Advice on how to move forward after a spouse has a relapse?



Hi, I am new to the village and was wondering if anyone has any advice on how best to handle a loved ones relapse. In short, I recently got married to my husband where after a month in, his addiction came to light. He then committed to being sober and started therapy for 3 and a half months, but had a relapse recently over our honeymoon. With the relapse came hiding and lying, all things that can really affect a marriage. He has committed to being sober again, but how do I keep things in perspective so I can remain positive and hopeful after being hurt? Also I am struggling with how relapses are viewed as “normal” and talked about a lot in recovery programs. I understand it is a part of most early recovery, but how can we let them know that when it happens it can be really damaging to trust? Thanks!


Welcome here @Lauren some of the science-based information in this Playbook topic: Brain Chemistry & Change I found really enlightening to understand what’s in and more out of their control during recovery. Let me know if this is useful to you at all? Also, would you mind sharing what the substance is? That might help also with some knowledge sharing :heart: :


@Jane Thank you so much! I will look into that Playbook. The substance is alcohol and mixing with prescription pain killers


Hello, how do I get access to that topic “brain chemistry changes”?


Hi @Lauren. My husband is a recovering heroin addict, and since I first learned about his addiction 11 years ago, he has had about four relapses/slips - two were full-on, back into active addiction and the lies that come with it, and two were slips in which he told me about it and got right back into recovery.

It’s definitely hard to regain trust and keep moving forward after what seems like going back to the beginning. I hold on to truth. To me, him telling me the truth after a relapse/slip and seeing actions behind his words helps me realize that we’re not back to the beginning.

We also went through a lot of therapy, both individual and couples therapy, to learn how to rebuild trust. Transparency has been incredibly important - his willingness to provide drug test results, allow me to see his location on his phone, and give me his phone when I ask to see what’s on it. I know it doesn’t seem like an ideal situation but it’s working for us right now, and honestly it’s more his behaviors that have made me suspicious and the location app just there to confirm my gut feeling. I’ve actually given him access to my location, and now we just use it to know when the other is coming home :smile:

Al-Anon has also helped me with letting go of the past, staying grateful in the present, and putting faith in a higher power - all of which have been helpful in learning to trust my husband again.

I’m glad you found this community. I hope you find the words here helpful to your recovery journey. :pray::sparkles:


@Crystaljunebug welcome here :slight_smile: this topic and many others are available in our Course. Have you had a chance to check that out? We also have a Group Course starting next week that could be very helpful if you’re interested. Let me know if you have any questions.


Thanks so much for sharing your wisdom @momentsandlight grateful to have you here :heart:


@momentsandlight thank you so much for sharing your story and for the advice! I’m so glad that you and your husband have found solid ground after all the work you both have put in to find what works for your relationship. It really gives me hope that my husband and I can get there as well. I have been debating going to Al-anon meetings and after reading your experience with them, I think I will give it a try! Since we are very early in the recovery process, would you suggest couples therapy right away? Or should I give him a chance to focus on himself right now with his individual therapy and group meetings? Thanks :slight_smile:


@Lauren I would definitely recommend getting individual therapy/support/healing first. Work on yourselves, understand your own needs, fears, triggers, and how to express them, before digging into the relationship.


@momentsandlight @Lauren early on we did a couples session with a therapist and in our experience it highlighted quickly that we both needed our own space to work through things!


Hi! This post really resonated in me, because My boyfriend of 9 years recently had a slip and I caught him right in action. He lied to me about 5 times before the full truth came out although I am not really sure if he is telling the truth. Heroin addicts hide things so well because theres so much to it if they inject themselves… between the spoon, needle, water, lighter and substance. I’ve found things under our mattress, inside the walls, behind picture frames… (in the past) . we have been going to therapy as a couple, and individually. We both share our location together and I also have drug tests ready for when I am in doubt. We are going to start implementing drug tests weekly and randomly to keep him on track and ease any worries I have.


In my experience of my husband’s recovery from a cocaine addiction, relapse in the first year post-rehab was scariest and more often. Now 3+ years on I think there was one relapse last year, and when I knew I was able to see the contributing factors that lead up to it which helped me understand it. Also, because he had so much healing time under his belt where new habits had formed it was easier to reset to the new norm.

So I think there’s something to be said for the timing of slip-ups and having a general awareness of how far they are in their healing journey and therefore how much support they’ll need to get back on track.

In my case, getting family and friends involved in this support was majorly helpful to him and me. When things get scary or shaky having others to loop in made it feel like I wasn’t holding the full responsibility and the accountability to them for him was helpful to know lots of people care and are not going to let him slip back to old habits.

How are things going now, any new thoughts or feelings on this @Lauren ?

Sending :heart:


@Danielapa3 that’s amazing you have some measures in place to reality check the situation.


Hi @polly thank you so much for sharing! :slight_smile: Since the relapse, I have been able to understand what triggers occurred that led to it which has helped. And I’m happy to say that it has been three weeks since it happened and he has remained sober since that time! In your experience, have you found that your family and friends have a good understanding about addiction and relapses? Since it is so new, our families have had mixed reactions and ways of handling it that haven’t been helpful for neither him or I. Most likely because they are just confused and scared, but it’s causing me to not want to share as much with them. Did you have to explain a lot to them, or were they supportive in the right way from the start? Thanks!!


That’s great to hear @Lauren !!
I’ve really had to educate them and lead by example with family and friends, they definitely now take their cues from me as to how worried to be…which can sometimes feel a bit of a burden and still they do provide a reality gut check which can also feel abrasive at times! It’s a tricky balance. I think the more we share the more they have opportunity to learn and support us. Not always easy though :heart: