How long should a family put up with a loved one’s chronic relapsing? This is a tricky question to answer. There are some people who will do whatever it takes to support the addict. Others have the notion that there is a time limit, and when that is reached, it is healthier to let them go. No matter what you think, it is a very difficult decision for any family to make and there is no clear answer on the subject.
There are some addicts who go into rehab, are discharged and never drink or drug again. There are others who spend up to a month in an inpatient facility and the minute they get out they relapse. It can be comforting for a family to know that when a loved one enters treatment that they are safe from using for the time being. Unfortunately, the patient cannot live in such a place forever and eventually will have to re-enter society, with temptations always an arm’s length away. That is the reality of addiction.
Recovery can be a beautiful thing. I have heard of patients who relapsed for years and then something clicked within the person and they finally got it. The problem is that you never know when that is going to happen. What clicks for one person may not for the other. It is an individual realm of being that occurs which leads someone to think enough is enough and he or she is done relapsing. This puts family and friends in an awkward spot never knowing when the miracle could happen. But the important thing for a family to know is that it can happen and has for many people. As they say in the rooms of Alcoholics Anonymous, don’t quit before the miracle happens!
A recent article discusses one man’s take on drug addiction and the turmoil an addict can cause a family. So, it is the addict who makes the choice to use or not. A family who chooses to support or not support a relapse is never to blame for the outcome. There is no clear answer for how to deal with a person who chronically relapses. I wish there were. What I would say to families is do your best to keep yourself healthy. Be mindful of potential co-dependency and enabling issues.