How to Cope when a Spouse or Loved One Relapses


The prospect of a close friend or family member entering into alcohol rehab in Kent isn’t exactly pleasant. Nevertheless, it represents perhaps the single most pivotal step on the journey toward their long-term recovery. Modern rehabilitation services have the potential to change lives in the most incredible way, empowering individuals to take full control of their future. But at the same time, even the most outstanding rehabilitation services cannot take full control over the actions and inactions of patients following their departure.

Relapse is a subject those going through the recovery process and often their families alike often prefer not to discuss. They believe that by pretending it isn’t an issue and is something they don’t need to think about, chances are it won’t affect them. Unfortunately, burying your head in the sand is one of the best ways of opening the door to relapse.

The key question being – what can you do if your own spouse or loved one relapses? When it seems as if all efforts have failed and come to nothing, where can you turn and what should you do?

Accept you aren’t alone

Well, first of all you need to acknowledge the fact that not only are you not alone in your plight, but that relapse is a nearly as uncommon as you may think it is.  In fact, studies have shown that somewhere in the region of 40% to 60% of alcoholics will during the recovery process relapse to one extent or another.  Nevertheless, the vast majority of those that do relapse then go on to make outstanding recoveries. What makes the difference is how the situation is handled – some plummet into despair spirals, others see it as a challenge to address proactively. The course of action you take will make a big difference.

Ask the question – why did it happen?

Contrary to popular belief, relapse doesn’t just simply happen for no reason.  It’s not as if a recovering alcoholic on the road to recovery and doing fantastically suddenly thinks “I’ve got a great idea, I’ll go and ruin everything.” It just doesn’t happen like this.  Instead, the person in question along with their support network – i.e. family and friends – need to determine what went wrong and why it went wrong.  It may not be a particularly pleasant process, but just as soon as you pinpoint what it is that went wrong, you’ll be in a much better position to ensure that it doesn’t happen again, next time around.

Continue studying the subject

Education and information could not be of greater importance when it comes to battling any kind of addiction. As is the case with most things, the more you know about a subject, the better the position you will be in to help and advise.  If you do not fully understand addiction and what’s involved in the recovery process, you cannot realistically expect yourself to be able to offer beneficial support along the way. You may have no idea what they are going through, the problems they are experiencing or the challenges they face. Even if you know the person inside out, this doesn’t mean you know anything about the subject or the recovery process they are currently going through.

Think about relapse triggers

The kinds of triggers that can increase the likelihood of relapse will always differ significantly from one person to the next. Nevertheless, there are certain universal triggers that are enormously powerful and should be avoided at all costs. Perhaps the single most prevalent example is boredom – the reason being that boredom can lead to anxiety, depression and even both physical and mental illness. Whatever it is that could potentially increase the likelihood of the individual in question relapsing, it is something that needs to be avoided, or entirely eliminated if possible.

Ask the experts

Last up, never forget that the involvement of the professionals does not come to an end when an initial course of rehab has been completed. Quite to the contrary, professional counsellors and advisors deal on a daily basis with more recovering addicts that have a relapsed than those going through their first course of treatment. There will always be options on the table and avenues to explore that you yourself may not have considered. Bringing in a third-party professional to offer support and advice during these difficult times can be incredibly helpful, not to mention reassuring.




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