Sovereign Health Group Blog

Sovereign Health’s CEO provides a fresh perspective on relapse

02-23-17 Category: Recovery, Sober Living

Sovereign Health’s CEO provides a fresh perspective on relapse

The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) defines addiction as “a chronic, relapsing brain disease.” Like other chronic diseases, relapses in addiction are common. According to NIDA, between 40 to 60 percent of patients can expect to relapse at least once during their recovery, a percentage comparable to Type 1 diabetes, hypertension and asthma.

Unfortunately, many people – including those struggling with addiction – see relapses as a sign of failure. A successful treatment program, such as those offered by Sovereign Health, views relapses as opportunities to make recovery stronger. “Addiction is a chronic, relapsing, remitting illness, but it’s treated with episodic care,” said Sovereign CEO Dr. Tonmoy Sharma in a recent Los Angeles Times editorial. Dr. Sharma says this treatment approach creates false expectations that treatment is finished, rather than something that needs to be cared for continually.

Dr. Sharma further elaborated on his company’s view of relapse in a recent article in Addiction Professional.

Fighting relapse with management

Sovereign emphasizes recovery management over sporadic care. “If we don’t get that right, everything downstream is going to be wrong,” said Dr. Sharma in the article. Rather than a sign that treatment has simply failed, Dr. Sharma sees relapses as teaching opportunities. He offers three ways patients can learn from their relapses rather than admitting defeat:

  • Patients should not view short-term setbacks, such as relapses, as a sign that success is impossible. Rather, Dr. Sharma says successful treatment programs should consider a relapse as a momentary lapse in judgment.
  • Patients who relapse have an opportunity to learn – and grow stronger – by examining and studying the people, places or thoughts that may have led to the relapse so they can avoid those triggers in the future.
  • Both patients and clinicians should create a plan which helps patients avoid or resist the situations which can lead to relapses. “They need to feel a connection,” says Dr. Sharma of Sovereign’s patients. “It makes the clinician more like a partner.”

Additionally, Dr. Sharma also told Addiction Professional that it’s important to have patients understand that some of the biological causes that drive relapse aren’t always things they can directly control.

How Sovereign helps patients fight relapse

Sovereign provides a comprehensive continuing care program at its facilities in California, Florida and Texas. Some components of this program include:

  • Attending support group meetings
  • Participating in community activities
  • Taking life skills training

Some of Sovereign’s locations provide specialized continuing care suited to certain patients’ particular needs. At its Palm Desert site, Sovereign’s Personal Recovery Integrating Men’s Experiences (PRIME) program addresses the needs of men over the age of 40, while women in Sovereign’s eating disorders program in San Clemente can receive continuing care for anorexia and bulimia.

Recently, Sovereign launched a new telehealth program called eTherapy. Designed for patients in Sovereign’s outpatient programs, eTherapy allows patients to attend therapy sessions via videoconferencing. A patient uses any device which can stream video – computer, tablet or smartphone – to log in to a HIPAA-compliant program, which then establishes a video chat session with a clinical professional. This allows a patient who may live far away from a clinician’s office – or a patient who is uncomfortable by a face-to-face session – to still receive therapy.

Sovereign prides itself on being fully committed to patients’ recovery from the moment they enter our care to when they rebuild their lives. We make use of effective, evidence-based treatment methods to give our patients the tools they need to minimize relapse even before they enter our continuing care program. We’re with our clients every step of the way. For more information, please contact our 24/7 helpline.

About the Author

Brian Moore is a staff writer and graphic designer for Sovereign Health. A 20-year veteran of the newspaper industry, he writes articles and creates graphics across Sovereign’s portfolio of marketing and content products. Brian enjoys music, bicycling and playing the tuba, which he’s done with varying degrees of success for over 25 years. For more information and other inquiries about this media, contact the author and designer at

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