What Is Revolving Door Syndrome and How To Avoid It

What Is Revolving Door Syndrome and How To Avoid It

You’ve spent time in a drug treatment facility, you’ve done the 12-Steps, you relapsed – and here you are – back in rehab, again. This isn’t the first time this has happened, and you feel like it won’t be your last. It’s called revolving door syndrome, and it can happen among those battling a substance use disorder or addiction. The reason this happens depends on the person and their situation. Maybe you didn’t connect with your treatment program, or perhaps you weren’t entirely ready. Whatever the reason, never give up hope. There are always new approaches you can take to successfully keep on track with your recovery and end chronic relapse. 

When is relapse considered a problem?

Relapse happens. In fact, rates of relapse hover around 40-60 percent within the first year of treatment, according to The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA). For some people, relapse can be part of the process, and relapse rates for substance and alcohol use are similar to rates for other chronic medical illnesses. If people stop following their medical treatment plan, they are likely to relapse (NIDA). So when is relapse considered part of the process and when is it considered an issue? While it’s expected for individuals to take a few attempts at rehab before they can get ahold of sobriety, the act of continually cycling between sobriety, relapse, and back in rehab over a period of years is not considered a normal part of the process and needs to be examined. 

Why does revolving door syndrome happen?

The reasons for revolving door syndrome (sometimes referred to as chronic rehabbing) can stretch far and wide, as no to people are alike. However, some common reasons for this syndrome may include:

  • Fear of the unknown – those who have battled substance disorders and addiction often do not know any other way to live. When they return to their former life after rehab, the fear of the unknown becomes too much to bear, leading to relapse.
  • Not prepared for the outside world – some individuals believe that by just stopping their drug or alcohol use is enough to sustain sobriety. They do not implement any of the tools they learned in rehab into their new lives to make the long-term changes necessary to stay sober. By not practicing these new skills, they are not ready for the overwhelming challenges of the outside world and start using substances again to deal with these issues. 
  • In rehab for the wrong reasons – while many people with substance use disorders enter rehab for the right reasons, some enter for reasons – none of which have to do with them. They may start a program to appease family members or friends, win back a partner, or to avoid legal problems or jail time.  
  • Impatient with the process – some people keep cycling in and out of rehab because they do not give the process a chance. They may feel that if treatment fails once, it will always fail or if the 12-Steps aren’t working right away, they give up and relapse. This negative and impatient outlook can cause chronic rehabbing. 
  • An undiagnosed mental health disorder – individuals living with mental health disorders may suffer repeated relapses because they did not disclose this information during their intake process. After rehab, this person has a high chance of relapse without the proper diagnosis and treatment of a co-occurring disorder.

Long-term consequences of the revolving door

Chronic stints in rehab can cause a number of long-term problems, some of which could turn deadly. For those who are dealing with repeated relapsing, the entire process can become emotionally draining and place a huge toll on interpersonal relationships. Not only is the person battling addiction exhausted from the cyclical process, but their family and friends suffer from the pain and frustration of watching their loved one relapse time and time again. Moreover, being caught up in the revolving door of recovery causes a substantial financial burden for those in recovery and their loved ones. According to the NIDA, the U.S. Department of Defense stated that certified opioid rehabilitation program costs often range from $6,552.00 a year for methadone treatment to $14,112.00 per year for naltrexone outpatient treatment. Finally, revolving door syndrome can prove to be dangerous as an individual’s addiction can grow progressively worse over time, leading to an overdose or even death.

How to avoid the revolving door and stay on track to long-term sobriety

In order to stop revolving door syndrome, those in recovery need the right tools to help them succeed, especially once they get back to the real world. The most effective way to treat substance use disorders is to find the underlying issue(s) and provide professional support to treat each affliction. At Silver Lining Recovery, our customized treatment program offers one-on-one therapy sessions with knowledgeable, compassionate and experienced counselors that guide you step-by-step and uncover unresolved issues that may be fueling the addiction to continue. By identifying the root cause of addiction, you can begin your journey to true self-healing and long-term sobriety. From comprehensive inpatient and outpatient programs, group and individual therapy, and 12-Step programs to meditation therapy, alternative treatment modalities, and academic and career counseling, at Silver Lining Recovery – we treat the whole person. Don’t let your addiction rule your life, call us today at 1-833-8GROWTH.