Your friend or family member has come a long way on their recovery journey, diligently working with a therapist and sticking to a consistent diet, exercise and sleep routine. That’s why it can be so disappointing if you see signs of a relapse after a prolonged period of sobriety.
Watching a loved one return to drinking or drug use can be painful and frustrating, but don’t give up on supporting them. Here are some actionable steps you can take to respond to a relapse and keep someone you care about on a healthier path.
1. Remember That Relapse Doesn’t Equal Failure
Due to addiction’s chronic nature, relapse is a natural part of many people’s healing process. Substance abuse rewires the brain’s reward center, and these changes take time to reverse. Often, willpower alone is not enough to stay sober. Remember, people living with all kinds of illnesses experience occasional symptom flare-ups, and addiction is no different. Relapsing does not mean someone has lost motivation to take care of themselves and their health. Instead of equating the experience with failure, reframe it as a learning opportunity.
2. Stay Upbeat
Optimism is crucial for supporting a loved one in their goals to make a fresh start. After relapsing, they’ll probably feel discouraged. No matter how sad you may feel, it’s vital to keep a positive outlook. Remind them how much progress they’ve made since they determined to get sober. They’ve probably already completed medical detox, participated in therapy and learned new coping mechanisms. The continuum of care is no longer a mystery, and forging ahead is only a matter of using familiar tools.
3. Recognize the Warning Signs of Relapse
Relapses don’t happen in a vacuum. If you’re observant, you may spot several red flags that could indicate an imminent return to drinking or drug use. For example, your loved one could become irritable, isolated or depressed. They might skip going to support group meetings and decide to hang out with former drinking or drug buddies instead. If you listen closely, you could notice them talking wistfully about active addiction, waxing nostalgic about the fond memories and ignoring all the adverse effects drugs and alcohol had on their life. These are all relapse warning signs.
4. Offer to Help Your Loved One Find Treatment
Relapsing doesn’t mean lifelong sobriety is impossible, but it can signify a need to return to long-term residential rehab. Everyone responds to treatment differently, which is why healing from a substance use disorder isn’t a one-size-fits-all process. Perhaps your loved one had trouble connecting with the therapeutic approaches offered in the initial substance use program. Maybe their stay in rehab was too short to be effective, or didn’t provide the coping skills necessary to lead a fulfilling sober lifestyle. After a suspected relapse, research accredited treatment options and try to find one that can provide the immediate help your loved one needs.
Does Your Family Need an Intervention?
The road to recovery can have many hills and valleys. Still, it’s worth starting the journey to preserve your loved one’s health and happiness.
At Hope by the Sea, we offer successful addiction intervention services from an experienced interventionist. If someone near and dear to you is unable or unwilling to admit they have a drinking or drug problem, organizing a professionally managed intervention could be the step you need to break through the wall of denial and convince your loved one to seek help. Contact us today to learn more about our family-owned California addiction treatment program.