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When it comes to recovery from addiction, maintaining sobriety is an ongoing journey. Maintaining the effort to avoid an alcohol or drug relapse (when someone in recovery returns to the addictive substance or behaviour) is a key part of the abstinence process. But despite everything a relapse may occur.

If you or your loved one has had an alcohol or drug relapse, there are steps you can take in the short and long-term to help you return to sobriety and guard against future relapses.

What to do immediately after a relapse

  • Consider a detox – if you’re having withdrawal symptoms and struggling with the after-effects of relapsing, consider getting in touch with a professional addictions treatment provider, who can advise you on undergoing a detox for alcohol or drugs. Always consult a medical professional before detoxing.
  • Reach out for support – be it via professional support, friends and family, or a dedicated recovery group like Alcoholics Anonymous (AA), Narcotics Anonymous (NA) or Cocaine Anonymous (CA). A strong support network is vital for your recovery.
  • Avoid triggers – if you’re aware of what might have caused you to relapse, try to avoid coming into contact with it in the short-term. It might be certain people who are applying peer pressure, or certain social scenarios that are leading to you using or behaving in line with your addiction.

Understand why your relapse happened

Life’s daily responsibilities and routines are full of potential pressures that can put anyone’s wellbeing under strain. When can happen to people in recovery.

Working on your weaknesses around drugs, alcohol or other addictive behaviours is central to initial treatment. Even with this awareness, those old cravings can sometimes feel too powerful to resist.

It’s important to be aware of these risks, especially in the early stages of recovery. Take the time to think through the underlying reasons for the relapse – you can then take steps to guard against those causes in the future.

Potential triggers of relapses

  • Excessive stress
  • Negative life events like losing or job or a loved one
  • Lack of social support or loneliness
  • Mental or physical health issues
  • Peer pressure

Acknowledge and be open about what has happened

It is crucial to have open conversations and be honest about what has happened and how you are feeling about your relapse. You’ll feel instantly better by unburdening yourself and opening up the lines of communication.

If your loved one is the one in recovery, let them know that you’re available to talk and that they have a safe space in which they can process any important emotions. Empathy is very important and whilst it can be difficult to resist forcing the discussion it is vital that your loved one knows they can be open with you.

Contact Life Works Today

To discuss how the Life Works team can help to support individuals and families dealing with alcoholism and for further information on treatment and rehabilitation programmes, please call: 01483 745 066 or click here to book a FREE PRE-SCREENING ASSESSMENT.

Know how to approach the conversation

For those supporting loved ones in recovery, when the person is ready to talk, meet in a private place and listen to what they have to say. Avoid adding to their guilt, listen, and don’t minimise their feelings.

If they admit to feeling bad about what happened, you can take this as a positive sign – it means they probably aren’t in denial and should be more willing to enter into treatment if needed.

Encourage their progress by reminding them of how far they’ve already come, but be sure to also express how you feel about the situation. This will help them to see the effect of their drug or alcohol addiction on those around them. You can do this in a way that is non-accusatory, by starting sentences with phrases that focus on you rather than them, such as:

  • “I’ve been worried that…”
  • “I feel like...”

Avoid enabling addictive behaviours

Although it is important to be supportive and not react negatively, you can support your partner without minimising the reality of their relapse. Enabling their behaviour can be equally as damaging as condemning it.

Show them that you are there for them without doing anything that might contribute to them relapsing again. This includes things like:

  • Lending money to them
  • Calling their workplace for them when they’re unable to attend
  • Making excuses for them if they cross agreed boundaries

Focus on learning from mistakes

Central to moving forward with confidence should be the idea of learning from past mistakes. Going over why you returned to your addiction can lead to constructive steps and actions you can take to prevent future relapses - particularly if they’re related to a trigger you might face again.

Relapsing can teach you a lot about the pitfalls of recovery, the warning signs to be aware of, and managing day-to-day challenges in the future.

Prioritise self-care – for you and them

A common cause of relapsing is an increase in strain on that person's mental health. The stresses and anxieties of normal life can become too much - especially if a negative life event (such as bereavement or job loss) occurs.

To ensure this doesn't lead to a relapse, it's important you engage in regular self-care. Eat and sleep well, exercise regularly and try relaxing with meditations or breathing exercises.

For those offering support to loved ones in recovery, looking after your mental health is just as important as those in recovery. Engage with some of the things listed above and put yourself in the best possible place to support a loved one who has relapsed.  

Help someone to get treatment

With the help of specialised addiction treatment, many people recover from their struggles and live fruitful lives in sobriety. At the Life Works treatment centre, our experts have helped many people to move forward with long-term abstinence, enjoying a more fulfilling way of life with the ability to face their triggers and reduce any withdrawal symptoms.

We offer a free pre-screening assessment, where we can learn more about your situation and give you the chance to ask questions about potential treatments at Life Works. Addiction treatments include detoxing therapy, and other therapeutic treatments on a residential (inpatient), outpatient, or day care basis.

Use the information below to get in touch with Life Works and start your journey to recovery.

How Can We Help You Today?

If you would like more information on Life Works alcohol rehab and detox programmes, please call: 01483 745 066 or click here to book a FREE PRE-SCREENING ASSESSMENT.

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