12. Realize That Life Will Offer a Recovering Addict Serious Triggers to Relapse, No Matter How Good Rehab Was
Relationship breakups, professional setbacks, job losses, lawsuits, deaths of family or close friends—these can be overwhelming. Even a person who has been sober for many years may break at these moments. When you love someone who has recovered from addiction, if he encounters one of these serious stressors, give him or her extra help at this time. Try not to leave him alone for the first few days. Once the crisis is past, the person’s skills and training will be more likely to carry him through any steps that must be taken.
How to do it wrong: A man successfully completes rehab and spends many years sober, managing a successful life. When he’s out with close friends, one of them dies suddenly of a heart attack, right in front of him. Because he has been sober for a decade, the family never thinks that he would need extra support at this time. But the loss is so shocking and overwhelming that even ten years of sobriety is not enough to prevent him from relapsing into drug use. His brief escape into opiates is enough to trigger the whole pattern of addiction for him. A few weeks later, the family realizes they have lost him to addiction again.
How to do it right: When the man’s close friend dies in front of him, his brother realizes that this event could be so overwhelming that it could drive him to escape the pain with opiate abuse. He immediately goes to his brother’s side and stays there for the next few days. If he has to leave, he makes sure he is replaced with another sober family member or close friend until the crisis is over. The man’s brother realizes that this inconvenience to his life is nothing compared to the disruption that would occur if the man had to go through an entire rehab program again.