Imagine that a person you love just completed a month-long rehab program. They learned techniques for managing their risky behaviors, but now they are missing their addiction and they relapse. Maybe the person you love has been clean for several years, but something sets them off and they begin using again.

No matter where your loved one might be in their journey to sobriety, relapse is always devastating- for both the person who suffers from addiction and the people that love them. It is important to know that your loved one needs to be accountable for their own actions and they have the choice of shaping their own future. However, often the chronic nature of addiction is a barrier to sobriety for many.

What To Do If Your Loved One Relapses?

People who suffer from addiction have a strong potential for relapsing. In fact, a person who suffers from this disease has a 40 to 60 percent chance of turning back to their substance of choice at some point during their recovery. This statistic seems alarming, but it also can help put into perspective the struggle that your loved one is going through. Letting them know that they are not alone and that there is nothing wrong with them is important.

The aftermath of a relapse can be overwhelming. It is important to know that a relapse does not mean that your loved one is doomed. There are many constructive ways that the setback can be handled. Here are some ways that you can support yourself and your loved one should they relapse.

Take Care of Yourself

One of the most important things that you can do after your loved one relapses is to make sure that you practice self-care. Before you even try to help them, you need to make sure that you have a healthy state of mind. This is often easier said than done. It can be stressful watching your loved one go through pain. You might feel anger and disappointment that your loved one has strayed from sobriety after going through intensive rehab. Use therapeutic activities such as meditating, running, or attending a support group to help you through these feelings. Strengthening your own mental and physical health will help you be more rational, patient, and understanding when you talk to your loved one.


A relapse is disheartening and it is likely that your addicted loved one will feel especially vulnerable. There is a good chance that they will be their own worst critic at the time, dealing with feelings of frustration and regret and possibly hopelessness. It is important to provide them with a support system to help them get back on track. Relapses happen, they are just a temporary obstacle along the way to the goal of long-term sobriety. It is important to make sure that you reinforce that your loved one’s efforts were not in vain and that they need to keep trying.

Treatment Options

A relapse does not mean that they are never going to be sober. The event is simply a warning that the person will need further help in order to maintain their sobriety. This might be in the form of inpatient care once again or it could be done through an outpatient program. Every person will handle addiction in a different way and for that reason, treatment is not as simple as one size works for all.

There are some people who might need to continue with the same treatments for a long period of time before they really see a difference. Other individuals might need to tweak their current programs to better meet their needs. Talk to your loved one about what they want to get out of treatment and suggest complementing the more traditional therapies with some other more therapeutic activities that will help encourage self-discovery. Acupuncture, music therapy, and yoga can all be beneficial.

Engage in Sober Activities

It is important to be mindful of triggers for your loved one. Try to spend time with them in places where there is no alcohol or drugs present. Go to the movies, take a hike outside, have a picnic. Being outside can help boost your mood and any activity that takes the focus away from the use of substances will benefit both of you as well. Enjoying activities together can help heal your relationship with your loved one as well.

It is important to know some of the signs of relapse. Relapses do not randomly happen. There are often cues before someone turns back to alcohol or drugs. If you think that your loved one’s sobriety is at risk, make sure that you talk to them and ask them if there is anything that you can do to help.

SAGE Counseling Omaha

At SAGE Counseling Omaha, our primary focus is on helping you to get the support and treatment that you need as you move forward. We all experience challenges that are often too difficult to work through on their own, and we are here to support you during these tough times.

When you connect with our compassionate counseling team, you can rest assured that you will receive the individualized care that you need. Contact us today. For approved clients, we are able to utilize telehealth services through our HIPAA compliant virtual software.