What to Say When Someone Relapses

Recovery is a challenging time for everyone, including friends and family of a person pursuing sobriety. One of the challenges is the likelihood of relapsing after a time of successful recovery. This is a disappointing and emotional time when words have the potential to help or hinder the recovery process. Yet, many times, a few words aptly spoken can propel a person forward to continue the journey. Read on to find out what to say when someone relapses.

To learn more about our personalized recovery programs, contact Myrtle Beach Recovery. Our commitment to the 12-step program enables our residents to achieve lasting sobriety, self-confidence, and a fulfilled life.

Signs of a Relapse

The person entering recovery and those around them enter the process, hopeful that success will come quickly and easily. However, this is hardly the case. Instead, it is a difficult journey, and relapsing is common. Knowing the signs of relapse can make it easier for you to help your friend or loved one during this difficult period. Some of the signs of relapse to look for include the following:

  • Isolation. A certain danger signal during recovery is seeing someone pull away from others. This can include missing recovery meetings, avoiding friends and family, canceling appointments with counselors or therapists, and evading social activities.
  • Poor self-care. Participants in recovery learn the importance of daily self-care, including personal hygiene, regularly eating, getting adequate sleep, exercising, and keeping all medical appointments. Deviations from these practices are a sign the person may have relapsed.
  • Mood swings. Anxiety and depression are common during recovery. Some people struggle with their emotions more than others during recovery. Still, almost everyone is susceptible to stress-induced emotions that can cause relapse.  
  • Cross addictions. Replacing one addiction for another is not a good sign, even if the new addiction is less dangerous or serious. If you notice your friend or loved one has moved to a new compulsive behavior, this is a sign they need help.

What to Say When Someone Relapses

It may take tremendous self-discipline, wisdom, and planning to say something that will help and not harm someone who has relapsed. However, this is when encouragement, not scolding, is paramount. Here are five things to consider saying when someone relapses:

  1. “Would you like to talk about what has happened?” Without insisting that they talk about it, you can let them know you are available to discuss it when they feel ready.
  2. “You have not failed.” You can encourage them that recovery is a journey with many ups and downs. Ensure your loved one during this time that you will stick with them through each difficulty. 
  3. “What have you learned from this relapse?” Reframing a relapse as a learning experience can be very helpful to avoid the same thing happening again. It can be more beneficial if you can help them identify what triggered the relapse.
  4. “What can I do to help you right now?” This lets them know that they are not alone. Offering sincere help can be much more beneficial than telling them what they did wrong and how not to repeat the same mistake.
  5. “Never, never, never give up.” The words of Winston Churchill can be very encouraging and helpful after a major disappointment. A simple phrase can propel your friend or family member forward to continue pursuing their goal of sobriety.

Consider Myrtle Beach Recovery

We offer a safe, clean residential environment to help you feel at home during recovery. At Myrtle Beach Recovery, our residents encourage one another to regain control of their lives and persist in their journey toward recovery.

Contact us today to learn more about our services and how we can help you have a sober and joyful life.