How to Help Someone Who is in Relapse Mode

hand holding hand in support

If you have a friend or loved one who has returned to using drugs and alcohol after completing drug treatment, you can feel devastated and may feel in a state of shock. You may feel bad for them because of all the hard work they put in their recovery has been lost. While relapse is a common occurrence in recovery, seeing someone that you love and care go through immense guilt in shame can be extremely heart wrenching. It is only natural that you want to help support your family member or friend in their efforts to get back on track.

You may feel like you would do anything and everything in order to help your loved one get back on their feet. You may think that by putting their wants and needs ahead of yours it will help them regain their recovery. While your intentions may be good, these sacrifices often have negative impacts on a loved one’s recovery–and it can even make the situation worse. The following tips are ways that you can help someone who has relapsed.


Ways That You Can Help Someone Who Has Relapsed

First and foremost, it is absolutely important to remember that a loved one’s relapse is not your fault. While many feel that relapse may be a sudden event, in reality the attitudes and behavior that lead back to active drinking and drug use occur over a period of time. While you can provide support and encouragement, you must remember that your loved one needs to put in the work to regain their sobriety and work their individual program of recovery.


If you truly want to help someone who has relapsed, you must stand firm and in not only holding addicts accountable for their recovery from a relapse, you must also hold them accountable for their addiction in the first place. For those who relapse, the guilt and shame they feel may cause them to start pointing the finger at others for their slip. You must remind them in a firm but supportive tone that they alone are responsible for their relapse and they must take the appropriate steps to get back on the right track. You shouldn’t try to take their problems on or make excuses for their behavior.



When you are helping a loved one who has relapsed. It is important to provide encouragement that will redirect them to their plan of recovery. This can include suggesting they start working with their sponsor again and become active in attending 12-step meetings or other sober support groups and well as finding some form of outpatient treatment. Once you have urged your friend or family member to reconnect with those people that will help them stay clean and sober, it is important to back away and let them take control.

Avoid Blame

Addiction is not only a highly complex disease, it is also a disease which can forth many visceral emotions. When a friend or loved one backslides into active drug use, you may feel great disappointment and even anger for their relapse. While it is very easy to make them feel guilty, you need to refrain from doing so. You want to neutralize your own emotions and allow them to feel what they are feeling. If they are feeling guilty about their relapse, it may spur them to get help.

Staying Positive

Even though relapse can be extremely discouraging for both you and your loved one, it is important to maintain a positive outlook. As stated earlier, addiction is a complex disease and it may take people multiple times through treatment before they find success. Part of this positive mindset is providing a solid example for loved ones in regards to maintaining health.

For example, if you are going to the gym or some other form of working out, invite them along to take part. While you can’t force them to accept your invitation, letting them know you would like their company is very supportive. Another way that you can be positive and supportive is to create an environment in which a loved one who has relapsed can feel safe. For example, if their addiction was to alcohol you should make your home alcohol free. No matter what the drug of choice, you want to provide an environment that is recovery-based.

Your Support Can Be Key In a Loved One’s Recovery

Relapse can be a disappointment for both you and your loved ones who have worked so hard in achieving sobriety. While it can cause great guilt, with the proper support and encouragement your loved ones can be back on track. If you are looking for ways to effectively support a loved one who has relapsed, call Addiction Information toll-free today or visit our website.

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