Watching your husband relapse and go back to drinking can be devastating and make you feel helpless as well as hopeless. It could make you feel like all their hard work in rehab treatment was in vain. As someone who loves him unconditionally you want to do everything possible to help him avoid alcoholism relapse, perhaps even sacrificing your own happiness, wants, and needs in order to help him recover (again). But, experts claim that’s the wrong approach and not what’s actually best for a recovering alcoholic or addict. Here are some key points to keep in mind when you feel a loved one is on the brink of alcoholism relapse and how you can help.
1. It’s not your problem.
For most people, this is very hard to hear. Remember, this is your husband’s battle, not yours. It’s up to him to face the situation head-on and deal with it on his own so as not to fall back into alcoholism relapse. In order for him to truly recover and get well, you need to stand back, no matter how incredibly hard that may seem.
Recovering alcoholics must be made accountable in order to recover from a relapse, just the same as they’re accountable for their alcoholism in the first place. This does not mean, however, you can’t support and encourage them. Suggest they talk to their sponsor or counselor about alcoholism relapse or at the very least attend a support meeting. Gently keep directing them where they need to go. Pushing and nagging your husband to do the ‘right’ thing will only make him want to relapse even more. Offer positive support and then stand back.
2. Don’t do the blame game.
Try to neutralize your emotions and avoid making your husband feel guilty or ashamed in any way. However, it’s also important to not try and take away his anxiety or guilt about alcoholism relapse either. That’s not your place to do so. If your husband feels guilty about relapsing or even considering a relapse, it’s actually good since it shows he’s aware of the consequences and will likely seek the professional help he needs. This doesn’t mean you have to stand by and do nothing. You can still support him without getting pulled into the situation.
3. Be happy and take care of yourself.
One of the best ways to support a recovering alcoholic is to stay positive and simply take care of yourself by eating well, exercising, and getting adequate rest. Continue to do the things you like to do, such as your favorite sports, hobbies, or crafts. Once your husband sees that you’re determined to be happy and live well regardless of what he’s doing, this will have a positive effect on him and deter alcoholism relapse.
4. Do not keep alcohol in the house.
Also, this is probably obvious, but you cannot keep any alcohol in the house whatsoever. Even if there’s a special event coming up or if you enjoy a drink or two from time to time, it doesn’t matter. Why would you allow the very thing that’s killing your husband into your home to tempt him? If you really want to support him, don’t bring alcohol home.
Alcoholism is, in several ways, just like any other serious illness that typically requires more than one dose of treatment. Just because your husband suffers from alcoholism relapse doesn’t mean you should ‘throw in the towel’. In fact, he may relapse a number of times before he decides enough is enough and stays clean for good. Stay optimistic.
There’s a helpline you can suggest your husband calls at this hotline number: 800-890-3586. Help is always available.