How Can I Protect My Recovery if My Friend Relapses?

Recovery from addiction is difficult, and many people rely on the support of friends and family to stay healthy and sober. That is why it can be so difficult when a friend relapses while you’re in recovery. You’re watching someone go through what you’ve once been through, perhaps something that you’re still going through. While it’s understandable that you will want to help a friend in this kind of situation, you also need to take care of yourself and protect your own recovery.

Knowing the Signs of a Relapse

First of all, you need to be able to recognize the signs of a relapse when it happens to someone you know. Some of those signs include:

  • Isolating oneself, especially from their recovery community.
  • Romanticizing the past.
  • Neglecting personal hygiene.
  • Deteriorating mental health.

Keep in mind the signs of relapse will differ from one person to the next. After all, no two people will experience addiction and substance abuse in exactly the same way. However, these are some of the more common signs that someone is either using drugs and alcohol again or thinking about it. It’s also important to remember that relapse is a common occurrence in addiction recovery. Drug addiction is characterized by repeated relapse and remission, so do not judge someone harshly if they are unable to stay sober after one or even several rounds of treatment.

Self-Care Strategies

If you have a friend who relapses, you should absolutely encourage them to seek treatment and become sober, but you also need to take care of yourself. Seeing a friend relapse when you’re recovering from your own addiction can evoke feelings of anger, betrayal, and sadness. It might also put your own sobriety at risk, either because your friend is encouraging you to start using again with them or because your hurt feelings might make you want to self-medicate. When this happens, you need to double down on your own recovery efforts and start practicing self-care. Some helpful self-care strategies might include:

  • Reaching out to your own support network.
  • Attending recovery meetings.
  • Seeing a therapist.
  • Getting enough exercise and otherwise staying physically active.
  • Avoiding triggers that might make you want to start using again.
  • Being mindful of your own mental state.

The most important thing when a friend relapses is knowing when to take a step back and look at the situation from afar. You should by no means abandon your friend completely, but you will be of no help to them if you relapse yourself. Take a step back from the situation, engage in other healthy activities that will take your mind off of what is happening, and keep an eye on your friend through mutual friends if you must. You’re close to the situation, and that isn’t always a good thing if it puts your health and safety at risk.

Encouraging Your Friend to Seek Help

One thing that you need to remember during all that is happening is that you should never abandon your friend. They are struggling with a powerful and insidious illness, one that is characterized by frequent relapses. They will likely need help to become healthy and sober again, and you should always encourage them to seek out that help. When you believe that it is safe to do so, reach out to your friend. Encourage them to seek treatment, and remind them that you were once where they are now. In fact, you could be where they are now in some ways.

Despite your own struggles, you are doing your best to stay sober, and they can get back to where you are now and live a healthy life. Relapse may be common in addiction recovery, but that doesn’t make it any less devastating. When you see a close friend relapse, you need to make sure that you are safe and that your own sobriety isn’t at risk, but you should never hesitate to help your friend receive the help they need. As always, there is help available to anyone who is struggling with drugs and alcohol. Contact us any time to learn more about the treatment programs that we have available. Our staff will be happy to answer any questions you might have and help you or your friend find the proper treatment. Call 833-846-5669.