What to think and do when they relapse after 6 months?



Hi all, it’s been a while since I’ve posted anything or even checked in. My partner has recently relapsed after his longest stint without alcohol, he made it 6 and a half months sober, an absolute milestone for him. In 2017 his drinking got so out of control I had to rush him to detox and he went through a 28 day rehab program. He had slips every month for about a year, then in in April of this year after another bad relapse, After though, he completely committed to his recovery. Was honest about his cravings and we had opened new lines of communication, and was attending meetings regularly. After 3 months of sobriety, the eagerness regarding his meetings stopped and we stopped going.
About a month ago, he got an evening job (I work days) so our normal routine got switched up and this created concern and worry for me. In the past, he’d never been able to keep a job longer than a week or two because his addiction would completely take over, he would get fired or end just end up quitting. But this time, after about a week he started refusing my rides to work and didn’t want to hangout with me (red flag for relapse). Finally, Tuesday morning he called in sick and told me he has been sneaking and drinking for a couple of weeks, something I had already suspected/smelled. Of course he assured me he was “fine” even though my chest was vibrating that wasn’t the case.
My heart is sad because all of that progress he made went out the window, but I’m more upset over the lies again. We were doing so well rebuilding the broken trust from years prior, it feels like this is such a setback in that regard. His parents and I aren’t acting mean or negative, we’ve been supportive and calm throughout, he however is very sad and down because of the guilt and shame that comes with relapsing. We’ve been together 3 years and I want a future, I want a family, I want to live with him, I told him that if he can stay honest and clean for 1 year then we can start planning to move in together, but it seems like that’s such a far off dream.


I’m so sorry you’re in this situation. I know it feels like you’re back at the beginning, but a relapse does not erase all of the hard work that both of you have put into the recovery the last 6 months. You know and have seen that recovery is possible. It’s not a straight line to the top, whatever the “top” means, once our loved ones get clean. It’s a squiggly mess that doesn’t look anything like we expected it to, and that’s the really hard part: letting go of expectations, letting go of your vision of recovery, what you think “sober” looks like, what you think your relationship is supposed to look like, how you think your partner is supposed to behave.

My husband relapsed after 8 years of being clean from heroin. Then he slipped several times within the last three years of recovery. Each time, I see him getting up quicker than the last, getting stronger. I also once told myself that after one year of him being clean, then I’ll know we’re ready to move on, and to start making big changes in our life. He technically hasn’t made that one year mark yet, but we’ve also stopped counting the days of sobriety because for us, they’re not helpful. There’s no magic light that starts shining after one year of being clean that assures us it’ll never happen again. There will be slips, there will be pain, there will be lies and forgiveness, and there will be joy and laughter again, too. And that’s the nature of any relationship. It’s hard work, for everyone.

Hold on to the positive in this: He told you the truth. He confessed to his sneaking and drinking on his own, which is a huge step for alcoholics and addicts who will do anything and everything to hide/protect their addiction. Trust is hard to build back. I’m still working on that, and learning that there’s so much more to trust than just being able to rely that someone else will do the right thing and never hurt me again. It’s about trusting yourself and trusting the good in people - a higher power, whatever that might mean to you.

There is always always always hope. Please remember that. :pray::sparkles:


I feel for you. I too am in love with a person who struggles with alcoholism. 6 months sober is awesome! I know all too well how sad it can make you feel when it seems like it was a fruitless cause. It wasn’t. That 6 months was true growth. Earlier this year I felt so hopeful when my partner was sober for three months. It was the most peaceful, beautiful time. Then he relapsed. Since then he has been in and out of recovery and has had several job losses and relapses. The thing that really gets to me is the sheer loneliness I feel when he starts the path of destruction again. We’ve had moments of chaos and moments of clarity. I try to think of growth as a spiral. You spiral up a bit and then sometimes back down. But I believe all the growth made during those spiral ups are ingrained. And this goes for me too and my struggles with co-dependency. Every time I get stronger, he gets stronger. I think it’s important for me to remain grateful for the growth and wisdom we’ve both gained on this journey.


Thank you, those are memorable words that I will hold close :smiling_face_with_three_hearts:


This story breaks my heart quite badly.
I am actually a recovering addict and would like to share what it means for me to build up trust with my daughter, my estranged wife, my parents and of course people I keep close to me.

For me, a relapse isn’t an instant decision especially if I’ve put in the hard work to maintain any measure of time in sobriety. Now being sober is easy but loving a life of recovery takes working a daily program that keeps me honest, open minded and willing to try new suggestions.

For me I have to let people know that my addictive mind is cunning baffling and powerful. I have the ability to lie about my addiction and not know it. Denial- don’t even notice I am lying.

But the reality is, is that I have behaviours that I can communicate to my loved ones which are warning signs of me going down the path of relapsing. These could be lack of communication, lies, clandestine behaviour, isolating, excuse making (for avoiding meetings or exercise or routine). Many of this are triggers to my family members to know that I am not doing okay. There is a plan in place to keep me from maintaining any of these warning signs by making sure I attend support meetings, stay accountable to a minimum of 5 people for different facets of my life be it spiritual, drug and alcohol testing, journaling and relationships. I need wise counsel to help me make life decisions because I don’t trust my thinking because my thinking causes me and others pain. And as soon as I am faced with pain and without the proper coping mechanisms then I will end up relapsing.

So in the end, a program of recovery is necessary and no job person or any measure of worldly gain will stop me from avoiding relapse if I don’t have the tools and support to manage day to day stress.
So I hope this helps a lot. Stay strong and don’t be afraid to put some boundaries down as you shouldn’t have to live with this pain either. Either there is a change in behaviour (which we do have the power to change) or there is a rock bottom that will get him there.