Helping A Loved One Who Relapses Over New Year’s
If your loved one relapses on New Year’s, you can help them by recognizing that relapse is normal, refraining from shameful language, and helping them to find a safe, sober space.
New Year’s Eve can be an exciting, fun holiday, but it falls during a stressful time of year for many people, including some people in recovery from substance abuse.
Many people have friends or family members recovering from drug or alcohol addiction.
This could be the first New Year’s Eve your loved one has spent sober in a long time. Or they may have relapsed in the past during this time of year, and they may be anxious about the upcoming holiday.
It’s not always easy to know how to offer support for a loved one in addiction recovery. This article aims to shed some light on what you can do if they do relapse this New Year.
What To Do If Your Loved One Relapses
It’s best to be prepared for relapse when and if it does occur over the holiday. The hope is that your loved one will get through the day sober, but if they do relapse, here’s how you can help.
1. Know That Relapse Is Normal
It can be scary to see signs that your loved one has relapsed. Memories of their substance use and the consequences of addiction may come flooding back, making you fear what might come next.
This is a natural response to a loved one relapsing, but remind yourself that this is a normal part of the recovery process.
Addiction recovery is not over when the treatment program ends. Between 40% and 60% of people relapse after getting clean, and this is not an indication of failure.
Signs of relapse might include:
- changes in their routine
- isolation, or other signs of depression
- poor sleeping or eating habits
- a return to old hobbies
Your loved one’s likelihood of relapse may also be impacted by factors such as their access to treatment or support groups, co-occurring mental health disorders, finances, and more.
If your loved one relapses on New Year’s, take a moment to step back and recognize that this is a common part of recovery, and with your support, they can continue their recovery.
2. Don’t Shame Your Loved One
When your spouse shows up intoxicated to an important family gathering on New Year’s Eve, it’s hard not to get angry and use shameful words.
If your loved one relapses over New Year’s, they’re likely already feeling shame and telling themselves harsh words, and they don’t need the added guilt from the people they love.
More than likely, they didn’t plan to relapse or cause you pain, and they’re feeling a lot of guilt and regret over their actions.
This doesn’t mean you have to ignore their actions or make excuses. You can be firm while remaining supportive and understanding, keeping your boundaries in place.
3. Find A Sober Alternative
Alcohol and other drugs may be present at your New Year’s Eve party or gathering, giving your loved one access to substances and aiding in their relapse.
If your loved one uses substances at this event, you might consider removing yourself and them from the situation in search of a sober alternative or simply finding a safe space.
Make them an alcohol-free drink, go for a walk outside, look for a space to talk privately, or find some other way to provide your loved one with a safe, substance-free space.
Ideas for helping your loved one stop their substance use on New Year’s include:
- making them an alcohol-free drink
- going for a walk outside
- looking for a space to talk privately
- finding some other way to provide your loved one with a safe, substance-free space
Even though they’ve already had alcohol or used substances, you can help to minimize the relapse and safeguard them from overdose or getting into a dangerous situation.
4. Remind Yourself Of Their Challenge
Recovery from addiction is a lifelong process that typically involves many ups and downs. Each person had their own unique reasons for using, unique habits of abuse, and reasons for beginning recovery.
However, there are some common stressors that people in recovery face, including:
- difficult emotions, such as aggression and sadness
One of the best ways to show support for your loved one is to listen to their problems, including why they think they chose to use again.
The following morning, offer to sit down and talk over a cup of coffee or tea. This will help them see you as an ally who understands their condition.
What Causes Relapse Over New Year’s Eve
There are many reasons a person might relapse on New Year’s Eve or New Year’s Day.
It’s helpful to be aware of a few of the common triggers so you can help your loved one to get through the holiday successfully, or have a better place of understanding if they do relapse.
Here are some of the common causes of New Year’s relapses:
- seeing others use drugs, smoke, or drink alcohol
- being around the substance of abuse
- experiencing mental illness, such as symptoms of depression or bipolar disorder
- feeling isolated or lonely
- having a sense of purposelessness
- hearing New Year’s resolutions and feeling like a failure
- feeling nostalgic over days of using substances and going to parties
- displaying an inability to cope with stress or difficult events over the holiday
- visiting old places associated with drug or alcohol use
- seeing people associated with the addiction
- experiencing unpredictable and uncontrollable circumstances over New Year’s
- making too many changes to their typical routine
How To Help Prevent Your Loved One From Relapsing
The best thing you can do is talk to your loved one before New Year’s Day comes.
Ask them questions about what triggers they expect to face, what’s causing them stress in relation to the holiday, people or places they’re hoping to avoid that day, or negative emotions.
Discuss with them relapse prevention tips and find a system that works for them, such as bookending their holiday celebration with phone calls to a recovery mentor.
You can also help them to find support, such as:
- getting them involved in an aftercare program
- discussing the possibility of going back to a rehab program
- finding a peer recovery group, such as Women for Sobriety, SMART Recovery, or Alcoholics Anonymous
talking to a therapist
Ultimately, your loved one’s decision to use substances is out of your control. You can help them to have a successful holiday, but do not take responsibility for their actions.
Get Help For Your Loved One Today
The next step after relapse is to get treatment. At Spring Hill Recovery Center, we understand the complications of drug and alcohol addiction, relapse, and its effect on families.
Call us today to get more information on a treatment program that can help.
Written by Spring Hill Editorial Team
©2023 Spring Hill Recovery Center | All Rights Reserved
This page does not provide medical advice.
- National Institute on Drug Abuse — Treatment and Recovery https://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/drugs-brains-behavior-science-addiction/treatment-recovery