Relapse happens and along with it comes enabling behaviors from the family and friends. While it doesn’t happen to everyone, it is a common occurrence and for members of the recovery community, a sad one. It’s sad because most people in recovery have lost at least one friend to the disease of addiction. It’s hard to watch someone you care about struggle or lose what they have worked so hard for to the disease.
Oftentimes, when a person relapses they simply seem to disappear. Maybe you notice that they aren’t going to meetings, and you just don’t see them for weeks, months or even years. They stop answering your calls. At some point, you find out they have relapsed. Eventually, they find their way back.
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Your Close Friend has Relapsed
In other cases, the situation is a little different. It may be that your close friend has relapsed, or perhaps your roommate. When the person is close to you, things can get tricky. This is especially the case if the person is in denial of their relapse. Perhaps they don’t consider what is happening to be a relapse. This sometimes happens with prescription drugs.
Other times, you may have a friend who has relapsed and reaches out to you for help and support. This is often where enabling can come in. This is because friends who have relapsed are in their disease, and they want help staying that way. They may deny that they have a problem, or they may play on your hope and sympathies by insisting that they want to get help. In the meantime, they are living on your couch, eating your food and borrowing money from you. This can quickly turn into an unmanageable situation because the active addiction lifestyle invites all kinds of drama and chaos, and it affects everyone in the vicinity of it.
A Friend’s Relapse and Drama
You may quickly find yourself enmeshed in your friend’s problems and get caught up in the drama. This puts your recovery and well-being at risk, and it also helps the person stay where they are, instead of facing their problems and getting the help that they need.
There are plenty. Lying, covering for them, loaning them money, paying their bills, allowing them to stay with you, the list goes on. It isn’t easy when someone you care about is struggling. The urge to help them through their problems can be strong, but you always must remember that they are their own person, and especially if they have experienced recovery before, they do know what needs to be done in order to get back into the solution. If they are not doing that, then they are making a conscious decision to stay in the problem. All you can do is love them and support them in making healthy choices. If you are wondering if you are enabling them, the answer is probably yes.
Basically, anything you do that helps keep them loaded, allows them to avoid a consequence or interferes with their well-being are examples of enabling behaviors.
How Can You Help Them Avoid Relapse
There are plenty of ways to help. You can offer to give them a ride to a meeting, or to a treatment center. You can talk to them on the phone as long as they are being respectful and not abusive. In some cases, though, you may have to cut off all contact with them until they are sober. This doesn’t have to be done in an angry or hurtful way. Simply let them know that you have to set a boundary and that you can’t interact with them while they are using. Encourage them to get help and to contact you when they have done that.
Relapse Can Devastate a Person’s Life
Relapse can quickly devastate a person’s life. They may become homeless and destitute. At this point, all you can do is point them in the direction of resources that can help them. You can offer them a hot meal if they need it, but be careful that you don’t end up being their go-to for food and shelter whenever they want it. You can continue to encourage and love them, but you may need to do it from a distance. You don’t have to let someone in your home who is actively using, and especially if you are in recovery yourself, you shouldn’t. If they are already in your home then you must take the proper steps to keep your home a safe and sober environment.
In some cases, you may need to evict your roommate if they are using in the home. If you can’t evict them, then you may have to move. No matter what the situation, you have to protect yourself. You have to protect your own recovery, and you have to protect your home, your finances, and your sanity.
It is tempting to try to help friends who have relapsed. Often, the best you can do is to continue showing them that staying clean is possible by doing it yourself. Setting firm boundaries is important in order to protect your recovery and to avoid enabling.
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Getting Help For Addiction
If someone you love has relapsed, or if you have, there is help. Often what is needed is treatment to help you get back on track. FindAddictionRehabs.com offers comprehensive treatment that addresses not only the addiction but the needs of the body, mind, and spirit. If you need help, contact FindAddictionRehabs.com at 1-877-959-7271.