5 Ways to Support Your Loved One After They Relapse

If someone you love is struggling with addiction, the rollercoaster on the road to recovery can be incredibly stressful for everyone that lends them support. Standing by someone as they abuse substances, or relapse after a period of sobriety can be challenging and emotional. While you may be feeling angry or hurt, you may also be wondering what to do next. It is important to care for yourself while also supporting your loved one in the most productive way possible. Here are five ways you can be a part of a strong support system while also maintaining healthy boundaries.

Understand that Relapse Doesn’t Mean Failure

When you witness someone you love struggle with addiction and then finally achieve sobriety, only to relapse into substance abuse again after a period of days, weeks, or even years, the effect on everyone involved can be devastating. It is normal to feel frustrated with them and their addiction and to even feel like giving up. But the science behind addiction tells us that relapsing into substance abuse after addiction has developed in the brain is not entirely the fault of the individual. It is very likely that your loved one does not intend to hurt you or let you down, and they may be criticizing themselves more than you realize. But relapse is a normal part of recovery for many individuals, and instead of being perceived as a failure, it can become a helpful learning opportunity to create success in the future.

Take Care of Yourself First

Caring for yourself when someone you love has an addiction is very similar to the care required for addiction recovery. It is important to take the time to recognize your thoughts and emotions surrounding your loved one and their addiction and find a way to work through them without lashing out in anger or frustration. There are counseling and therapy services that cater specifically to the families and partners of people in recovery, and these resources can be incredibly helpful in teaching you to cope with your own pain while also supporting your loved one. In addition, it can help to take the time to care for yourself physically by exercising and eating right, so that you can feel good in your body and spirit and approach the problem with calm strength.  

Be Open to Communication

Once you have taken the time to grapple with your own feelings and wellbeing, find it in your heart to discuss the situation with your loved one without judgment or anger. Invite them to talk through their own feelings and emotions surrounding relapse so that you may better understand where they are coming from and what they want to do next. It is likely that after a relapse, your loved one will be bogged down with feelings of guilt and shame, and the best way to support them and motivate them back towards sobriety is to actively listen to them as they work through their emotions.

Make a Plan

When determining what led to relapse, encourage your loved one to consider new options for treatment and lasting recovery. Whether they had attempted sobriety on their own or with professional help, there may be other, more intensive programs that will better suit their needs and increase the likelihood of success. By consulting with addiction specialists, your loved one can create a holistic plan for recovery that keeps in mind the lessons learned from relapse.

Consider Lifestyle

Your lifestyle choices, especially if you live with a loved one in recovery, can be crucial in the early days of their sobriety. This might mean keeping the alcohol out of the house and refraining from hosting events where you know people may be drinking. It can also be helpful to consider fun sober activities you can do together, or even build a new hobby. A hobby that involves being active like cycling or hiking is a great way to stimulate endorphin production and fight symptoms of depression and anxiety that could be triggering to someone in recovery. Finding new activities is also a great way to meet other people in a setting free of drugs and alcohol. Plenty of people who live healthy, active lifestyles refrain from drug and alcohol use and can be great influences on our attitude and choices.

Relapse isn’t the end. Loving someone who struggles with addiction is a battle all its own, and the pain and disappointment that can come from witnessing them relapse can be devastating.  Remember that despite their slip up, any progress made towards a life of sobriety cannot be undone. Each attempt is a learning experience and a step in the right direction, and given the right support and the necessary tools for recovery, the next attempt can be the one that lasts.


At Burning Tree, we know addiction treatment is not one-size-fits-all, and everyone is fighting a unique battle. We specialize in treating clients with a history of relapse, employing a wide range of successful techniques and methodologies in a compassionate environment. Here you and your loved one will find a culture of honesty and accountability in which they will learn a new way to live, and ultimately foster a lifetime of sobriety and wellness. For more information, call us now at 866-287-2877.


We are here for you and your family. You don't have to suffer any longer, find recovery today!

We are in-network with 15+ health insurance providers.

This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.