How to handle relapse when they’re STILL using?



So my boyfriend recently had 3 months sober and relapsed. He has been using for about two weeks but I found out a week ago after seeing signs and finding out for myself. I confronted him and he confessed (but only after I had evidence). I know that relapse is a part of recovery and can be a way to learn and become better in recovering. However relapse as recovery typically means they relapse and quickly feel sorrowful and want to continue in recovery, right? So how do I deal with relapse when he is still using and has not yet gone back to recovery? I can handle a relapse if he wants recovery and is honest with me… I can’t handle seeing him continue using and lying to my face. I thought of telling him I don’t want contact with him until he is ready to seek recovery again… but I feel like I’m not supporting him if I do this. What do I do?

Edit: I also want to add that he says he has not used in a few days but I don’t believe him. Now every time he leaves the house I assume he is going to use. Advice on finding trust again? Thanks


Thanks for sharing @LexiNico - lapses are common with any kind of behavior change, still they can be concerning, as you are highlighting :slight_smile:

They can be less concerning when the conditions are safe, they last for a short time and they are used as a learning experiencing (what conditions lead up to the lapse and what was working in recovery to get that sober time?) Even less concerning when they have a professional partnering with them through this learning process.

All that to say, you have every right to feel concerned if when you realistically evaluate the situation you feel it is less of a blip on the radar and more taking hold of them back down the using path.

Thinking through this with you there are a couple ideas that come to mind:

  • Slow and steady: Since it sounds like it is hard to tackle a conversation head on about the lapse, maybe working on getting connection and the communication lines back open through positive communication tips - eg. what other harmful behaviors are occurring that can you agree on? This helps you begin to work on positive actions instead of just banging heads about the usage. Also, try asking for permission to talk about the lapse - eg. "I love you, and I’m concerned about your health and happiness since you lapsed, when is a good time that we can have a talk about it so we can figure out how to move forward (with recovery) together?

  • Accelerating help: what has worked for him in recovery before? How can we re-engage in those activities? Have there been any professionals that have been useful for him that he listens to (therapist, counselor, recovery coach, friend, parent, sponsor)? eg. “You seem tired of this cycle, do you think we can re-engage some of the practices / help that was working for you before, what do you think might help you out of this funk? How can I help?”

Regarding trust, when someone is in active addiction the drug use is their number one survival concern. Knowing this, we can understand that they’ll protect that at any cost. Rebuilding and refocusing trust and connection outside the drug use can be helpful to establish where trust does exist.

I do hope you’ll join us tonight since our digital meetup topic is relapse and we will be able to go more into depth on and talk through it, I think it will be very useful for you (register HERE.)


My husband was out of rehab and clean for about 5 months before he relapsed - and not just a slip, but back to full on using, lying, etc. I am so sorry you are in this situation. I know how terrifying and lonely and frustrating it feels. In addition to all the tips @jane provided, I urge you to take care of yourself and look closely at your own boundaries. For me it was extremely difficult to be living with an active addict whom I couldn’t trust, not to mention I couldn’t leave him alone with our son and so I was just very stuck and stressed out and needed to focus on my own care. It is during these uncertain times when there is no clear answer that I turn to something higher. I developed a faith in a higher power through Al-Anon and learned to let go of things I couldn’t control. I learned to trust and have faith that everything was going to turn out ok even if they didn’t turn out the way I wanted or expected them to. I trusted my gut. And I knew in my heart I couldn’t live with the lies, even though I knew it was a part of the disease, they were having a seriously negative impact on my own mental health. That’s when I left to stay with my sister out of state. My husband and I are still together but leaving him for that short period was a huge surrender and a huge step in my healing process. Slips and relapses still scare me. Slips still happen. All I can do is know that we have survived so much already, and I trust we have it in us to get through it. Resilience, faith, hope, strength, courage. You have it all within you, too. :pray:t4::sparkles: