Being there for a loved one who has lived through an addiction and successfully completed recovery is a commendable decision. Achieving sobriety can be as emotionally difficult as it is physically taxing and mentally draining – so supporting someone as they overcome their substance use disorder is no small task.

But, just as someone diagnosed with any number of physical health issues can experience a setback in their treatment, dealing with a relapse after long-term sobriety is not out of the ordinary. Addressing the issue in a healthy and supportive manner is exactly what your loved one needs, so they can avoid their relapse becoming a full-blown collapse back into addiction.

Educating yourself about the ins-and-outs of the recovery process and why people relapce can better prepare you to not only embrace your loved one through their potential setback, but also encourage them to get back to their sober lifestyle as soon as possible.

Relapse After Long-Term Sobriety: Is It Common?

Simply put, yes. Relapse at any phase of the recovery journey is a common occurrence.

Statistically speaking, anywhere between 40-60% of those recovering from addiction will experience a relapse incident sometime during their recovery.1 This is important to understand when dealing with a loved one who has found themselves facing a relapse incident.

Being able to normalize their setback by making them feel valued and encouraged allows your loved one to process their relapse and understand that they are not alone in their recovery journey.

Supportive Steps to Take if Your Loved One Experiences a Relapse

Attempting to identify what caused your loved one to relapse can be complicated because of the varying factors that impact each person’s individual addictive impulses.

From negative social influences to individual addiction triggers, the disease of addiction is as complex and problematic as any other physical or mental health disorder. If your loved one has experienced a relapse after long-term sobriety, one of the best courses of action you can take is to work with them to help them overcome their setback and reestablish their sobriety.

  • Establish an Open Line of Communication
    Being able to discuss your loved one’s relapse and the importance of overcoming this setback is an essential step in supporting them. Effective communication is the best method of fostering trust with your loved one. Taking the time to communicate openly and honestly is the best way to show them you are with them regardless of what hardships they encounter.
  • Don’t Blame, Show Empathy
    It is a natural reaction to be disappointed or frustrated with a loved one who has taken a step backward in their recovery. While blaming them, or displaying your frustration in an obvious way, may feel justified, it will only push your loved one deeper into their relapse. Instead, it is imperative to show them empathy and genuine compassion during this time. Loving them and supporting them through their relapse can be just what they need to reestablish their sobriety.
  • Remember to Take Care of Yourself
    Focusing on your loved one is natural when they experience a setback in their recovery, but remembering to take care of yourself is just as, if not more, important. Consider the example of a parent on a plane. If the plane experiences an issue and the oxygen masks are enabled, you have to put your own mask on before you can help anyone else. How can you provide support to another person if you are physically incapacitated? When you are supporting your loved one through a relapse, maintaining your own physical health and mental wellbeing is essential to helping them reestablish theirs.

Relapsing After Years of Sobriety Isn’t the End-All: Addiction Rehab Can Help

While you can provide emotional support and encouragement to your relapsing loved one, pointing them back toward a qualified clinical treatment program to address their recovery setback is often the most effective way to help them.

This allows them to address the addiction triggers that started their relapse in a safe and clinically supportive environment.

Additionally, it takes them away from any negative social influences impacting their decision to relapse and surrounds them by treatment staff trained to identify problematic behavioral patterns and reestablish healthier lifestyle trends.

After all, while experiencing a relapse is common among recovering addicts, receiving highly qualified clinical guidance to get back on track is the best method of overcoming this type of setback.

Comprehensive Addiction Recovery and Relapse Prevention at Ranch Creek Recovery

At Ranch Creek Recovery, we believe that relapse can happen to anyone, but your loved one’s rehabilitation route can mean all the difference and better prepare them for the challenges ahead.

We address addiction recovery and relapse prevention head on through our non-12-step, individualized,
holistic addiction treatment programs. Our team of treatment experts will work one-on-one with your loved one to create a custom treatment and recovery plan that can help your loved one feel confident and ready to enter their new, sober life.

Learn more about Ranch Creek Recovery, including our what we offer and what we treat. Have questions? We’re here to help in any way we can. Contact us today.

CALL NOW: (877) 293-8607


1 National Institute on Drug Abuse. Drugs, Brains, and Behavior: The Science of Addiction. Accessed August 8, 2019.