Unfortunately, relapse is something that most recovering alcoholics and drug addicts will have to deal with at some point.
According to one study that was done, about two-thirds of all recovering addicts end up relapsing within the first year of their recovery. And while the relapse rate dips to just 15 percent after five years of sobriety, there is still always a chance that relapse could creep up and become a problem for an addict.
With that in mind, you should prepare yourself for relapse and know what to do when someone relapses if you have a loved one who is recovering from addiction. You never know when you’re going to have to spring into action and lend a helping hand.
Here is what you should do if one of your loved ones relapses.
Start by Looking for the Signs of Relapse
Has your loved one relapsed? Before you start trying to help, you should make sure that your loved one has definitely fallen off the wagon.
In some cases, the signs of relapse might be easy to see. You might find empty beer bottles or drug paraphernalia in your loved one’s home.
But it won’t always be that easy. You might have to check for other signs of relapse.
These signs could include:
- Sudden weight loss
- Loss of interest in work and hobbies
- Slurred speech
- And more
If you sense something might be off, there’s a good chance it is. You should pursue your instincts further, as it’s better to be safe than sorry when it comes to addicted behavior.
Ask Your Loved One If They Have Relapsed
Even if the signs of relapse are all there and you’re 99.99 percent convinced that your loved one is using drugs or alcohol again, you should still make an attempt to confirm it with them.
You should sit down with your loved one and tell them you want to speak with them about something. Then, you should ask them point blank if they have relapsed.
You want to be sure not to pass any judgment at this point. You also don’t want to sound like you’re frustrated or angry, even if you’re both of those things.
You want to maintain open communication with your loved one and allow them to speak openly and honestly to you.
The last thing you want is for things to turn contentious. It could prevent your loved one from coming to you for help in the future. So stay calm and let your loved one know they’re in a safe space while speaking with you.
Offer to Help Your Loved One Find Help
If your loved one confirms your suspicions and tells you that they are, in fact, using drugs or alcohol again, you should take it upon yourself to offer to find them help.
Ideally, they will take you up on your offer and agree to check themselves into a facility right away.
But that doesn’t always happen. Sometimes, people are caught off guard and react poorly to someone finding out that they’ve relapsed. It could lead to your loved one storming off and not speaking to you for a while.
Whatever happens, don’t stop trying to help your loved one. At this point, you will be one of the few people who can help them.
Avoid Enabling Your Loved One
While you want to do whatever you can to help your loved one out, you don’t want to become an enabler for them at any time.
An enabler is someone who covers for an addict and enables them to continue using drugs or alcohol. Many times, people don’t even realize they’re enabling an addict.
You might be an enabler if you:
- Make excuses for your loved one’s behavior
- Provide your loved one with money, even if it’s not specifically for drugs or alcohol
- Bail your loved one out when they find themselves in legal trouble
- Refuse to acknowledge your loved one has a drug or alcohol problem
- Allow your loved one to use drugs or alcohol in your presence
Enablers sometimes think they’re helping a person out. But in reality, they’re allowing them to continue using without facing the consequences.
You should learn to set boundaries between yourself and your loved one so that you don’t continue to enable them.
Arrange an Intervention for Your Loved One
If you’ve tried talking to your loved one and found that they simply won’t listen to your pleas to get help, you should consider holding an intervention.
An intervention is when a group of people comes together to let an addict know how their behavior is affecting each of them.
If you decide to hold an intervention, you should consider bringing in a professional to guide things along. You should also invite those who are closest to an addict. This could include everyone from parents and spouses to brothers, sisters, and best friends.
Interventions help shed light on how an addict is having a profound impact on those who love them. They often help open an addict’s eyes to the damage they’re doing.
While interventions don’t always work, it’s a great way to let an addict know that you care and that you just want what’s best for them.
Try to Understand That Relapse Is a Part of the Recovery Process
You might follow all of these steps and find that your loved one still doesn’t want to get the help they need. You might even find that they’re more adamant than ever in thinking they don’t have a problem.
Don’t give up! It’s not easy to deal with someone who is going through a relapse, but it is all part of the overall recovery process.
Think of it as a speed bump in the road to recovery rather than a dead end. As long as you’re willing to continue to work at it, there’s always a chance that your loved one will come around and start to see the light.
Won’t it be great if you’re there when they find it?
Know What to Do When Someone Relapses and Take Action Immediately
Knowing what to do when someone relapses is only half the battle. You also have to take action and go through the steps that are necessary to get an addict the help they need.
Checking your loved one into a treatment program should be your ultimate goal. It’ll allow them to get professional assistance for their drug or alcohol problem.
Read our blog for more helpful tips on dealing with addiction.