Early recovery can be a difficult time for many, if not most addicts.
Learning how to support an addict who has relapsed is an essential part of early recovery. Drugs and alcohol, or rather our use of drugs and alcohol were but a symptom of an internal problem. This means that using or drinking was not actually the problem, but in reality, our solution. When this solution is taken away, life doesn’t magically get better for addicts. In fact, it typically gets worse. We are no longer medicated and do not know how to deal with daily living. That is why a good recovery program is absolutely crucial. Through treatment centers that offer residential treatment or outpatient programs (IOP), addicts can begin learning how to live a life that doesn’t involve substance abuse. For some of us, this can be an extremely difficult process. If an individual started using drugs at a young age, it is quite possible that they didn’t really develop much needed life skills and coping mechanisms, but instead turned to a quick fix to change how they felt. It can be difficult, but it can be done successfully. Treatment programs that offer addiction education, individual and group therapy, relapse prevention, life skills training, 12-Step meetings, etc. can be an incredible tool to help the addict overcome their problems. Some offer family programs that are designed to teach the family how to support an addict who has relapsed.
Ideally, every addict or alcoholic that entered treatment would complete it successfully, and go on to live happy and fruitful lives, the first time around.
The reality is that some of us don’t make it on the first try. This doesn’t mean that we don’t care or that we want to hurt the people who love us. It also doesn’t mean that we don’t want to be recovered from this disease. Most importantly, it doesn’t mean that we aren’t trying. Some specific drugs can be harder to recover from, due to their physically addictive properties. Addiction is such an insidious disease. It will tell me that I can just do a little, or that I can drink, so long as I don’t use drugs. It might even tell me that I can handle a little now that I have been clean for a couple of months, or now that I know more information than I knew before I tried to get clean this last time. The disease of addiction is a trickster. Individuals have to learn how to identify that wrong thought and avoid the pitfalls of early sobriety. Some of us may fall, but we can get back up, and we can finish this race.
Here are some examples of how to support an addict who has relapsed:
- Be supportive, and try not to judge, push, or blame the addict. Chances are that they are feeling shame already.
- Don’t try to fix them or the situation, how to support an addict who has relapsed is more about guiding them back toward their original recovery plan and try to do this without nagging; more so make a suggestion.
- Be sure to set personal boundaries, when it comes to situations involving money, etc. It is easy to enable an addict, and it is easy for us to manipulate the people in our lives. This is not helpful to the addict or the loved one, and only causes more problems. When you enable an addict you’re not helping, you’re hurting.
- Live your life and take care of yourself. There is only so much you can do for an addict who is struggling with early recovery and relapse issues. By taking care of yourself, you can ensure that you stay healthy, no matter what happens. You cannot control what the addict does, but you can control your own well being.