Supporting a Loved One Through Relapse Without Jeopardizing Your Recovery

Recovery is the time to focus on yourself, prevent relapse, and learn ways to maintain your sobriety. However, you will most likely make sober friends along the way that are currently in their own recovery journeys. As time goes on and you are having success in your own recovery, a close friend or loved one may experience their own relapse. You may feel inclined to help them but may also be unsure how to do so without putting your own recovery at risk. Helping a loved one through relapse can be a tricky tightrope to walk, but it is possible. By prioritizing your recovery and not pushing yourself past your limits, you can offer support to your loved one without jeopardizing your own recovery. Consider these tips to help you through this challenging situation.

Practice Self-Care

Your recovery comes first, even in challenging situations such as this. You may feel inclined to rush to your friend’s side as soon as you hear about their relapse, but this can potentially put your own sobriety at risk. Even the most seasoned individuals in recovery always run the risk of relapse, so it is crucial to ensure you are in a healthy state of mind and prioritizing your recovery first. It can be hard to take a step back, especially when you know your loved one is struggling. However, you can’t expect to help them if you slip into a dark place too.

Talk to your therapist or counselor about what has happened to begin to manage your feelings in healthy ways. You can also exercise or meditate to help you remain calm and ensure you are stable. Going to a support group can also help you get advice for the situation and how to best handle it in a way that will help you and your loved one. 

No matter what, just remember that this is a temporary setback for your loved one, and it doesn’t mean that their recovery is gone forever. It also doesn’t mean that you are destined for relapse too, and working on maintaining your sobriety will help you be more secure.

Offer Open and Honest Support

Your loved one will be the one most hurt and affected by their relapse. They will most likely be beating themselves up for it and engaging in harmful behaviors that do not serve to get them back on the right track in recovery. A great way to help them during this vulnerable time is to let them know that you are here to support them. Let them know that you are there for open and honest communication in whatever way they need it. They will most likely need to get some things off their chest, and having a support system is the best way to help them get back on track after this stumble. Remember to remind them that relapse does not mean the end of recovery, and they can get back on track to living a happy, healthy, sober life.

Discuss the Next Steps

It is essential to understand that you are not responsible for helping your loved one pick up the pieces after their relapse, especially if doing so puts your own sobriety at risk. However, if you feel secure enough in your recovery and want to, you can help your loved one discuss what the next steps should be. Relapse often means that the person requires further treatment, so it is worth discussing if your loved one should go to a residential or outpatient program to help them get back on their feet. By reevaluating a person’s coping methods and relapse prevention strategies, they can be better prepared to handle a potential relapse in the future. Discussing the next steps can help them reclaim their recovery and get back to where they need to be in terms of healing.

Protect Yourself and Your Loved Ones in Recovery

One of the best ways to help prevent relapse before it happens is through education. Educating yourself and your sober friends can help you all notice the signs of relapse before it occurs. Relapse does not happen overnight; instead, it is a slow process that occurs in stages before the actual physical relapse. By knowing what signs to look for, you can protect yourself and your loved ones in recovery by supporting and holding each other accountable. There is no shame in relapse, and you don’t have to reach physical relapse to get help. Know the signs and keep yourself safe.

Experiencing the relapse of a fellow sober friend can be heart-wrenching. You may be wondering if you can give them the support they need without jeopardizing your own recovery. It is possible, but you need to ensure that your recovery and mental health are protected first. Taking the proper steps to ensure you are in a stable and healthy state of mind can be beneficial for your own recovery and your loved one’s. If you are still struggling to navigate this difficult situation, NorthStar Transitions is here to help. We understand that even after years in recovery, the idea of relapse can be terrifying. We offer alumni support and even have an extensive alumni network to keep you supported in your recovery journey. We can help you navigate knowing how to help your loved one and even connect them with treatment to get them back on their feet. Learn more today by calling (303) 558-6400.

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