How Psychological Addiction Can Cause Relapse

Medical detox can be a powerful first step in eliminating drug and alcohol addiction from your life. However, the physical component of addiction is almost always accompanied by psychological addiction—also known as the “psychic need”—that causes dependent individuals to turn to drugs or alcohol in the first place. As you begin to explore the role of psychological addiction in chemical dependency, it will become apparent how psychological addiction itself can cause relapse—even in those individuals who have been through inpatient rehab programs.

The Reality of Relapse After Drug and Alcohol Rehab

Many chemically dependent individuals erroneously assume that enrollment in a drug or alcohol addiction recovery program will guarantee a sober life upon graduation. Though almost each relapsed individual has undergone professional drug and alcohol detox, the removal of the physical addiction itself did not provide healing for the vast majority of chemically dependent individuals. This is often because the psychological root cause of addiction has failed to be identified and properly treated.

How Psychological Addiction Can Cause Relapse

Underneath every addiction is a root cause that causes the chemically dependent individual to seek out drug or alcohol use in the first place. Often, these psychological root causes can include buried emotional trauma, lifelong negative self views, or an inability to cope with life’s tragedies and challenges. As a result of these psychological states, drugs or alcohol are often used as an escape mechanism, or as a means of self-medicating psychological pain. For some dependent individuals, a dual diagnosis has been overlooked. In dual diagnosis cases, the dependent individual suffers from an undiagnosed psychological disorder that has led them, too, to self-medicate with alcohol or drugs.

Even when the body has been properly detoxed, the drug or alcohol addicted individual simply ends up in the same place they did before use and addiction took over—seeking an escape or a way to suppress psychological pain. When individuals do not receive the benefit of deep, personalized psychological counseling by qualified therapists, they cannot eliminate the drive to lose themselves in alcohol or drugs. Quite often, this leads to relapse—either in the form of a return to their prior addiction, or the substitution of another chemical addiction in place of their prior drug of choice.

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