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Managing addiction is a lifelong effort; therefore, relapse is always possible during recovery. Although, seeing it as a failure is the wrong approach. Instead, part of recovery is to approach the process with love and empathy for your loved one struggling with substance use disorder. Further, holding space for love and empathy is crucial when it comes to relapse. 

Relapse in Recovery

In relation to recovery, relapse is when someone managing a substance use disorder falls back into their addiction after a period of sobriety or abstinence. While the number can fluctuate from year-to-year, the statistics surrounding relapse in recovery can seem grim at the outset. Recent estimates suggest that more than two-thirds of individuals relapse within weeks to months of completing treatment. 

Even though these estimates may seem bleak, there are successful ways to keep moving forward to prevent relapse. When you learn how to approach your loved one’s relapse with love, empathy, and compassion, the process will become easier for you and your loved one to manage. This is because you will recognize relapse as a teaching tool instead of a failure. Consistently infusing this type of love and positivity into the recovery journey will allow you to start seeing recovery in a new light. 

Why Do People Relapse?

People managing a substance use disorder can relapse into old patterns for a number of reasons. These can include: 

  • Various triggers like holiday gatherings
  • Being surrounded by other people who use substances
  • Loss of a job or daily structure 
  • Depression and anxiety
  • Arguments with loved ones

Even though relapse can be discouraging, it is important to remember that relapsing is just another part of the healing process, and it should not deter you or your loved one. When you look at relapse with love and empathy, you can think of it as evidence that your loved one is ready to move forward and take back control of their life. Relapse can become a strong reason for you and your loved one not to give up.

How to Approach Your Loved One After Relapse

If your loved one has fallen back into old patterns and relapsed, it is important to approach them with as much love and empathy as possible. Those suffering from substance use disorder may already feel guilty, sometimes with feelings of self-loathing and depression bubbling at the surface.

Have an Honest Discussion

Talk to your loved one about the relapse and their struggles openly and honestly. Let them know that you are here to listen. Those managing substance use disorder could feel alone while going through the recovery process. Arguments, yelling, and hostility might cause them to shut down. 

You want your loved one to be honest with you so that you can help them in their journey and find the best possible way to continue on the path of substance abuse treatment. Let them know that they are loved and that you are truly here to help them and listen.

Ask How You Can Help

Relapse does not equal failure, and it is important to let your loved one know that you are here to help them in the best way possible. Keep in mind that this is their journey, so when you suggest different forms of treatment, make sure to discuss them with your loved one and let them know that they are fully involved in the process. 

Track The ‘Wins’

A wonderful way to approach recovery with love and empathy is to encourage your loved one to focus on the positive experiences of every day. A great way to encourage your loved one to do this might involve keeping a journal. Writing down three instances every day where one feels empowered and strong can have a profound impact on their overall mood and outlook. 

Remember: positivity begets positivity, and simply sticking to journaling can be considered a win for the day. Other wins may include: 

  • Being in recovery
  • Sharing feelings
  • Attending meeting
  • Spending time in nature away from negative thoughts

You and your loved one will experience so many amazing things in recovery, and tracking the wins helps reinforce resilience and break the cycle of negativity to move forward.

Make Time for Self-Care

Addiction affects the whole family. Therefore, even though your loved one is managing the addiction, it does not mean that you should neglect your mental and physical needs. During the process, you may experience feelings of: 

  • Grief 
  • Depression
  • Loneliness  
  • Anger 

It is important to make time for self-care practices to ensure your mental and physical health are supported. You may seek a therapist to talk through your feelings or create safe spaces where you can meditate and relax. 

At Lighthouse Recovery Texas, we understand that relapse is a common part of addiction recovery. It is experienced by nearly half of individuals within weeks to months of initiating treatment. How you and your loved one react to relapse is key. While relapse can occur in a number of ways, the best practice for dealing with it is to understand that relapse does not mean failure. Our approach to care involves approaching your loved one with love and empathy after a relapse. It is just as important to treat yourself with love and empathy. Our programs allow families to learn how to manage addiction together. A big proponent involves being gentle with yourself and with your loved one. If your loved one needs help, get help today. To learn more about our programs, reach out to us today and call (214) 997-0367.