Drug addiction is tough, and drug recovery is even tougher. When it comes to drug addiction in loved ones, especially in our own kids, we want to believe that treatment will solve everything. That they will go to rehab, get cured, and never look back.
Unfortunately, that’s not always the case. The truth is that 40 to 60 percent of addicts will relapse at least once during their recovery, often within the first year of sobriety. There are several reasons why this happens and the more friends and family member learn about the obstacles recovering addicts face, the better they can assist with the addict’s recovery.
As part of the recovery process, your loved one might need to sever ties with old friends and acquaintances, especially if they played a part in his addiction. This can lead to a sense of isolation because while the old friends might be a bad influence, it can be difficult for your loved to cultivate new friendships – especially if the new friends don’t know about his history of addiction. Additionally, relationships with family members could be strained, leading to an even deeper sense of isolation. This disconnectedness from others could lead your loved one to return to those old bad relationships and to drugs and alcohol.
One option is for the friends and family to attend counseling to learn how to interact with the loved one after recovery, and to help heal any old wounds. Another option is for your loved one to enter a transitional living situation.
Programs like Tucson Transitional Living allow people in recovery to live in a group setting with others their age who are also going through recovery. These programs also offer family workshops to help repair damaged family relationships. As a result, your loved one will have the social support he needs to stay sober.
Stress is the most common cause of relapse. Rehabilitation programs do offer some stress management training, but once your loved one leaves the relatively safe confines of the rehab program, she might have a difficult time putting those theories into practice. Although stress is the biggest culprit, it’s not the only one; getting broadsided by an emotional situation, even a positive one, can push someone in recovery over the edge.
For example, your loved one might be worried about returning to school for fear of having to repeat a grade. When she contacts the school she discovers that the school is willing to let her graduate on time if she attends regular meetings, does extra credit, and maintains a certain GPA. She could be so excited at the good news that she decides to celebrate with her favorite drink; conversely, she could also be so anxious about the tasks she has to complete that she takes something to calm her nerves.
You can’t control your loved one’s reaction to heavy emotions. In many cases, the best thing you can do is let her know that you have her back, and help her find ways of coping with the emotions without using drugs. In the example above you could offer to take her somewhere without drugs or alcohol to celebrate. You could also offer to help her complete her tasks, within reason.
Exposure to Drugs or Alcohol
One of the most common ways recovering addicts are exposed to drugs is through prescription medications.
For example, Philip Seymour Hoffman rehabilitated in his 20s and was sober for over 20 years when he started abusing pain medication, possibly as a result of a prescription for an injury.
In some cases your loved one might be able to request a non-narcotic alternative, but there might be other times when the only option is a drug that could trigger a relapse.
Another scenario is where your loved one knowingly ingests a mind-altering substance, believing that they can handle it. This could be prescription medication, alcohol or an illicit drug. It could be the substance that they were originally addicted to, or some other substance that starts a new cycle of addiction.
You can’t keep your loved one in a bubble, but one way to reduce the risk of exposure is to avoid having mind-altering substances in the house. If you must have them, like prescription medications, keep them under lock and key. If your loved one has been prescribed narcotic medications, talk to his doctor about alternatives or, suggest your loved one do so if he is an adult.
If you suspect that your loved one has relapsed, do not lose patience and to not ignore the situation. Be prepared to stage a loving intervention, if necessary, to get them the treatment and support they need.