How to Stay Sober After a Friend’s Relapse

Two friends back to back, thinking about sobriety and relapse

Watching anyone relapse is hard, but it can be particularly difficult when the person who relapses is someone you are close to. This can make you question your own recovery, casting doubt that efforts you’ve made are going to work for you in the future. And it can be isolating, feeling like you are now alone in your recovery. But this doesn’t have to be the case. When your friend has a relapse, also known as a recurrence, you can address the sudden change with these tips.

Don’t Bottle Up Your Emotions

While you should never gossip about your friend’s relapse, you do need to address how their recurrence has impacted you. Talk to your friends, family, sponsor, recovery coach, therapist, anyone you trust, and let them know what’s going on. Don’t keep your feelings bottled up. You might be feeling angry, disappointed, or hurt right now. And that is normal—it is okay to feel what you are feeling, as long as you don’t let it derail your progress. Talking it out can provide you with a great sense of relief and perspective. Watching someone relapse is not easy, but it doesn’t have to burden you.

Stay Calm and Focus on YOUR Recovery

It can be easy to look at someone who has relapsed and think, “If they couldn’t do it, neither can I.” But you need to remember that relapse is not inevitable, and it does not have to be a part of your recovery journey. If you make your sobriety your top priority and surround yourself with support, there is no reason why you can’t maintain your sobriety. Just be sure, to be honest with yourself and those around you. Learn what your triggers are, know how to recognize the signs of a relapse, and don’t be afraid to ask for help when you need it. It is never too early to reach out.

Remember Your Motivation

We all have something that encourages us to stay sober. Maybe it’s having your family back in your life, the new friendships you’ve built in recovery, or how much your life has changed. But sometimes we forget just how much sobriety has given us and we need a reminder. Creating a gratitude list and writing down all the positive things in your life will show you just how much you have going for you and give you the motivation you need to keep going when challenges come your way.

Keep Busy

You need to stay busy during this time and participating in mindfulness activities can serve as the perfect distraction. Activities like yoga and meditation will help to keep you calm and balanced and work through your emotions in a healthy and positive way. You can also use this as an opportunity to journal about it. Perhaps there were warning signs that your friend was about to relapse? If it seems like there were, write them down so that you can learn from them and you can use them as a cautionary tale to keep yourself on track. It is vital to concentrate on yourself, and journaling about it has the added benefit of making the situation into something that you can learn from to aid your recovery. Keep yourself busy and centered, putting your effort into your recovery so that you can stay on a healthy and clean path.

Offer Support

It is normal to feel like you should help the person who has relapsed, and while you can certainly help them get back on track, your number one priority should be yourself and your recovery. Ways you can help them without jeopardizing your recovery include: encouraging them to go to treatment, inviting them to go to a meeting with you, and trying to help them understand what triggered their relapse and how they can get back on track. Just be sure to not put yourself in situations that could be dangerous to your recovery.

If you or a loved one is struggling with addiction, Mountainside can help.
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