It’s happening again, isn’t it? Maybe it’s just a gut feeling based on your loved one’s moody and erratic behavior. Or maybe it’s something far more obvious where you’ve found empty beer bottles in your loved one’s bag or actually caught your loved one getting high.
As the reality of your situation sets in, your heart rate spikes. Fear, anxiety and panic quickly take over and you’re left feeling as out of control as the first time it happened.
Your loved one relapsed.
While you were told 40-60 percent of people relapse after addiction, you had hoped and prayed your loved one would beat the odds. Now that your loved one hasn’t, what can you possibly do? Luckily, there’s plenty you can do to help your loved one through this difficult time and keep history from repeating itself.
What to Do When Your Loved One Relapses
1. Remind Yourself that Addiction is a Chronic Disease
Think about other chronic illnesses like heart disease, dementia and diabetes. You wouldn’t get angry and disappointed at your loved one if they suffered from one of those diseases, right? Of course you wouldn’t.
While addiction and mental health disorders have been greatly stigmatized over the years, the truth is they are chronic diseases that require around the clock care and attention to manage triggers and symptoms.
Remind yourself that your loved one’s addiction isn’t their fault. They’re struggling and need your love and support to get them back on track again.
2. Seek Support from a Therapist or Support Group
It’s okay to feel disappointed and angry about your loved one’s relapse. Feelings of guilt and self-blame are even okay, too, as long as they don’t take over your life and paralyze your ability to move forward.
This is why it’s important that you take care of yourself by visiting a therapist or support group. These options give you a safe, judgment-free space to express your feelings and be surrounded by people who understand what you’re going through.
Letting others help you can put you in a clearer state of mind to help your loved one deal with his relapse.
3. Remind Your Loved One that They Can Always Return to Treatment
Your loved one may be looking at relapse as a failure and may believe that treatment doesn’t work. It’s necessary for you to remind your loved one in as loving of a way as possible that addiction treatment is truly his best option for recovery.
If family sessions were part of your loved one’s last treatment experience, use what you learned to create a safe and open dialogue for your loved one to express his frustrations and feelings about addiction and treatment. It’s important to listen to his concerns, but to also encourage him that relapse isn’t a failure and he can always go back for additional treatment.
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4. Work with Your Loved One to Find Out What Didn’t Work in Recovery
After reminding your loved one that treatment is always there when he needs it, try to talk to him about what he liked and didn’t like about his treatment experience. What parts of treatment resonated with him? What parts did he ignore or find to be not as helpful?
This level of communication can help you and your loved one determine what type of treatment is best moving forward. Relapse doesn’t mean his previous addiction treatment program failed; rather, it simply means his treatment plan needs to adjust to him help better ward of triggers.
5. Participate in Sober Activities with Your Loved One
Boredom and isolation are two factors that are constantly trying to coax your loved one back to drug or alcohol abuse. That’s why it’s so important to promote healthy, sober activities for your loved one to get involved with. And you know what’s even better? When you take part in those activities with him!
Go on weekly hiking trips around your home or join a sports league together. Purchase a gym membership and schedule mornings and evenings during the week where you’ll go work out together. If a lot of physical activity isn’t your thing, sign up for a cooking class with your loved one or join an art or book club together.
There’s an endless amount of activities that can grow your relationship with your loved one and help keep him sober!
The Raleigh House Can Help Your Loved One Get Back on Track
At The Raleigh House, we look at relapse as just part of the recovery journey. When it happens, no one is to blame except the disease itself. And when it happens, we are ready to help your loved one get his recovery back on track with evidence-based, dual diagnosis treatment at our wellness lodge in Denver, Colorado.