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Millions of Americans struggle with some form of substance abuse disorder, and they all have parents, siblings, spouses, children, or friends who are also affected by the destructive force of addiction.
There’s no doubt that addiction takes its toll on the lives of its victims, but we often forget how much those closest to them suffer as well. If someone you love struggles with a form of substance abuse, it doesn’t matter how far they are on their recovery journey. Relapse will also be devastating.
You were there with them every step of the way. You witnessed the highs, the lows, and the rock bottoms. When they started treatment, you probably felt a great sense of relief. You wanted to believe that the bad times are finally behind you.
As discouraging as relapses may be, they are not uncommon. Around half of those struggling with addiction experience a relapse at some point. This statistic may seem alarming, but it shows your loved one did not relapse because there is something wrong with them. They are not doomed forever. You can look at their relapse as a temporary set-back on their path to sobriety and well-being.
Learn to Recognize the Signs of a Relapse
Relapses don’t just happen randomly. If your loved one had a relapse, it was most probably triggered by something. Maybe they were under a lot of stress at work, or something happened that made them experience extreme emotions they could not cope with. If this coincided with them being in environments where they were exposed to drugs or alcohol, they might have no longer been able to resist the cravings.
If you were not able to predict their relapse, don’t punish yourself. As we mentioned before, when you love someone who got treatment for their addiction, you want to believe that those days are over, and you can look forward to the future. Usually, people who are about to relapse or have already relapsed display certain behavioral cues like mood swings, becoming more withdrawn and secretive, impulsiveness, and physical appearance changes. They may also start missing meetings with their support group or therapist. If you can recognize the onset of a potential relapse, you will be better able to address it and get them the help they need.
Don’t Give Up Hope
As heartbreaking as a relapse may feel, it doesn’t mean that your loved one will never be able to live a happy, healthy, sober life. Rather, you should look at their relapse as a sign that they need further treatment. You can look up rehab centers in your area, for instance, Malibu Rehab, and speak to a dedicated treatment provider.
Your loved one might need to revisit the same type of treatment they had in the past or try a different one that better accommodates their needs. If they previously tried an outpatient program, they may consider an inpatient program at a residential rehab center. A dedicated treatment provider can contact support groups so they can learn from the experiences of other people who had a relapse and feel less alone.
You may also want to join a support group for family members and friends so you talk about and learn ways to cope with the difficult emotions you’re experiencing right now.