In the following, I can't find the right way to express my meaning for the part in bold:
Studies show that high IQ individuals are more susceptible to drug addiction than the general population, meaning there is a cognition-dependent aspect to substance abuse. While mainstream drug treatment programs are notoriously ineffective in general, with recidivism rates reaching 80 percent or higher, many people believe that for high IQ individuals those programs are even less effective than they are for the general population. Tragically, when an attempt to overcome drug addiction ends in failure, the negative light in which the addict saw himself in the world that made him vulnerable to addiction in the first place is intensified, reducing his value in his own eyes and, consequently, diminishing the incentive to try again. This recursive property makes traditional treatment programs for some addicts outright harmful.
I want to express the meaning that entering a drug treatment program, then failing (leaving the program unfinished or getting high one night with a friend, for example), makes it more likely one will slip back into full blown addiction, while simultaneously making it less likely they will seek help, and even if they do seek help, more likely they will fail again, which, of course, not only repeats the pattern (the recursive part), but intensifies it.
None of these seems exactly right, let alone elegant:
- negative recursive
- negative self-intensifier
- recursively diminishing
- lethal feedback loop
Interestingly, I found the question discussed mathematically here on StackExchange, but still wasn't able to come up with a way to express the idea in English.