How to Help Someone Who Has Been to Treatment and Relapsed

Talk with an addict after relapse

If you have a family member or loved one who struggles with addiction, you probably know how difficult it can be to get them help. While most drug users do want to get clean, they often feel as though they cannot get clean or that it is simply not within them to live a sober life.

This feeling of despair on the part of addicts is worsened if they have tried rehab in the past, only to relapse and return to drug use. How can parents and loved ones convince a struggling addict to try again? To make another effort at getting clean? How can family members convince their loved ones to get help if their loved ones already tried to get help and it didn't work for them?

The Unique Challenges of Trying to Help Someone Who Has Already Been to Rehab

People who have been to rehab before and relapsed may have various objections to trying rehab again. They might not believe that rehab works. They may feel less motivated to get help. They may think that “rehab doesn't work for me.” Maybe they were promised a perfect solution to addiction, only to go to rehab and find that it wasn’t a good fit for them.

Those circumstances present a unique struggle for the parents, family members, and loved ones of addicts. When you’re trying to help an addict who’s been to rehab before and then relapsed, not only are you up against the addiction itself and all of the pulls and influences it has on your loved one, you’re also up against your loved one’s preconceived notions that treatment doesn’t work for them.

That’s why getting your loved one help comes down to two, primary datums:

1. Finding the right treatment approach for your loved one; and,

2. Never giving up on them.

Zero Drug Substitution Helps Create Freedom from Addiction

A common approach to drug treatment today is to help addicts get off of their drug of choice while putting them on other drugs to help with withdrawals. Potentially addictive medications like buprenorphine and methadone are commonly used within treatment settings for this very purpose.

Such an approach is known as “Medication-Assisted Treatment” or “Replacement Drug Therapy.” And while these methods may ease withdrawal symptoms, substituting one drug for another is not necessarily an effective way to achieve lasting freedom from addiction. By the time recovering addicts who use such approaches are ready to leave treatment, they’ve traded one drug dependency for another. Because such individuals aren't really getting clean from drugs, they're more likely to relapse and go back to experimenting with drugs later on.

Drug rehab centers that offer a drug-free route to addiction treatment can provide recovering addicts with a lifetime of freedom from substances. That is why Narconon does not use substitute drugs within its program, seeking instead to utilize unique treatment methods to help recovering addicts leave their drug habits behind for good.

Couple is sitting together

The Crucial Factor of Never Giving Up

If there is one truth that any parent or family member should hold to when helping their loved one, it’s that they should never give up. The moment when they give up, they're essentially saying, “It’s okay with me if my loved one never gets clean from drugs.” And of course, families do not actually feel that way, and that’s why it’s crucial to keep trying.

Helping a loved one overcome addiction can be a daunting task. It also takes time. People don’t become addicts overnight. They also don’t get off drugs overnight, either. It’s crucial for parents, grandparents, siblings, spouses, and other loved ones of addicts to keep trying to help their loved ones get clean. Persistence is key. Persistence does pay off. If the loved ones of addicts never give up on their efforts to help their family members get clean, they will almost always be successful in the end.

Narconon Is Here to Help

As important as it is to never give up on your loved one, it’s also equally important to find the right treatment program for your loved one. It was mentioned earlier how many recovering addicts relapse because they were never really given a chance to experience a totally drug-free life. That is one way in which Narconon differs from other rehabs. Narconon does not use substitute drugs within its program. And with the help of methodologies found nowhere else, Narconon delivers a unique, time-tested program that addresses the physical, mental, behavioral, and spiritual aspects of addiction.

  • Drug-free Withdrawal. Narconon’s Drug-free Withdrawal seeks to help recovering addicts come down off of drugs without the use of supplemental drugs. Special techniques, nutrition, and Withdraw Specialists are utilized to ease discomfort and painful symptoms while also achieving the end goal of a drug-free individual.
  • New Life Detoxification. It’s not enough to just withdraw off of drugs. Narconon also utilizes a specialized detoxification approach found in no other treatment center. The New Life Detoxification seeks to cleanse recovering addicts of toxic residues left in the body after drug use. This detox combines exercise, nutrition, hydration, and time spent in the sauna to sweat out harmful drug residues. Going through the New Life Detoxification helps recovering addicts eliminate every last trace of drugs within their systems. That is how Narconon graduates can go through life without experiencing any cravings for drugs.
  • Objectives. People who use drugs are often stuck in the past troubles and difficulties that got them onto drugs in the first place. The Narconon program includes the Objectives, unique exercises designed to bring the person’s attention off those past struggles and onto the present. A clear mind, focused on the present, is a mind that won’t stray to drug use again.
Narconon study
  • Life Skills. Life Skills are employed to help recovering addicts address the critical areas of life that they may have struggled with before. Creating stability, forming personal values, self-control, how to overcome ups and downs in life, changing conditions in life, and many other such skills are taught at Narconon.

We hope you will never give up on trying to help your loved one get clean, even if they've been to treatment before. And if you need assistance in getting your loved one into treatment, please contact Narconon today.

Reviewed and Edited by Claire Pinelli, ICAADC, CCS, LADC, RAS, MCAP



After working in addiction treatment for several years, Ren now travels the country, studying drug trends and writing about addiction in our society. Ren is focused on using his skill as an author and counselor to promote recovery and effective solutions to the drug crisis. Connect with Ren on LinkedIn.