Living a sober life can be an everyday struggle, especially for individuals struggling with substance abuse.
The possibility of relapsing (and re-entering an alcohol and drug rehab program) is always present. While substance dependence is a treatable medical disorder, newly sober individuals sometimes falter and go back to their old and destructive habits. This condition, called a relapse, can prevent a person from moving forward in life.
If you believe that your friend or family member may be on the verge of relapse, you can take steps to support their mission to stay sober. Here’s how you can help:
Identify Triggers for Relapse
The response to the question “Why do individuals relapse?” is unique to each person. A few of the common triggers are:
- Co-occurring mental health conditions, such as anxiety and depression
- Acute life stressors, such as the death of a close friend or family member, losing a great deal of money, and getting fired or laid off
- Listening to someone romanticizing drugs, alcohol, and other addictive substances
When you see your loved one struggling with a relapse trigger, you have the option to intervene. Usually, you can simply acknowledge the difficulty of the situation and provide much-needed support to the person. A few intervention suggestions are:
- Encouraging the individual to renew their commitment to recovery
- Asking the person to attend a therapy session
- Letting the person know that you’re available to listen to their concerns and struggles
If the relapse occurs repeatedly, you may strongly suggest a formal intervention, such as a substance abuse rehab.
There’s no such thing as recovering or staying sober for someone else. While you can provide support and advice, the struggling individual has to be responsible for their recovery. Keep offering gentle reminders, but don’t consistently rescue the person every time they make a mistake.
Get Rid of “Temptations”
If you’re living with someone who’s trying to stay sober, you should remove objects that can trigger a relapse. A few examples include an empty pill, beer, or wine bottle. When you remove these “reminders” from plain sight, you show your loved ones that you’re committed to their journey to sobriety. On top of that, you’re enforcing an abstinence policy for the whole household.
Promote Healthy Habits
Substance abuse recovery should be holistic. That involves the nourishment of the body, mind, and spirit. Given this, help the individual make healthy lifestyle choices, such as:
- Working out regularly
- Getting enough sleep
- Following a balanced diet
- Socializing with people
- Undergoing regular health check-ups or screenings
- Participating in pleasant, productive, and life-fulfilling activities
Encourage Participation in Peer Support Organizations
Individuals who have co-occurring disorders can benefit from joining a peer support group. This suggestion is a smart way of supporting your loved one’s sobriety. A few ways to help you facilitate peer support participation are:
- Learning about the philosophy or mission of the peer support organization — and imparting this information to your loved one
- Adjusting family schedules to support consistent participation in peer meetings
- Attending meetings with local peer support groups with your loved one
These suggestions will aid you in helping your loved one stay sober. When you’re helping another person, always remember to take good care of yourself. If you need to “recharge your batteries,” arrange for breaks or ask for additional support.