by Jeff Fisher on September 4, 2013
RESTORE, DON’T BERATE
One of the worst things, but also the most common, is to berate the addict for lying to them or not being open with them. The last thing the addict needs is to have even more guilt and shame flung on him. He has enough of his own already and if he is married he will likely be hit with more than he can handle. Restoration is the job of the group/accountability partners. Getting him back on track in recovery and helping him get rid of the things he has built up to facilitate acting out is essential. Grace and compassion are needed regardless of how hurt we may feel as accountability partners. We have been wounded by the addict but we MUST put our own hurts aside and show them the love and mercy that in Christ, God has shown us.
HELP HIM REBUILD
Once we have helped the addict get back into recovery we have to work on getting him out of the addictive lifestyle that he has rebuilt. This is a difficult stage as the addict has very strong emotional ties to these things and may be angry at any attempt to disrupt his carefully planned rituals but it MUST happen for him to be free. A greater level of accountability is necessary after a relapse. The addict should be willing to meet with someone (AP, group, counselor) at least 3 times a week but 4-5 is even better. Getting them into a lifestyle of accountability will help them get out of the addictive lifestyle.
As an AP you should be aware that just because an addict has come forward and been open with his acting out/relapse it does not mean that he is free from it. He has spent a lot of time building up his addictive life and is very protective of it. Wisdom and insight are required as well as a firm, loving hand. Don’t be fooled and don’t be harsh. Also, don’t let your own feelings get in the way.
ENCOURAGE AND ACCEPT
Discouragement and a sense of failure are huge for someone who has been in recovery for a long time and then slips. Having been in this very situation in my own recovery more than once I can say that the most effective thing someone did for me was encourage me. Addicts already feel inadequate and rejection only helps feed the addiction. Acceptance and encouragement make a world of difference.
Spending time with him afterwards and talking about what setup the slip and what triggers were present will help him be aware of them next time he is tempted.
Be available for the addict to contact you when he is feeling tempted. Let him know that he can call or e-mail you whenever he feels weak. Pray for him regularly and encourage him.