How To Avoid “Revolving Door Syndrome”

Revolving door syndrome is when a person participates in back-to-back addiction treatment programs due to relapse in early recovery. While the average person makes two to five recovery attempts, Spring Hill’s relapse prevention strategies can help avoid revolving door syndrome.

Addiction is a chronic medical condition, and many people attend addiction treatment multiple times before they achieve long-term sobriety.

The pattern of a repeated return to inpatient or outpatient treatment due to a return to substance use in the early stages of addiction recovery is referred to as “revolving door syndrome.”

Relapse is a very normal part of addiction recovery, and it may be challenging to stop this cycle, but it is possible to significantly reduce the risk with the right treatment plan and support.

What Is “Revolving Door Syndrome?”

“Revolving Door Syndrome” is defined as a cyclical pattern of short-term readmissions to a psychiatric unit for mental health care or to a treatment facility for substance use.

Revolving door syndrome may involve multiple readmissions for substance abuse or mental health services in a period of 30, 60, or 90 days.

How Common Is Revolving Door Syndrome?

Studies show that relapse rates for substance use disorders are between 40 and 60% but may vary by stage of disease, drug of choice, or the existence of co-occurring mental health needs.

Estimates for the number of recovery attempts needed to maintain long-term recovery from substance abuse depend on whether the mean or median is used as the estimator.

In one study, the mean was five recovery attempts, and the median was two recovery attempts.

This indicates that at least half of the cases reviewed required two or less attempts, but up to 50% required so many attempts that they average out to five overall.

Factors That Contribute To Repeated Rehabilitation Visits

Returning to alcohol or drug abuse after successful detox and rehabilitation is a major public health concern in the United States and the world.

There are a variety of factors that may lead to repeated rehabilitation attempts, including treatment types and environmental or personal factors.

Personal Factors

There are a variety of personal factors that may lead to relapse and the need for repeated treatment.

Personal factors may include:

  • age
  • religion
  • marriage
  • unemployment
  • family history
  • extended history of substance use
  • undesirable events
  • chronic pain
  • complacency
  • income
  • housing status

Additional personal factors such as low self-efficacy, poor social support, and high cravings were also associated with the need for repeated treatment.

Environmental Factors

There are various factors a person may experience in their environment that may lead to a need for repeated treatment.

Environmental factors associated with relapse may include:

  • the presence of someone else in the family who uses substances
  • a stressful home environment
  • traumatic events that occur in the home, such as physical assault or criminal behavior
  • having close friends who engage in substance use
  • substance-related content on social media or in marketing
  • peer pressure
  • stress
  • lack of social support
  • availability of drugs or alcohol

All of these environmental factors may be common reasons that someone may need multiple treatment attempts.

The Type Of Treatment Received

There are a variety of treatment interventions used in addiction treatment because no one treatment plan works for everyone.

While evidence-based treatments are typically the most effective, the proper treatment for the patient depends on their individual needs.

Different treatment types may be required for those living with co-occurring mental health disorders and substance use, and those with severe addictions may require more than one round of treatment.

Relapse Prevention Strategies At Spring Hill Recovery

Spring Hill Recovery Center uses a variety of relapse prevention and harm reduction strategies.

These strategies include individualized treatment, co-occurring mental health disorder treatment, and a combination of evidence-based and holistic treatment options.

Individualized Treatment

Spring Hill offers a variety of individualized, evidence-based treatments, including a community reinforcement approach (CRA), motivational interviewing (MI), and cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT).

The treatment options employed in a specific client’s treatment plan are determined by the initial assessment, the client’s preferences, and the results of ongoing assessments during the course of their care.

Co-Occurring Disorder Treatment

A large percentage of people living with substance abuse disorders also have co-occurring mental health issues.

At Spring Hill, we offer a wide range of psychotherapies, evidence-based treatments, and medication management to properly address mental health disorders alongside addiction.

These treatments may include CBT, dialectical behavior therapy (DBT), or eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR) based on the diagnosis.

Evidence-Based And Holistic Treatments

Spring Hill Recovery Center provides a combination of evidence-based care and holistic treatments to ensure that clients are well cared for physically, mentally, and emotionally.

Mindfulness activities, group exercise classes, nutritious meals and so much more are included in our treatment plans to provide the best possible experience for each client.


Spring Hill provides aftercare coordinators to provide patients with supportive services that meet their individual needs after discharge.

Aftercare plans may include outpatient care, community resources, medical appointments, legal assistance, and medication-assisted treatment (MAT).

Ask About Starting Addiction Treatment At Spring Hill

If you or a loved one are seeking addiction treatment, we can help. Contact Spring Hill Recovery Center to learn how we can help you begin addiction treatment.

  1. Cambridge University Press
  2. National Institute On Drug Abuse (NIDA)
  3. National Library Of Medicine: PubMed
  4. National Library Of Medicine: PubMed
  5. National Library Of Medicine: PubMed

Written by Spring Hill Recovery Editorial Team

Published on: February 14, 2024

© 2024 Spring Hill Recovery | All Rights Reserved

* This page does not provide medical advice.

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