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Addiction Escape for Chronic Relapsers


If you have tried many times to achieve long-term recovery but you keep on failing, it could easily lead to a feeling of hopelessness. Chronic relapsers may feel that they have tried everything already to stop, and that the best they can do now is accept their situation. Friends and family may also begin to believe that the situation is unsalvageable. The reality is, though, there is almost certainly a path out of addiction that will work for you.

Are There Hopeless Cases in Addiction?

Some people will struggle so long with addiction problems that those around them will begin to worry if the addicted individual is a hopeless case. Up until a couple decades ago, it was common for even people working in recovery to write some people off as hopeless cases. In Alcoholics Anonymous they talked about people who were ‘constitutionally incapable of being honest with themselves’. In many cases, these were individuals who had mental health problems, such as depression, alongside their addiction; nowadays this is commonly referred to as a dual diagnosis.

Addiction treatment has come a long way in recent years, meaning there is usually a solution no matter what the requirements of the individual. This means not many people would be considered a hopeless case. The fact that you are reading this almost guarantees that you do not belong to this category. There are some people who have suffered severe brain damage because of their addiction (alcoholic dementia), and these individuals will find it very hard to stop on their own.

Is Relapse a Normal Part of Recovery?

The reality is that most people who try to quit alcohol or drugs will fail many times before they are finally able to quit. In fact, many of them will have been considered chronic relapsers. It is sometimes suggested that relapse is a normal part of recovery. This does not mean that people need to relapse in order to break away from addiction, but there is a common pattern of people trying many times to quit before being able to do so. Of course, it is best if people never have to go through this chronic relapsing stage.

The Dangers of Being a Chronic Relapser

Those individuals who are unable to break away from their addiction problems can be in real danger because:

  • many chronic relapsers die before they are able to quit forever
  • the person may do serious damage to their body and mind before they are able to stop
  • the individual will be missing out on the good life they could be having in recovery
  • it can be very hard on the person’s loved ones to see her/him struggling like this
  • the longer the person remains addicted, the more they will end up losing from their life
  • every time the person tries to quit but fails, it can reduce their self-efficacy.

Chronic Relapsers and Self-Efficacy

Self-efficacy is the belief that you have in your ability to do something. If you have high self-efficacy, it means that you are motivated and confident. This greatly increases your chances of achieving your goal. If you have low self-efficacy, it means that you feel powerless and unable to change. This greatly reduces your chances of breaking away from addiction.

The problem with falling into a pattern of continuously relapsing back to addiction is that it can cause people to develop low self-efficacy. Every time that they fail, it can chip away at their confidence and makes it that bit harder to quit the next time. Eventually the person’s self-efficacy can fall so low that they just feel powerless and hopeless. It can be very difficult for them to escape from this situation.

There are many ways to increase self-efficacy for quitting addiction, including:

  • an addiction therapist can use motivational interviewing techniques to encourage the individual to increase the individual’s self-efficacy
  • spending time with peers who have managed to break away from addiction – a case of ‘if they can do it then so can I’
  • reading motivational recovery books or using similar resources.

How to Escape the Chronic Relapse Cycle

Here are a few ideas for how you can break out of the chronic relapse cycle.

  • In Alcoholics Anonymous, they warn that if you keep on doing the same things, you will keep having the same things happen to you – this means that you should try a different approach to help you break away from addiction.
  • One of the common reasons why people fail to break away from addiction is that they do not have enough support, so the solution may be to get more support.
  • If you have never tried a recovery fellowship, this may be something that can make a huge difference.
  • Going into rehab can provide you with the tools you need to break away from addiction.
  • Going to rehab also means that you can be protected during the early delicate days of your recovery.
  • It is vital that you try to learn from your relapses so that you do not keep making the same mistakes repeatedly.
  • Make sure that you have a clear positive reason for wanting to quit – fear will only get you so far.
  • Take measures to increase your self-efficacy – the higher your motivation, the better your chances of recovery.
  • Spending time with an addiction therapist may help you discover the missing ingredient that is preventing you from escaping addiction.
  • Never lose hope, there are countless examples of people who were in your position but managed to eventually escape.
  • Understand that the best time for you to quit your addiction is right now – the longer you stay addicted, the more you will end up losing.

Remember that the only people who really fail in life are the ones who stop trying.

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