keep in mind:

  • Length – When seeking help for your chronic relapsing loved one, duration of treatment is crucial. If you are involved in locating treatment, make sure that the facility is a long-term rehab. Realistically, the longer, the better. A chronic relapser requires very comprehensive treatment, and they are not going to get it in any 30-day program typically. There are programs out there that can be up to a year, and also include follow-up treatment with lower levels of care.
  • Familial Fortitude – While this is not always the case, a chronic relapser is often good at getting their way with family members. They convince them that they are doing well, and this allows them to fall back into old patterns of behavior. You must show compassion, but also be strict in not allowing the recovering addict do whatever they please or enable them. Many family members cave in when the person continues to push, and when the family members cave, they may allow the person to use or even help them to use. You must foster an environment that’s conducive to their sobriety. The person must recognize that family will offer no support financially or otherwise unless they are working toward recovery or in treatment, even including custodial leverage in some cases. It may seem threatening or wrong, but these individuals have often continued to get their way no matter what, and this allows them to believe they still can.
  • Accountability – The person must understand their accountability and responsibility in their condition and life. There must be rules to establish proper behavior, along with action on their part to display that they are working at maintaining their sobriety. Give them tasks and duties to perform in the home to keep them on track and productive. Boredom or inactivity can easily lead to relapse in many cases.

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