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Relapse Happens

A different perspective on the topic of Relapse. Addiction and relapse can go hand in

hand. Learning a different approach can create a different outcome.

When our loved one relapses, it can feel like the end of the world. I know when I was in the beginning of this journey with my son and he was going through his first round of treatment at a rehab facility, I was sitting in on a support group on Family Day and a therapist said, "Relapse was part of Recovery". This was the first time I had heard this phrase, and to be honest, it took all my willpower not to jump up from my chair and slap her. Seriously! I really felt like, "how dare you say such a thing? Do you have any idea what is has taken to get him here? How could you say something so defeating out loud in this room of family members who have fought with all their might to get their loved on to this point?" The thought of having to go through all of this again was beyond depressing, it made me very angry to hear these words.

Accepting Relapse is Part of Recovery

Now fast forward 10 years. I have learned much, I have gained skills, and yes; I have accepted that Relapse is often a part of Recovery. I have not only accepted it, but now I have a plan for it. That idea must sound so depressing, planning for something bad to happen. Even saying the word out loud could feel like you are jinxing it and bringing it into existence. I know it may feel this way, but really it was about talking about the hard things, being honest with each other about the realities of this horrible disease and having the difficult discussions; instead of letting worry and fear fester in the back of my mind. With addiction, I feel that one of the worst things we can do is letting things go unsaid. Gray areas are not good for recovery.


Having a Plan Can Give You Peace of Mind

I found that when we started making a plan around relapse, it opened up a conversation to discuss it. His response was "but I am not going to relapse". Of course that is always the hope, but we know that is not always the reality. I found that once we could talk about it, it gave me the opportunity to discuss it with him without any shame around it. I found that is does not have to be this huge thing where he has go back to back to ground zero and start from nothing again. I now see it is not about failing, but more about learning what was missing from his recovery. That is all! What is missing? This could be moral support, groups or therapy, boundaries, accountability, structure, life experiences, or having something to strive for. They could need to go back to sober living or rehab to get the.

What was amazing about it, is once we came up with a plan; a plan that He would be financially accountable for, a plan where He agreed upon the structure of what He needed. Well, then something incredible happened. I felt a tremendous amount of relief and peace about it. It was no longer going to fall on my shoulders leaving me to scramble and figure out how to pay for it or what needs to be done in a midst of a crisis; we now had a plan in place. There was no gray area or confusion about what will take place if a relapse occurs, it was clear and defined for both of us; and because of that, we made that big giant elephant in the room named "Relapse" disappear.


The timing of a discussion like this involving relapse is something that needs to be taken into high consideration. It is not something I would jump into without really evaluating where the person is in their recovery. As with any Action Plan, it is good to have guidance or discuss with peers or an expert.

As I go through this journey myself and help others who have found themselves on the same path, it never fails to amaze me that there is always a solution to every obstacle we face with our loved one's addiction. We may need to look at it from another angle or reach out for assistance and guidance, but finding peace is possible!

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