Dealing with Possible Relapse of a Recovering Loved One

Recovering from a drug or alcohol addiction is tough. Having spent a long time relying on a substance, it can be difficult to give it up. Those who are successful in recovery are those who are committed to the programme and who want to live a clean and healthy sober life.

However, it is not always easy to stay on the right path in recovery, no matter how much one wants to. For many recovering addicts, relapse becomes a part of the process. Some people need that slip up to reassure themselves that they actually do want to live a sober life. Some find that it is only when they run the risk of relapse that they realise how much they do not want to live the rest of their lives a slave to addiction.

Watching Out for a Slip Up

The risk of relapse is always present for recovering addicts, so loved ones should be aware that this can happen. It is also important to remember that a slip-up does not have to mean a full blown relapse and a return to the bad old days.

A small slip is common in early recovery but it can be prevented from happening by being alert to the signs. An obvious warning sign is the recovering addict starting to feel sorry for him/herself because of being unable to ‘have fun’. If you have an addicted loved one who starts reminiscing about the old times when they used to enjoy a drink or drugs, then you need to be on your guard.

Another warning sign could see your loved one wondering if he or she really is an alcoholic or drug addict. You may notice that they are starting to question whether they could have a drink or take a few pills without any effect. If you notice signs like these, you need to take action.

What Can You Do?

If you notice that your loved one is displaying dangerous signs that could indicate a possible relapse, you should talk to him or her about it. If your concerns are instantly dismissed, try talking to the person’s counsellor or sponsor. Offer support and advice and try to get your loved one involved in sober activities that will show him or her the benefits of sober life and how it is possible to have fun without relying on drugs or alcohol.

What to Do If There Is a Relapse

You may find that even if all the signs are there and you are alert to them, you still cannot prevent your loved one from relapsing. It is very frustrating for family members to watch their loved one relapse, especially when things had been going so well. It feels as if all the hard work and effort were for nothing.

You may be angry and resentful towards your loved one, but you need to fight the urge to vent your anger as it will not do either of you any good. There is no harm in telling your loved one how disappointed you are but do so in a calm manner. If you start shouting and screaming, expect him or her to react in a similar manner.

All you can do at this stage is reason with the individual about the damage being done to the family as well as his or her health and finances. You may find that your loved one is already disappointed about relapsing and may want to get back on track again.

Get Professional Help

If you are unable to reason with him or her, try calling a counsellor for advice. You may want to try an intervention to encourage him or her to seek treatment again.

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