top of page
  • Writer's pictureHyphen Group

Supporting Someone if They Relapse During their Recovery

Understanding Relapses

A relapse is when someone with a substance use disorder stops staying sober by partaking in the substance once again. People often think relapse is a sign that someone will start to become habitual users of a drug again. However, if the relapse is addressed immediately, then the chances of stopping its growth is greatly increased.

What Should You Do If Someone Relapses?

It can be frightening and overwhelming when a loved one relapses, regardless of how long they have been in recovery. But do not allow such fear to impede you from showing your loved one all the encouragement and help they will require. If someone you care about had a relapse, you can do things to help their recovery go more smoothly. Here are some helpful suggestions:

  • Educate Yourself

You can help your loved one by learning the signs of relapse, so you can notice them sooner, offer support, and get them into therapy before the relapse worsens.

  • Identify Triggers

If you know what sets off your loved ones, you can keep them from being exposed to it or help them get through it. If bars make them want to drink, you can help them find another place to hang out, like a coffee shop.

  • Offer Your Support

A support network is very important for getting better. If your loved one knows they can count on you for help, they will be much more likely to go back to treatment after a relapse.

  • Remain Positive

A positive attitude will help the person you care about feel supported during this challenging time. Reiterate to them that relapsing is a common part of getting sober and that they can get sober again.

  • Find Professional Treatment

If someone you care about is having a relapse, getting them into a professional treatment center can help take some of the weight off their shoulders. Being aware of professional treatment plan options is always wise to have on hand in order to speed up the process of recovery in the chance a relapse happens.

  • Encourage Support Groups

Support or therapy groups are a great way for your loved one to meet others who have been through the same struggle. They are also a great way to keep someone accountable and stop them from relapsing.

  • Enjoy Sober Activities Together

Someone who used to be addicted may need to find new things to do now that they have more free time. Healthy activities should be greatly encouraged, such as hiking, yoga, and meditation. These hobbies are good for your physical and mental health and can give your loved ones recovering from addiction a healthy way to spend their time.

  • Set a Healthy Example

Setting a healthy standard for a loved one who has relapsed is one of the best ways to help them. Take care of yourself during this time and do things that are good for you so your loved one can learn from how you act.

  • Open a Line of Communication

You should talk to your loved one about how you feel to show that you care and understand their situation. Be careful not to blame them nor preach to them, but let them know how this makes you feel and that you are here for them if they need help. Your loved one may be more likely to get help for their relapse if they know how you feel about it.

What to Do If Someone in Long-Term Recovery Has a Relapse

The method to help someone who relapses after being sober for a long time should be similar to how treatment is offered when a relapse happens early in treatment. Everyone in the family should be careful to follow the above recommended steps. Having this in mind, it is important to know that there is good news and bad news for those who relapse after a long-term recovery. The bad news is the person likely has less of an ability to handle the substance after such a long time of sobriety. What this means is the possibility of overdosing. The good news, however, is they have access to their recovery tools and community-based groups that have been developing during their recovery.

What to Do When Someone Denies That They Have a Substance Use Disorder

If you think someone you know is in denial about their drug or alcohol use, try to be understanding and helpful. If they still refuse to confront the fact that they have a drug problem, then try the back-door approach. The back-door approach suggests to a loved one that they get help for a different medical or mental health problem. For example, if someone has a history of depression, you might ask if they would be willing to see a counselor in the hopes that drug use will come up in the session. Families and couples may also go to family therapy to deal with stress and communication problems, so even suggesting therapy that includes yourself might be what is needed for your loved one to be honest with themselves.

When to Get Professional Help

Some signs to determine if professional help is needed are as follows:

  • Disinterest in hobbies or passions

  • Denial when confronted by friends and family

  • Withdrawal from friends and family

  • Absences or poor performance at work or school

  • Hostility when asked about substance use

  • The appearance of mental health symptoms after treatment

  • Lack of self-care, such as bad hygiene

  • Staying out at bars or parties

Even though not all of these signs mean a relapse, it is important to be aware of them. Awareness of these issues can be what is needed to reach out to a professional to further confirm if your concerns are valid.

Our program at Caledonia Recovery homes provides all the amenities and tools our clients need to experience a complete recovery and purpose-filled life. Contact Us at (844) 738-9848 or visit our contact form:

1 view0 comments

Recent Posts

See All


bottom of page