Healing after the relapse



My husband was SO CLOSE to a year of sobriety from benzodiazepines. We have been together since 2015 and this has been his longest time staying clean. His drug of choice was heroin, but he’s been clean from that for over 5 years thanks to methadone. He can’t seem to recognize that he has substance abuse problems with xanax. It was just over a week ago that I noticed he was acting off at our friends’ house for a bbq. This friend is actually one of his good friends from AA and he noticed too. Well of course I was fed lies on top of lies about how he didn’t take any pills, until he finally showed me a full Rx of some other type of antihistamine anxiety medication. I knew that wasn’t it because he was clearly on SOMETHING. Then he showed me another Rx filled the same day as the other Rx for a 2 week supply of Xanax from our local urgent care. I got rid of all of it, but he continued to get worse and finally admitted (after feeding me more lies about how he never wants to lie to me again) that he got pills from a coworker. Well that was a lie. I found a moneygram receipt in his wallet and knew he ordered from an online pharmacy as he’s done in the past. I called him out and he said he assumed he told me about it already. Every relapse takes away from my ability to trust him again. This time is the worst because he was doing so well for so long. I feel like there is still stuff going on behind my back and that the already has another order or rx refill in the works. He is still remaining active in AA, weekly addiction therapy sessions, and weekly meetings with his counselor at the methadone clinic. Outside of rehab (that he’s tried several times in the past), I don’t know what’s left. I don’t know how to trust my husband again. We have three kids and when he starts abusing pills again, he usually just goes and stays with his dad for a few days and then we sort of try to go back to normal. I don’t know how to stop being angry when it’s such an overpowering emotion through all of this. I know that he’s not trying to hurt me and I know he’s hurting too, but uncovering lies after the relapse with little to no effort on his end to learn how to regain my trust is leaving me feeling hurt and helpless. How do you heal after a relapse and get “back to normal”? We have an amazing relationship when he’s in recovery, but I’m worrying that I can’t get back to that because I feel like I have some PTSD from previous relapses and it all hits me again with the next one.

My loved one is coming home from treatment but I'm anxious about him relapsing again. What can I do to manage the anxiety?

I see a lot of positives in this post.

It’s so hard, @Cpacioni. When we’ve gone through so much and then feel like we fall so hard with each slip and relapse. My husband is recovering from heroin addiction. I try not to focus on how long he’s been clean (he hasn’t made it a full year since his last “big” relapse several years ago), but instead focus on how far we’ve come. Your husband has been clean from heroin for 5 years - that’s amazing! It must have been so hard for both of you to get through it. But you did. It’s possible. And you can do it again, but you probably already know that recovery is not a straight line. Getting clean doesn’t mean getting back to “normal.” It means living each day fighting those demons that make them lie, cheat, do everything in their power to get high and hide the addiction. I hate the demons. They’re always there. It means a lot of self work from everyone involved. It means communicating our fears instead of letting them take over, practicing gratitude when the what if’s start filling our heads, trusting the process and trusting ourselves and trusting the love. I don’t trust my husband fully anymore, but I do trust when he tells me he loves me and our son, and that he doesn’t want to be addicted, and that we want the same things. I hold on to that truth.

Yes, PTSD from loving an addict is definitely a thing. I’m constantly triggered during certain times of year, when I see certain behaviors, even if my husband is in the bathroom for too long. I’m sick of it. Just like our loved ones may be triggered, so can we. And just like they are constantly working on getting through those triggers without using, we can also work on getting through our triggers without freaking out or going back to our own unhealthy coping mechanisms.

Sending you love. I hope you’re able to find some peace and joy in your day today.


I too suffer from PTSD from years of loving addicts. You are not alone. Everyday is a struggle for me. Some days are good. Other days I’m riddled with anxiety, sadness, and anger towards myself for allowing my life to get to where it is. It’s really tough after a relapse especially when there’s been a long period of sobriety. For me this has happened recently. My S/O relapsed on alcohol after 4.5 months. We went from living a peaceful life of recovery and normality to the last four weeks of him drinking himself to oblivion. He finally sobered up on Monday. You would think this past week would be easier, but it’s not. I’m happy to have him back, but more scared of losing him again. I always feel I’m waiting for the ball to drop. Some things that help me during and after a relapse:

  1. Letting go of expectations
  2. Carrying on with normal life and taking care of myself
  3. Keeping with my boundaries
  4. Celebrating the successes
  5. Staying strong in my own recovery through meetings, books, therapy, and this site.
  6. Reminding myself that I am in control of only myself and how I choose to react or not react to what’s going on around me
  7. Being a support but also allowing him to decide
    what’s right for his own recovery
  8. Taking a step back when I need to

Getting back to normal is tough. So far we are taking it one day at a time. Today he was four days sober. The last four days have consisted of a bunch conversations about recovery and what he can do going forward to prevent this from happening again. He’s also trying to get back his physical and mental health and apartment back in order. What’s tough for me as I help him sort out what his next steps are is believing it will actually happen. He notorious for saying one thing and then two days later, we’re back to square one. Ahhh…:sob:

I know this might not be of great help, but I just wanted you to know you are not alone. I wish you lots of peace. I’d love to hear how things are going or how you help yourself during these tough times.



Thank you so much for your insight. This is my first attempt at seeking a support group and I already feel so much less alone. Last night he broke down and cried because he doesn’t think he deserves me or the kids because of how his actions hurt us. I told him that I know he’s not trying to hurt me and that we love him. I appreciate him showing those emotions last night. It was a nice healing session for both of us.


Thank you for sharing. Those are all things I need to work on. It’s so hard to see past red in the moment and get back on track when things begin to resettle. I hope your husband is remaining on the path to recovery and that you are healing.