– April 04, 2017


Chronic is a word that only applies to an illness. By definition chronic means “persistent for a long time or constantly recurring.” Relapse, as a verb, also applies to illness, more specifically someone suffering from a disease. It means to “suffer deterioration after a period of improvement”. As a noun, relapse is “a deterioration is someone’s state of health after a temporary improvement.”

Chronic relapse is a term used in addiction and treatment. As applied to addiction, using the dictionary definitions, a chronic relapse is a persistent and constantly recurring deterioration of someone’s state of health after a period of improvement. Addiction and alcoholism are illnesses. They are diseases of mind, body, and spirit. Chronic relapse is what happens when someone who is ill with the disease of addiction and/or alcoholism does not stay sober and continuously slips back into the deteriorating state of active addiction. Addiction always worsens. As The Big Book Of Alcoholics Anonymous puts it, relapse “gets worse, never better.” Chronic relapse is applied to those who don’t experience periodic relapses in between series of years or decades, but those who chronically relapse, meaning they cannot stay sober for more than days, weeks, or months at a time.

Why Does Chronic Relapse Happen?

One of the first answers you hear about relapse is that it is a process, not an episode. Relapse does not suddenly happen, it is usually a choice made as a consequence of many weeks full of adverse behavioral decisions. Relapse is a choice, not a requirement, in recovery. Many people argue that chronic relapse happens because someone simply isn’t willing to stay sober. Willingness is a part of it. However, the brain has to be in a certain state of health to be willing. Drugs and alcohol can cause significant cognitive damage to the brain, impairing the ability to rationalize, think morally, gauge consequences, and make good judgments. Without the ability of the brain to support willingness it is difficult to change perspective on using drugs and alcohol. After many years of abuse, using drugs and alcohol becomes the default answer to everything. When the constitutional ability to choose a different answer is impaired, the ability to choose at all is impaired.

Chronic relapse can happen because of significant chemical dependency, severe brain damage, and an inability to stay sober. Many things drive people to continue using, including fear of change, fear of the unknown, and difficulty coping with the emotions of sobriety.

Relapse does not have to be a part of your story. If you are struggling with chronic relapse and are ready to get sober, call Get Real Recovery today. Our programs will help you eliminate the self-sabotaging behaviors which keep you in the relapse cycle and build your self esteem for success in sobriety. It is possible. Call 866-983-3651 for more information.

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