Addiction 101: How to Help a Loved One Who Relapsed

Seeing your loved one going back to old habits such as alcohol or drugs after getting treatment for his addiction could be very distressing. It might feel like everything your loved one has gone through was for naught because here he goes again, turning to his vices.

It’s natural to want to do all that you can to help your loved one through this immensely trying time. Here’s how you can help.

Be firm and consistent

It’s crucial that you hold your loved one accountable for his relapse and recovery. This is the first step to addressing his relapse and getting appropriate help. Keep in mind that this relapse is your loved one’s battle.

This means that you can only do so much because it’s primarily up to your loved one to change.

Encourage your loved one, but don’t be too pushy

Redirect your loved one to the treatment plan that worked for him originally. Encourage him to go to a support group, see his sponsor or counselor, and if needed, to take some time off and stay in a sober living facility here in Scottsdale, AZ.

Make sure that your home is free from temptation. For example, if your loved one is addicted to alcohol, ensure that your home is alcohol-free to help your loved one avoid temptation. 

Avoid making your loved one feel shame and guilt over his relapse

If your loved one doesn’t feel accountable and guilty, being pushy about might increase the risk that your loved one resist treatment. In cases like this, you should try to neutralize your loved one’s emotions, and not absolve him of accountability and guilt, or make him feel shame and guilt.

Remain optimistic

While relapse isn’t exactly the result you wanted, making sure that your loved one seek addiction treatment again could be extremely helpful to avoid another relapse. That being said, having a positive outlook will benefit everyone involved.

Do not dismiss or deny that there’s a problem

Doing so will just make the issue worse because you’re essentially making excuses for your loved one’s relapse. It is likewise vital that you do not take on responsibility for your loved one’s relapse because that is ultimately his job.

If your loved one is feeling anxious or guilty about relapsing, you can comfort him and empathize, but don’t dismiss his feelings. Feeling these emotions is actually a good thing because it will help your loved one get proper treatment.

Support group in psychotherapist's room

Never push

When you have successfully motivated your loved one to get the support and treatment he needs, it’s time to leave the healing to your loved one. Remember that your “job” is to help, but you have to let your loved one do all the healing – just be there when he needs you.

Lastly, know that in many ways, addiction is like many other chronic conditions that will need extensive, and sometimes, recurrent treatment. Remember that just because your loved one relapses and might require treatment again does not necessarily mean that his treatment didn’t work in the first place.

Never assume that he won’t ever be capable of living a clean and sober life in the future.

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