Many recovering drug users experience a relapse at some point during their recovery. This is not a time for disappointment, rather, it is a time for you to figure out how you can help them. In this article, we’re going to talk about how you can help someone who just relapsed.
Understanding the Relapse
The first thing for you to do is to try to understand the relapse. This could be difficult if you’ve never used drugs before, but it’s important to try.
Recognize that a relapse doesn’t always mean that the drug user wants their habit to start up again. Relapses are usually the result of cravings, and cravings can cause serious physiological and psychological symptoms that can be hard for a user to maintain power over. Cravings are the biggest barrier to success.
A relapse might also mean that the recovering addict is struggling with a psychological problem. In many cases, relapses are caused by the same mental health problems that led someone to use drugs in the first place. If these problems aren’t addressed, then no amount of rehab is guaranteed to keep someone sober.
Before proceeding, it’s important to remember that this is the other person’s battle. You can support them as much as you can, but if there’s still something that they need to learn, being overbearing can actually accentuate the problem.
Reaching Someone After a Relapse
If the recovering user is open and honest about the relapse, then this is a good sign. This means that they are already aware of the problem and willing to work to ensure that it doesn’t happen again.
Approaching a user who is trying to be secretive about their relapse can be much more difficult. You will have to tread carefully.
- Make sure that you approach them in a manner that shows you are concerned and compassionate. Don’t allow yourself to make any judgments or assumptions.
- Let them know that you are there to talk with them about any emotional issues that they might have — having someone to talk to can make users less likely to turn to drugs to manage their issues.
- Provide alternatives. Are they lonely? Offer to hang out more. Do they seem bored? Encourage them to join you in your hobbies and activities, or help them find some of their own.
- Encourage them. Remind them of how well they were doing, and remind them of the reasons that they wanted to get sober in the first place.
- Set an example. Show them that healthy living really does have benefits. This can be particularly effective if you have also struggled with addiction in the past. Share with them your experiences of addiction, let them see for themselves how much happier and healthier you are now.
It can be difficult watching someone go through a relapse. The most important thing to remember during this time is that they’re still human.
Treat them with love and compassion, and provide as much support as you can without being overbearing. This is the best way to encourage them to stay sober.
If it’s necessary, consider getting them to go through treatment.