What If Someone Close To You Relapses

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Someone Close To You Relapses

Relapse is, unfortunately, a part of many addict’s stories. There are a number of reasons why a person relapses. They may be in denial, maybe stress became too great, or there could have been a long string of steps that drew them away from their recovery. No matter what the reason, it can be heartbreaking to find a close friend or loved one back in the depths of their addiction. Depending on the person and their drug-of-choice, the distance to the bottom can be very short indeed. So, what can you really do if someone close to you relapses?


Seek help. No one is saying that you are the sick one in the situation, but when people around the addict seek out groups such as Al-Anon or private counseling, things start to change. The change may be subtle and gradual, but when you start sorting out your relationship with the addict, the better equipped you become to handle the situation. You might, for instance, learn to say no when the addict wants money or some other enabling behavior. Learning to be strong with regards to the addict will help them, too. This may be what is called tough love, but sometimes this is the only sort of love that can help the addict.

Help, Don’t Enable

While it may be unwise to offer the addict unearned money and shelter, particularly when they are not doing anything whatsoever to help themselves, it can be helpful to offer substantial help. That is, let them know that you can drive them to a rehab center or to any place that can offer them help. If they are using intravenous drugs, you might offer resources for clean needles or life-saving naloxone, in case of opiate overdose. One thing that will keep an addict sick is to treat them with moral disdain, so if you must offer help, do so with an eye towards treating an illness. This may help the addict to see the grave, life-threatening nature of their disease.

It is Not You – It is Them

Don’t take it personally. The addict relapses for reasons that are all his own. If they’ve worked the 12 steps, it could be that they left an important item off of their personal inventory and that is nagging them so bad that they resort to drugs to treat their disease. It could also be that they forgot how bad it was and thought they could once again handle their precious drug-of-choice. No matter what, unless you have personally put the drug in their body, you are not to blame.

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