My Loved One Relapsed. What Now?
A relapse occurs is when a person returns to using drugs or alcohol after a period of sobriety. Here we explain what to do when someone relapses.
Whether it is your son or daughter, mother or father, friend or loved one, watching someone’s life undergo the devastation of addiction is a darkness that few understand. Sometimes we get a glimmer of hope when our loved one finally sees the damage that drugs or alcohol is doing and decides to get treatment.
They made the right decision, and their life, while not perfect, was on a track of progress.
Then it happens. The relapse.
Does Relapse Erase the Recovery?
As awful as a relapse is and how it may seem to be a return to everything that was wrong in the first place, it’s important to remember: relapse is not the end. In fact, it can be a movement forward—it can be redeemed.
As well, If your loved one has relapsed, it is essential to remember that this is not your fault. Addiction is a chronic brain disease, and even the most well-meaning friends and family members cannot control another person’s illness.
That said, there are some things you can do to support your loved one. To help them make the relapse with drugs or relapse with alcohol a step forward as opposed to a fall behind, here are a few tips on what to do when someone relapses.
Ensure They Are Safe
If they are using drugs or alcohol, ensure they are not in a place where they could hurt themselves or someone else.
It’s essential to be understanding and non-judgmental. Many people who struggle with addiction are already hard on themselves. They don’t need you to pile on more shame and guilt.
Avoid Enabling Behaviors
When asking what to do when someone relapses, it’s important we get back to a fundamental behavior: enabling. Let your loved ones know you are there for them but will not enable their addiction. They will suffer the consequences of what has happened. That might mean losing a job, legal issues, even jail time. Unless their life is in danger, a person who has relapsed must be reminded of the devastation that comes with their addiction.
It’s important to set boundaries with your loved one for your sake and their recovery. This means not doing things that make it easier for them to continue using drugs or alcohol.
Communicate With Your Loved One
If possible, talk to your loved one about their relapse and what they need from you. It’s essential, to be honest and open in your communication. Here is more information on how to help someone with an addiction that can benefit in relapse situations as well.
Be There for Them Emotionally
Let them know you love them and are there for them by listening to them and offering encouragement.
Help Them Get Back on Track
If your loved one is willing to seek help, offer to support them in any way you can. This may include going to meetings with them or helping them find a treatment program.
A relapse can be difficult for the person struggling and their loved ones. Try to be understanding and patient as everyone adjusts.
Take Care of Yourself
Dealing with a loved one’s relapse can be emotionally draining. It’s essential to take care of yourself during this difficult time. Schedule time for activities that make you happy, eat healthy meals, exercise, and get enough sleep.
As well, there are support groups for family and friends of people suffering with addictions. These groups are vital for anyone looking for help with healing, boundaries, and support. Al-anon is for alcohol help. And Nar-anon is for friends and family members of someone with a drug problem.
What to Do When Someone Relapses: Get Help
When dealing with a loved one’s relapse, remember that you are not alone. Many resources are available to help you and your loved one through this difficult time. At the Volpicelli Center for Addiction Treatment, we offer medication assisted treatment in our outpatient rehab.
Often, this medication makes the difference in lasting recovery for individuals who simply need that extra help addressing the root cause of their addiction. For information on our medication assisted outpatient rehab, please call us today. Our team will answer your questions and offer guidance for the next step for you or your loved one.