What should you do if someone close to you from rehab picks up a drink or a drug? Seeing someone that you have grown to care about or even rely on for support relapse can be devastating. You might feel betrayed or wonder if the recovery program that you have committed to even works at all. Here are some important things to consider when a friend relapses, including several things that you should do and a few things to avoid.

It Is Not You – It Is Them

Addiction is a disease of perception. Too many addicts walk out of drug and alcohol rehab believing they have been “cured” when nothing could be further from the truth. While addiction and alcoholism can be managed with the proper treatment and support, there is no true cure. Without an ongoing recovery program worked diligently on a daily basis, some addicts are doomed to repeat the mistakes of the past. While relapse is not sure to happen during recovery, it does become a part of the story for many addicts.

Rest assured, this has nothing to do with you or the quality of your friendship. This is just one more thing to add to that list of events and people that you cannot control. It can be tempting to take something like a friend’s relapse personally, but a friend’s relapse has nothing to do with you. The best thing that you can do right now is to take care of yourself.

Taking Care of Yourself First

You have probably heard by now that you need to be “selfish” with your recovery. That might not sit well with some, but it is sage advice. What this means is that you need to take care of yourself first or you will not be of any use to others. If you do not stay clean and sober, you will not be available for friends, family, or your career. It is important to focus your attention on your own recovery and not on someone else’s.

When working a recovery program, it is essential to acknowledge your feelings as opposed to reverting to the age-old habit of stuffing or bottling them up. When a friend relapses, you might feel sad, lonely, anxious, angry, or even a little jealous. All of that is okay, as long as you talk about those feelings with other people that can relate and provide you with ongoing support.

Can You Help a Friend Who Has Relapsed?

Speaking of support, you don’t ignore the wounded in recovery. If someone relapses, you can continue to show love and support, although the relationship might change. You cannot help someone who does not want to get better, so avoid preaching, begging, or trying to shame someone back into recovery. It is never a good idea to deprive an addict of his or her rock bottom, so avoid enabling or rescuing your friend from the consequences of a relapse.

The best thing that you can do for a friend that has relapsed is to be a continuing available source of support. You can be the shining example of successful recovery in his or her life. If your friend wishes to speak about a relapse, you may want to remind him or her of options such as seeking help with a drug and alcohol rehab facility.

If a friend or loved one has relapsed, there is always a way back onto the pathway of recovery. Contact us to learn about admissions to one of our caring and compassionate drug and alcohol rehab treatment programs today.

Medical Disclaimer

The Recovery Village aims to improve the quality of life for people struggling with substance use or mental health disorder with fact-based content about the nature of behavioral health conditions, treatment options and their related outcomes. We publish material that is researched, cited, edited and reviewed by licensed medical professionals. The information we provide is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. It should not be used in place of the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare providers.