The friendships that are made in treatment and recovery become a significant source of support on your recovery journey. Together, sober friends hold each other accountable and cheer each other on. These key friendships become a powerful component of your sobriety support network.
When one of these friends suffers a relapse it can feel truly disheartening. You may wonder how you could have missed the signs. You may be upset because this friend had pulled away from the relationship before relapsing. But putting aside all the emotions the friend’s relapse stirs up, you may find yourself also feeling vulnerable to relapse as a result.
While it is right and good to let your friend know you are concerned for them and to encourage them to continue moving forward in their recovery, it is also important to protect your own recovery. Learn how to spot the signs of an impending relapse, and how to care for your recovery if a friend should relapse.
Recognize the Signs of Relapse
Unfortunately, relapse is a common occurrence in the recovery process. The nature of the disease is one of repeated remissions and relapses until the point when remission stabilizes. Know the warning signs of relapse, so you can recognize them in a friend, or in yourself:
- Pulling away from your recovery community
- Romanticizing the old days
- Avoiding social connection, isolation and loneliness
- Deteriorating mental health
- Neglecting appearance and hygiene
- Purposely ignoring the warning signs of relapse
Self-Care Strategies for When a Friend Relapses
When a friend relapses it can unleash feelings of betrayal, hurt, and even anger. It is important not to sit in judgment of the friend, but rather to use this event as an opportunity to double down on your own recovery actions. As a result of your efforts, you become a role model and source of inspiration for your friend.
Some ways you can protect your own recovery when a friend relapses include:
- Stay Connected to Your Support Network. Go to recovery meetings, hang with your sober Meetup friends, see your therapist.
- Stay Physically Active. Exercise helps reduce stress and can also improve your sleep quality and mood.
- Practice Mindfulness. Mindfulness helps you stay connected to the present moment, to acknowledge what you are feeling and gain perspective.
- Avoid Known Triggers. Make an extra effort to avoid the situations or triggers that could make you, too, vulnerable to a relapse.
Being there for a friend who has experienced a relapse allows you an opportunity to demonstrate your ongoing support for them. This can strengthen your own commitment to making recovery a top priority, and allow you to set a positive example for the friend and others in your sobriety support network.
Ashley Addiction Treatment, formerly Father Martin’s Ashley, is a nationally recognized nonprofit leader in integrated, evidence-based treatment for substance use disorders and is accredited by The Joint Commission. We offer both inpatient and outpatient programs, holistic addiction treatment, drug detox, relapse prevention plans, family wellness programs and a variety of other services tailored to each patient’s needs. Our driving principle — “everything for recovery” — reinforces our mission to heal each individual with respect and dignity, and reflects on our ongoing commitment to meet new challenges. For information about our comprehensive programs, please call (866) 313-6307.