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  • Writer's pictureVanessa Guiles

What To Do When Your Loved One Falls Out of Sobriety

Updated: Aug 10, 2023


What To Do When Your Loved One Falls Out of Sobriety

Sometimes, relapse can occur despite comprehensive efforts to stay on the path of recovery. Even with rehab programs and coping mechanisms, there could be triggers that force someone back into substance abuse. National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), up to 60% of people with addiction will experience a relapse.

Seeing your loved one fall back to addiction can be disheartening. Still, this is a part of the journey that you can overcome. This article takes a closer look at relapse and tips on what to do when your loved one fails to stay sober.

Understanding Relapse

A relapse is the most challenging part of recovering from substance abuse. It occurs when an individual returns to drug use after being sober for a certain period.

Please remember that relapsing isn’t a sign of being “weak.” It’s a common mistake fueled by the body looking for a continuation of old patterns.

However, relapse can be dangerous. An extended period of abstinence causes the body to have reduced tolerance to the substance. When a person takes it again at the same amount as before they became sober, it can lead to an overdose and cause life-threatening symptoms or even death. As such, when a person relapses, it must be addressed immediately.

Helping Your Loved One Who Relapses

Learning that your loved one has relapsed can be frustrating. However, how you react can make a difference in their sobriety journey. Here are a few tips to help someone who slips back into their addiction:


1. Avoid Casting Blame

It’s easy to feel angry at your loved one for relapsing. However, negatively criticizing them could only increase their feelings of shame and guilt. Instead, channel your frustration into proactive steps. Recognize that substance abuse is a disease that needs to be treated. Stay positive and focus on supporting your loved one so they can overcome this challenging period.


2. Encourage Open Communication

Almost every problem can be solved with calm, open communication. Talking to your loved one, especially if you think they’re having trouble staying sober, can assure them that they’re not alone.

The key to a good conversation is being calm and respectful with one another. Listen intently and choose your words carefully. Open communication lets you know more about your loved one’s situation, so you can better support them in minimizing the risk of using again.


3. Discuss Treatment Options

A relapse doe not mean that the previous drug rehabilitation program was not effective at all. Rather, the method may need a few tweaks, or the patient may require longer treatment.

Remember, every sobriety journey is unique, and there’s no one-size-fits-all treatment. So, if the earlier regimen did not work, you can encourage them to try again or explore other options. Accompany them to a healthcare professional to re-evaluate their situation and customize a recovery program.


4. Participate in Sober Activities Together

Participating in sober activities can help distract you and your loved one from the frustration of a relapse. It also shows them that you’re ready to exert effort to help them recover while giving them something to look forward to.

Activities can be as simple as seeing a movie or as intentional as participating in support group meetings. Enjoying these things together can also improve your relationship and trust.


5. Recognize Triggers and Urges

Relapse doesn’t happen randomly; most of the time, it’s caused by a combination of triggers. These can be anything from the smell of cigarette smoke or watching a film about alcoholism to social pressure and emotional upheaval.

When these stimuli emerge, the patient may return to their previous addiction or pick up something new. It’s important to identify these triggers and help your loved one avoid them at all costs. Recognizing signs of a potential relapse — such as mood swings, being distant, and lack of communication — also allows you to address and prevent them as they occur.

Support Your Loved One Through Recovery With The Detox and Treatment Helpline

Relapse is not the end; it’s just another obstacle your loved one needs to overcome to enjoy a life of sobriety. The Detox and Treatment Helpline is just one call away if you or a loved one is in need of support after a relapse. Our team of experts can provide educational assistance and guide you in conquering your urges and triggers. Let’s talk! Dial 877-314-2934 to start your recovery journey now!


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