Having a your loved one who has relapsed can be extremely stressful, but what is more difficult is knowing what to say to someone who has relapsed.
There are many things you can say to someone who has relapsed. I’ll start by telling you what not to do: don’t blame them, yell at them, or make them feel guilty about their relapse. And now for the good stuff: here’s a list of some helpful things that might come in handy when talking with your friend/loved one after they have relapsed.
- “Do you want to talk about how you are feeling?”
This should be the first thing to say to someone struggling with addiction. This question is a good way to communicate that you care, but at the same time does not make it feel like there is any pressure on the person needing support. If they are going through an intense relapse, such as with heroin or painkillers, it’s important that they feel comfortable opening up to you about how they are feeling.
It is very understandable for someone going through a relapse to feel intense emotions and not want to talk about their feelings. This person may be using again because they have been hurt in some way or are dealing with an intense internal struggle. It may be important to respect the fact that your loved one needs some space or time in order to figure out how they are feeling and come around to talking about their emotions.
- “Let’s go out for coffee and talk about this!”
It can be challenging to talk about drugs and alcohol with your loved ones while they are using. However, if you have a good relationship with them and want to help them stay sober, it may be beneficial to schedule some “clean time” in which the two of you can go out for coffee or a walk together and talk about what is currently going on in their life.
It can be challenging for someone who is inactive addiction to connect with other people about their struggles, so it may be vital that you develop a strategy to help them start the conversation.
Suppose your loved one is not willing to schedule “clean time” or will not go any further than small talk during their active addiction. In that case, it may be harmful to you to push the issue and compromise your boundaries in order to converse about anything related to drugs or alcohol.
- “I’m here for you.”
If the person relapses into a more severe addiction, it can be extremely helpful to offer your unconditional support.
Your friend/loved one is going through a difficult time in their life, and they need you to be there most of the time. It’s important that you offer your unconditional support. Still, you should also set boundaries and let the person know that if they are using again that their behaviour will have consequences.
If you are good friends with the person and they need your help to stay clean, it is important that you do whatever you have to do to keep them off heroin and/or painkillers.
- “I don’t approve of your actions, but I love you anyway.”
That may sound like a contradiction, but it makes all the difference in helping someone struggling with a relapse.
It’s hard to watch someone you care about suffer, and it can be even harder when that person is the direct cause of your suffering too. If they are using again and this is negatively affecting your life in any way, it’s important that you find a way to tell them how it feels to you without shaming them.
It’s important that you keep the communication line open and do not take things personally, but at the same time, be sure to voice how you feel about their behaviour, so they know what is acceptable in your eyes.
- “Are you connected to a community of sober friends?”
It’s important that the person has an established support group of people who are also trying to stay clean and sober. Not only do they give you somebody to turn to in times of need, but they also support you in your goals to stay away from alcohol or drugs.
In the event of relapse, it is crucial that the person has people surrounding them who can remind them of all their past successes with staying sober. Having other sober friends close by will help make this suggestion easier to follow through with.
so, try asking your friend that
- “Have you tried a new treatment program?”
If someone relapses into a more severe addiction, such as with heroin or painkillers, it may be beneficial to seek help from an addiction specialist who specializes in helping people get over their addiction. They can provide the support that your friend or loved one needs in order to help them get back on track.
In the event of a relapse, it is crucial that they have all the right resources available in case they want to get clean again. Help them out in finding new centers if required. This is extremely crucial. I remember being there for my boyfriend, helping him find centers that could treat opioid withdrawal in west palm beach here in Florida.
Lastly, but don’t forget about yourself!
It can be difficult dealing with addicts who have relapsed, such as with heroin or painkillers, it may be beneficial to have some space from them for a while. It’s always difficult to separate yourself from someone you love, but it’s important to stay firm in your boundaries and avoid compromising yourself or “giving in” to help them out. If they are using again in a more severe way, then support should be given 100% of the time. It doesn’t matter if it is day or night, you should be there for them as much as possible.
You are not alone in this. Just want you to know that it is ok for you to be scared and anxious about the future for your loved ones and yours with them but to believe that there is a lot of healing power in the support you give out. Be strong and stay supportive!