Why Drug or Alcohol Addiction Is a Chronic Relapsing Illness

Why Drug or Alcohol Addiction Is a Chronic Relapsing Illness

It’s hard to find a disease that is more heartbreaking and frustrating than addiction. You may spend years trying to convince yourself or a loved one to stop using drugs and alcohol. Then, one day, you decide to try, and you get some sober days under your belt only to find yourself relapsing. You might see relapse as a failure, but sometimes relapse is a part of recovery. Your brain doesn’t know how to cope without drugs and alcohol, so it’s going to take some practice to do so. Drug or alcohol addiction is a chronic relapsing illness because it’s a disease that affects the mind, body, and spirit. At The Last House, we understand how frustrating addiction can be and why relapse can seem like a failure. However, we also know that there are valuable lessons to be learned from a relapse. 

What Is Addiction?

Most people will not see their first drink or their first drug as the gateway to a life filled with addiction. Not everyone who uses will find themselves addicted. Addiction occurs when there is a perfect storm between biological, social, and psychological factors. Many won’t realize that they’ve crossed over into addiction until it is too late. Addiction is a chronic disease characterized by drug seeking and use that is compulsive and hard to control, despite harmful consequences. Repeatedly using drugs and alcohol changes the brain, with continued use resulting in more changes. The more you use drugs and alcohol, the more you will need to use them to achieve the same effect. Before you even know what happened, all of your decisions are about getting more drugs to use more drugs. You may start each day intending not to use, but drug or alcohol addiction is a chronic relapsing illness. Knowing this can help you to approach your recovery differently. 

Why Drug or Alcohol Addiction Is a Chronic Relapsing Illness

Using drugs or alcohol changes you, and it takes time for you to undo the damage that has been done to your body and your mind.  Detoxing your body takes far less time than rewiring the pathways in your brain. If you’ve been turning to drugs and alcohol for the last ten years, your brain will still see drugs and alcohol as the “go-to” for a long time. Drug or alcohol addiction is a chronic relapsing illness because, for years, you have been telling your brain that drugs and alcohol are the answer – regardless of the question. Post-acute withdrawal syndrome is a collection of symptoms that you may experience for months or even years after you stop using. Symptoms include feeling edgy, having difficulty sleeping, being tired, experiencing memory issues, and having urges to use. Understanding these symptoms can help you be better prepared to face cravings and avoid a relapse. 

How To Maintain Long-Term Recovery From a Drug or Alcohol Addiction

Maintaining long-term sobriety requires vigilance. In the same way that an individual diagnosed with diabetes must manage their healthy daily, so must a person who faces addiction. Staying sober requires daily effort. If you discover that someone you love has been using drugs or alcohol, you’ll find a world of options available to get them on the road to recover. 

The Last House is here to help keep them on that road. We are a network of sober living homes in the heart of West Los Angeles. We believe in providing our clients with the tools to have a meaningful life and participate in their sobriety.  Activities such as service commitments, sober parties, conventions, dances, and house outings are all a part of helping you learn how to have fun in sobriety.  If you’re helping your loved one create a sober life, The Last House is here to help. Contact us today. 

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