Sometimes recovery can feel like a cycle of wash, rinse, repeat. The cycle begins with the completion of a treatment program. Then you’re discharged and can live your best independent life. A distressing situation occurs causing you to slide back into old habits. The cycle completes itself with you entering another treatment program. Breaking the treatment cycle may be hard, but it’s not impossible. You can put in the work and commitment to maintain continued sobriety.
The Revolving Door Phenomenon
The cycle of treatment can occur in any psychological disorder like schizophrenia, mood disorders, and substance use disorders (SUDs). The revolving door phenomenon can refer to any instance in which a person is released from an institution but falls back into old habits that the institution was supposed to treat and becomes reinstitutionalized. The Center for Disease Control (CDC) describes revolving door syndrome in 6 stages:
#1. Insurance pressure for early discharge cuts treatment short.
#2. The follow-up treatment program and/or medication monitoring supervise the patient inadequately.
#3. The patient re-enters treatment after a crisis-induced relapse.
#4. The treatment de-escalates and detoxes the patient.
#5. The program discharges the patient with a similar lack of psychiatric follow-up.
#6. The patient re-enters treatment after a crisis causes another relapse.
Understanding the steps that cause a repetitive cycle of treatment, discharge, and crisis can help you analyze what went wrong. Did you lack access to resources? Did you forget to practice the mental health tools you learned in treatment? You must adequately plan for a successful transition from treatment to continued recovery so that you don’t fall back into these 6 steps.
Repeating a Program
If you’re stuck in the treatment cycle you may think, “What’s the point of going back?” However, you are not the same person you were the first time you entered a rehab program. Relapse might be a part of your recovery, but it doesn’t mean that you’re back at square one. It doesn’t negate all the work you put into your mental health, physical well-being, and spiritual exploration. You’ve hit a bump in the road, but no one’s path looks like a straight line.
Even if you commit to a rehab program that you already went through, the program will serve a different purpose because you progressed before relapsing. You might get something out of the program that you didn’t look for before. You might’ve experienced denial before, whereas, you’re more open to changing your patterns now. It’s impossible to recreate an old experience, so embrace the opportunity to advocate for your current needs. Repeating a program won’t be a waste of time if you commit to it.
Making a Change
Decide from the start of your treatment what you want to do differently this time around. This could include anything from a relapse prevention plan to connecting with your peers outside of treatment. Brainstorm with your mental health professional for practices, tools, and skills that can make your recovery more sustainable.
Developing a Relapse Prevention Plan
Initiate a conversation with your mental health professional to create a plan for continuing care post-treatment. Upon completion of your rehabilitation program, you won’t have the regular structure that a rehab program can provide, so you need to create your structure. A relapse prevention plan can include sober living, connecting with an outpatient therapist, or joining a recovery group. The more you prepare; the more you’ll succeed in recovery.
Avoid Pink Cloud
The pink cloud effect causes a feeling of euphoria and confidence after completing a treatment program. Similar to the honeymoon phase of a relationship, you may experience a post-treatment elation. You live independently with a clear head and open heart. It’s a new exciting step in your recovery. During this time you will likely start to reconnect with hobbies and people you love.
The pink cloud poses a danger in that it can make you feel like you don’t need to practice your mental health tools or that you can delay finding a therapist because of how good you feel. This good feeling won’t last forever though. When a distressing situation occurs, you want a community, routine, and mental help professionals to fall back on.
Use Your Support Network
Completing a rehab program and leaving a facility’s campus doesn’t mean you have to go through the rest of your recovery on your own. You may not have supportive peers constantly surrounding you, but you should have a support network set in place for when you need it. You can do this by attending recovery meetings, finding a new group of peers to connect with, and leaning on friends and family when you need help. Use the people and resources that are available to you to prevent relapse.
Stick to Your Plan
Before exiting a program, you should create an aftercare plan. Once you leave the program, you should stick to your plan as closely as possible. Go to therapy. Continue to take prescribed medication. Schedule regular check-ins to make sure life isn’t getting in the way of taking care of yourself. Practice your mental health management skills so that when you are facing a crisis you can healthily process your emotions and reach out for help when necessary. Breaking the treatment cycle requires awareness of your current habits and vigilance that you continue to make healthy choices.
You can break the cycle of treatment and relapse by adhering to your relapse prevention plan and utilizing your resources. Acknowledge that your healing journey does not end with the completion of a rehab program. You should observe your behavior so you can catch yourself before you fully slip back into old habits. Rehabilitation Recovery Center understands that everyone recovers at their own pace. We will not kick you out before you are ready. We want you to have the best chance possible at having a continued successful recovery. Our mental health professionals will work closely with you to develop habits that you can use post-treatment to manage your substance use and mental health symptoms. If you or someone you know is struggling with substance use please call Rehabilitation Recovery Center at (888) 290-0925 to learn how we can help you achieve long-term sobriety through our body and mind-focused treatments.