What to Do If Your Adult Son Relapses

Over the course of your son’s recovery journey, there may be challenges and obstacles that you must overcome together. One of these challenges is the possibility of relapse. This can be a scary time in a parent’s life. It can be easy to feel hopeless, shameful, or even guilty when a relapse like this occurs. Knowing what to do if your adult son relapses can make the difference between a second chance and tragedy. Fortunately, with the resources available through New Life House Recovery, a young man can recover while developing positive habits that can lead to a lifetime of sobriety. By learning more about the dangers of relapse, you can better protect your son and your family from further suffering.

What is Relapse?

Relapse, by definition, refers to the continuation of use of a controlled substance or other drug after the use of the drug has been discontinued for a period of time. 

For example, a young man is addicted to alcohol. He experiences three years of alcohol fueled turmoil, losing his house and car. The young man’s parents get him help through the use of a therapist. Unfortunately, his treatment is insufficient, and only 3 months after getting completely sober, he is met with temptation. Having seen a bar across the street earlier in the day, he decides to go over and check it out. After debating outside for 10 minutes, he decides to go in and orders an alcoholic drink. He then orders a second, and then a third. This is an example of a relapse

Relapse is a particularly insidious occurrence as it completely undoes much of the progress that a person has made towards sobriety. An analogy often used is the picking of a scab. If you allow a wound to heal correctly, you do not pick the scab away, as this will make the process take longer. Likewise, in terms of drug and alcohol addiction, when a person relapses, they are ripping off the metaphorical scab, making the recovery process more difficult, losing progress, and re-opening old wounds.

What Are the Causes of Relapse?

Relapse can occur for many reasons and motivations. Sometimes the reason boils down to a person simply wanting a “fix” or relief from their withdrawal symptoms. The withdrawal process is an extremely dangerous time for this reason, as many of those suffering from dependency will choose to relapse instead of undergoing the withdrawal process. This leads to a cycle of continual use and abuse. 

Another cause of relapse is mental health struggles. This refers to either people attempting to ease their mental suffering through substance use, or people who (because of their mental health disorder) are not in the proper state of mind to make rational decisions.

For these reasons, New Life House is proud to provide resources to those suffering from mental health disorder, as well as substance use disorder. Boredom and isolation are other driving factors in relapse, as well as temptation. For these reasons, it is crucial for those most vulnerable to relapse to actively seek out assistance, keep their minds busy with positive activities, and do everything they can to distance themselves from temptation.

Signs and Symptoms of Relapse

The signs and symptoms of relapse can help a person recognize when their loved one needs help. Knowing what to do if adult son relapses can make all the difference and possibly save a life. When looking for the signs and symptoms of relapse, a person can typically expect to find:

  • Poor self care
  • Depression
  • Cravings
  • Glamorizing past substance use
  • Minimizing consequences
  • Claiming control over drug/alcohol use
  • Planning relapse
  • Isolation
  • Withdrawing from once enjoyed activities

While this list is not exhaustive, many of the aforementioned attributes are tell-tale signs that a relapse may be around the corner.

What to Do If Your Adult Son Relapses

Knowing what to do if adult son relapses can be one of the most difficult times in a parent’s life. Fortunately, there are resources available that can assist parents during this struggle. Sober living communities such as New Life House Recovery’s sober living community for men can help people gain control of their sobriety. Additionally, there are a few key points to keep in mind.

Understand that Relapse Isn’t Failure

During this trying time, it can feel tempting to give up on your son and his situation. However, it is imperative to keep in mind that relapse is not failure, merely a setback. While it can hinder progress tremendously, it is not the end of a person’s recovery journey. In fact, the majority of people who achieve lasting sobriety undergo a number of relapses during their recoveries.

This is not to say that relapse is something to be celebrated, as it is indeed a setback. However, one must remember that it is also an opportunity to begin fresh, and learn from the mistakes of the past.

Offer Understanding and Support

By being your son’s ally rather than his overlord, you can gain his trust, making the entire process run much more smoothly. By offering support, love, and understanding during this trying time, a parent can strengthen the bond with their child rather than hurting it. When a parent reacts with anger or disgust, it can have a negative impact on one’s son’s recovery. Through support, care, and mentorship, a parent can show their son that they are in this journey together, for better or worse.

Research Treatment Options

Having treatment options available can help a parent open up to their son and calmly discuss options for treatment. If a person’s son is uncooperative or the relationship is strained, treatment options often offer resources that can help a parent cope properly and know what steps to take next. Being prepared with a plan of action, as well as a number of treatment options increases a young man’s chances of achieving lasting sobriety greatly. 

Find Relief for Relapse in Los Angeles

At New Life House Recovery, we are waiting with open arms to help you during each step of your recovery journey. A sober living home for young men, New Life has the resources, staff, and knowledge to help your son climb out of the turmoil of addiction. Through our plethora of treatment modalities and sober living opportunities, we help young men reach their potential and achieve lasting sobriety. There has never been a better time to reclaim your freedom from dependency. Contact our admissions page today, and take the first steps in your journey to lasting recovery.

Last Updated on February 21, 2024


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