When relapse occurs, the most important way you can respond is by continuing to believe in your loved one.

Instead of viewing relapse as a colossal failure, view it rather as a stumbling block on the road to recovery. Here are some steps you can take when a family member relapses:

Identify the trigger

An event, feeling or reminder is likely the catalyst for relapse, but a recovering addict who relapses may need to talk things over to figure out what triggered her. Maybe she had a stressful day at work, ran into an old friend who uses drugs or went some place where she used to get high. Additionally, some triggers are based on emotions, including fear, depression, anxiety, frustration, stress and others. For example, a recovering alcoholic who is depressed may relapse if she goes into a bar and runs into an old friend.

Find ways to avoid future triggers

Once you figure out what triggered a relapse, determine how to avoid those problems in the future. If the trigger was stress, frustration or depression, then perhaps your loved one needs exercise after work to feel better. Meditation or yoga may be a good fit for a recovering drug addict. However, instead of only suggesting these options make sure that your loved one is taking the advice. You could go with him to the gym. If the trigger was running into an old friend encourage him to sever relationships that promote drug abuse. New, encouraging friends can help fill the void left by drug abuse and former friendships. In other words, whatever steps can minimize the risks of relapse, no matter how small, then take them.

Get help if needed

If you need help with a situation, whether it is for your addicted family member, yourself or both, then find it. Take care of yourself during this time, because an addict’s family needs support as well. Know your limits and be self-aware; reach out and find support. Relapse does not mean your loved one will not recover from addiction. Remember, addiction is a lifelong disease that requires lifelong treatment; keep this fact in perspective, and continue supporting recovery with love.

If you have any questions about relapse, then please call our toll-free, 24 hour helpline to talk with one of our admissions coordinators (1-877-345-3370). Our staff will listen to your situation and guide you to the best help for your specific needs.