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What to Do When Someone Relapses

What to Do When Someone Relapses

Millions of people struggle with substance abuse daily. Day in and day out, both young and old, fight against cravings, stress, and other relapse triggers. Addiction is a chronic or progressive disease that doesn’t have a cure but can be treated with the right kind of treatment and support. Unfortunately, relapse is a common part of addiction recovery for many people, and it can be especially difficult to cope with if your loved one is the one who’s relapsed. 

 If you’re currently in this situation or want to be prepared to help your loved one, below are some tips on what to do when someone relapses.  

Relapse Definition 

Recovering from a drug or alcohol use disorder is a process that takes time. Relapse may not occur, occur only once, or even occur multiple times as a person gets used to a sober lifestyle. While a common part of recovery for many, it can take a toll on the person’s health and overall progress.  

When it comes to addiction, relapse refers to returning to drug or alcohol use after a period of abstinence. Reasons why people relapse include stress, work, mental illness, social or economic problems, social rejection, and challenges in personal relationships.  

Much like dependent drug behaviors, the process of and reasons for recovery can be personal. While relapse can be discouraging, it should not be a sign of weakness or failure but rather an area that needs improvement.  

Our drug rehab in Massachusetts offers an alumni program to help clients who have completed treatment at our facility avoid relapse. We give them a safe space to talk about any struggles they’re experiencing and find healthy ways to cope.  

How to React When A Loved One Relapses 

Knowing what to do when someone relapses is part of the long-term recovery plan. Offering your support in recovery is key to helping the person feel secure and able to stay sober. Below are some tips that can guide you on what to do when a loved one relapses.  

  • Be supportive: While this might seem obvious, the first and most basic step to helping someone recover from relapse is to show your support. Be mindful of your reactions and your words. Avoid making them feel guilty or ashamed. Instead, remind them that this is just a bump in the road, and they can get back to a good place with help.  
  • Avoid codependency and enabling: Sometimes your efforts to support an individual could actually enable their addictive behavior. Enabling is characterized by making excuses for the individual, lying to them, and taking the blame for their actions rather than allowing them to experience the repercussions of their drug or alcohol use. With enough enabling, there’s a possibility that you might rely on the person to rely on you, which can create a nasty cycle of codependent behavior. 
  • Avoid emotional outbursts: As hard as it may seem, yelling at the person, using hurtful language, or pointing a finger at them is not helpful in times of relapse. While the person may require tough love, avoid talking down to the person, as this could further discourage and push them further into drug use. 
  • Identify triggers: One of the best ways to address relapse in a loved one is to identify what triggered this behavior. Keep in mind that relapse is rarely the result of a singular event. Rather, it’s the manifestations of multiple situations and experiences the person has been exposed to over time. Addiction relapse triggers refer to the people, places, and things that encourage substance use, so speak with the person and backtrack through their recent behavior to determine what led them to this point. 
  • Be patient and empathetic: Addiction is a chronic disease that doesn’t have a cure. Like asthma or any other disease in which a person’s symptoms can relapse or reoccur, sobriety requires continuous care and support. Therefore, it’s important to practice empathy and patience, especially when a loved one relapses. Having empathy will limit the chances for anger and sadness following a relapse and instead motivate the individual to return to a good place.  
  • Seek further treatment and support: In some cases, relapse is not as simple to bounce back from. Relapse is usually a sign that a person needs renewed focus and improvement in some area of their recovery. Whether it’s letting go of toxic friendships or avoiding certain places, reaching out for professional support can help the individual get back on their feet. Our Massachusetts rehab offers various drug and alcohol treatment programs, addiction support groups, and even telehealth addiction services to help individuals who have returned to drug or alcohol use after being sober get clean again. 

Begin Your Recovery  

Knowing what to do when someone relapses on drugs is information that’s developed from professional addiction treatment and support. To get to a place of sobriety, you have to take that first step.   

If you or someone you care about is struggling with drug or alcohol use, our facility can help. Our Boston addiction treatment offers substance-specific care that addresses both the physical and psychological factors of addiction recovery. From learning how to cope with cravings to rebuilding relationships, our specialists work closely with clients to prepare them for sobriety.  

For more information about our Massachusetts addiction treatment services and how to get started, call Banyan Treatment Centers today at 888-280-4763 


Related Reading:  

The Kindling Effect: When an Alcoholic Relapses 

What to Do After a Relapse 

Alyssa, Director of Digital Marketing
Alyssa, Director of Digital Marketing
Alyssa is the National Director of Digital Marketing and is responsible for a multitude of integrated campaigns and events in the behavioral health and addictions field. All articles have been written by Alyssa and medically reviewed by our Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Darrin Mangiacarne.