What Should I Do When a Friend Relapses?

A good support system plays a big part in remaining sober. You might have come to rely on social interactions because your recovery depends on it. However, given the current circumstances, you may have to find alternative ways to motivate yourself to maintain your support system.

Perhaps one of the ways you have had success at staying connected and maintaining sobriety is by partnering up with a friend from recovery. The partner system helps you and your friend hold one another accountable. But what happens if your support friend relapses?

Assess the Situation

When a friend from recovery relapses, it can be very hard to grasp. It might leave you feeling vulnerable enough to want to do the same. Just remember that you are in this for the long haul. While your triggers could become harder to deny, before you do anything that could lead to counterproductive behavior, you need to allow yourself the time to process, assess, and plan.

Accept Your Emotions

A strong support friend relapsing can be detrimental to your recovery, leaving you to feel anger, sadness, and fear. It’s okay to feel these emotions—as long as you do not act on them. Sit with your feelings and let them flow through you. Remember to not lash out at your friend by blaming or criticizing them — this situation is hard for them, too.

You know how difficult and important it is to maintain sobriety and avoid relapse. Certainly, your friend did not want to relapse. Realize that the feelings you are experiencing after a friend has relapsed are never an excuse to drink. Negative emotions should never justify drinking, especially in recovery.

Be Supportive

You made a deal with your friend to stick with them through good times and bad. They might have let you and themselves down, but that does not mean you need to give up on them. Instead, use this as an opportunity to exercise your sobriety and help your friend recover from this setback. One relapse does not mean that your friend has succumbed to addiction.

Reach out to them to ask how they feel and where they stand on things. Let them know that you are still here for them by reconfirming your pact with one another. Help your friend create a new plan to help them get back on the road to recovery. Being a leader for your friend can help empower your own sobriety.

Ask for Backup from Other Friends

Connecting with other friends in your recovery can further reconfirm your mission for sobriety. While relapse is not the desired result — and never planned for — sometimes it can be a good way to reassure yourself that you still have a strong circle of friends. They can support you just by being there and help you maintain accountability.

Friends from recovery understand recovery on a deeper level than family and friends who love you deeply and want to help but have never been through it themselves. This understanding with other friends in recovery will help strengthen the bond that you share, as well as your bond with sobriety. You can remind each other of how far you’ve come, and how much more there is to gain.

Take Care of Yourselves

You do not want to lose sight of your goals during this experience. It is important to take time to continue to do the things that help maintain your recovery. Whether it’s mindfulness, meditation, exercise, writing, or another practice, be sure to continue doing them all. If your friend’s relapsing has become so difficult that you can no longer manage your recovery, seek professional help from your therapist.

Talk with them about the struggles you are having with your friend’s choice. If you feel betrayed or disappointed, let them know. Working on yourself will not only help you through this time but also make you a stronger support partner for your friend when they are ready to start again.

Relapse is often part of the recovery process. Support is a give-and-take and you should always be understanding and strong for others who are going through a hard time — but your recovery must always come first. If you start to lose sight of what’s important, remind yourself that you are still sober and tomorrow is a new day. If your friend’s relapse has caused triggers that are leading to strong cravings, ask for help now so you don’t go down the same path.

Whatever you are going through, we can help. Together, we’ll identify your goals and find the exact combination of therapeutic techniques and life skills necessary to meet them. Let’s work together to change your life. To learn more, call us today at (866) 399-6528.