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How To Endure the Relapse of Someone Close to You

How To Endure the Relapse of Someone Close to You

Understanding how to view a loved one’s relapse can help you remain supportive during this time of need

Relapse can happen to anyone in recovery; in fact, nearly 40-60% of recovering addicts experience it at some point. For many people, it is simply part of the journey, neither a failure nor a sign that professional treatment did not work. Indeed, many experts believe relapse is a stage in the addiction cycle, that substance-abuse disorders require more than one rehab experience.

People who relapse benefit most from friends and family members who know how to promote recovery. If your loved one relapses, the first step is to understand what not to do, enable. Enabling means helping in such a way that you perpetuate the problem, typically by encouraging negative behavior. The following behaviors are common ways to enable an addict:

  • Trying to find her a job
  • Paying her rent
  • Taking over her responsibilities, such as childcare
  • Making excuses for or dismissing irresponsible behavior
  • Overlooking violations
  • Posting bail

Enabling removes the natural consequences of drug abuse, thereby robbing users of incentive to change. For this reason, it is inadvisable to offer your relapsed loved one some help. Showing empathy is always appropriate, but making excuses for his drug or alcohol abuse can prevent him from taking responsibility for his choices and behaviors.

Furthermore, avoid these additional mistakes when a loved one relapses:

  • Preach – Do not make it your mission to judge or lecture your friend, particularly about what she should do next. Preaching at her will only annoy her and possibly even distance you from her.
  • Take it personally – Your friend’s struggle has nothing to do with you. You may feel guilty or even angry that you could not help—or even “save”—your friend, but remember that there is nothing you can say or do to keep someone sober.
  • Let it hurt your recovery – 
No matter how painful it is to watch someone lose his serenity, try not to let it affect yours. Do not blindly follow anyone’s lead with something as important as sobriety.
  • Get discouragedResist the urge to assume the worst about your friend’s recovery. Plenty of people relapse and try again, so, for your sanity, try not to worry too much.

Lastly, stay present. It can be difficult to watch someone self-destruct, but remain in her life in spite of the pain. Relapsing can be incredibly lonely and scary, so, if your friend reaches out for a sober solution, then you want to be in a place to help.

Help for Addiction to Prescription Drugs

If you or someone you love struggles to stay sober, then know that help is available. Admissions coordinators at our toll-free, 24 hour helpline can guide you to wellness. Do not go it alone when help just one phone call away.

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