When someone relapses back into habits of addiction, it negatively affects not only them but everyone around them. Family members and friends may feel disappointed, hurt, frustrated and concerned for their well-being. Seeing your loved one relapse can be devastating but the best thing you can do is provide them with support and compassion.
One thing to understand about a relapse is that it is often a normal part of the recovery process and does not always represent a failure on the part of the addict. It may take people multiple tries until they finally become sober, especially if they have been suffering from a very severe addiction. Although you might feel worried or even upset about their relapse, it does not necessarily mean that they will never completely change their behavior.
If you want to talk to your loved one about their relapse it is important not to be too confrontational, angry or accusing after what happened. They may already be experiencing a lot of feelings of shame and failure about being unable to stay sober. Instead, you should communicate with them using sympathy, compassion, love and support so that they feel motivated to back into recovery.
When your loved one relapses it is crucial both for your own feelings and their recovery for you to forgive them. Even though they made a mistake, you should express your forgiveness to them so that they don’t feel blamed or shamed about what happened. They need to feel comfortable enough to talk to others about what they are going through and not hide their substance abuse again.
You can help your loved one by minimizing triggers, encouraging them to go to twelve step meetings or assisting them to enroll in rehab again. Supporting a loved one who relapses can be challenging but will be better for their long term recovery.