How to Avoid Relapse Around Addicted Family Members

When you leave the lifestyle of active addiction, one of the biggest challenges is reconnecting with people from your old life. Many of them knew you when you were using, and some of them might still be using, too. However, what can you do when the person in your life who’s still using is a family member?

Dealing with drug use in your family is always a challenge. Knowing the difference between helping and enabling can be difficult at times. And watching someone go through something as terrible and life-altering as active addiction can cause heartache. However, when you have your own recovery and sobriety to consider, the challenge increases dramatically.

Maintaining your sobriety is one of the most important ongoing parts of your recovery, and it requires continual commitment. If a loved one is using around you, it poses a significant threat to your drug abstinence. Learn more about how you can deal with an addicted family member without relapsing.  

Don’t Accept Drug Use

As part of your relapse prevention plan, you might have set rules and boundaries for yourself. You might have resolved to avoid parties where you know there will be drug use. You may even avoid certain routes that go past some of your old favorite bars.

When you encounter friends and family members who are still in the throes of active addiction, it’s important to have boundaries for them, too. If you live with or spend a lot of time with someone who uses, you should let them know that you won’t tolerate drug use in your presence. If someone uses legal recreational substances like alcohol, you can still tell them that it makes you uncomfortable to be around it.

Setting clear boundaries for yourself removes some of the uncertainty when it comes to certain high-risk situations. It’s easier not to cross the line when the line is clearly drawn. Setting boundaries with someone who is addicted can also show them your commitment to sobriety. In some cases, you may have to cut ties with them until they seek recovery.

Avoid Constant Triggers

Triggers are a fact of life for people who are living in recovery from addiction or other mental health issues for that matter. Some triggers come from inside your own mind and can be difficult to avoid completely. Others can come on suddenly, like when a billboard ad for some ice-cold beer triggers alcohol cravings. While it’s important to learn to cope positively with cravings and triggers, you should also avoid regular sources of triggers when you can. A friend or family member who continues to use around you can cause you to continually cause you to have thoughts and triggers toward relapse, testing the limits of your coping mechanisms.

If you have gone through addiction treatment, you may have experienced elements ofcognitive behavioral therapy at some point in your treatment process. In the cognitive-behavioral model, high-risk scenarios are the first catalyst for a relapse. A relapse doesn’t start with the first time you use again; it starts with the way that you cope with a high-risk situation. If you live with, or if you are always around someone who uses, you are constantly in a high-risk scenario. Relapse is a very real threat to recovery. Like other chronic diseases, addiction relapse occurs in more than50 percent of people in recovery.  

Avoiding triggers might mean distancing yourself from people who are still using. While this may sound harsh, it might be as beneficial to your addicted family member as much as it is for you.

Don’t Be an Enabler

While you were going through active addiction and treatment, your family may have had to learn how to avoidenabling behaviors. Now that you’ve completed treatment, and you’re encountering other people in your life in active addiction, it’s important to learn to avoid enabling as well. If a family member is struggling with active addiction, you, more than anyone, understand what they are going through. You might want to help them, ease their pain, or cover for them.

However, enabling is often defined as shielding an addicted person from a consequence of their addiction. Softening the blows that are coming as a result of their actions and behaviors can prolong the time they spend in active addiction before seeking help. If you’ve set clear rules about being around drug and alcohol use and abuse and a family member continues to break them, one of the consequences of their addiction might be that they see you less often.

It may seem like a drastic move, but if a family member is putting your sobriety at risk, it might be best to remove yourself from those high-risk situations. You can let the addicted person in your life know that you will be there to help them find addiction treatment as soon as they agree to seek the help they need. However, risking your own sobriety to be around someone who is using, may only serve to enable them and risk your recovery.

Continue Your Recovery

Addiction treatment is important in achieving and learning how to maintain sobriety. However, after you complete your addiction treatment, it’s important to continue your pursuit of recovery. People often relapse when they become complacent in their recovery process, and when you encounter high-risk situations like a using family member, it puts a strain on your resolve. However, going to 12 step meetings, connecting with your support group, and connecting with your alumni coordinators, can help heal you on the road to recovery, even as new challenges pop up.

Seeking Addiction Help

If a loved one or family member is ready to address their substance use disorder, you might be able to help them find the right addiction treatment services for their needs. Call the addiction treatment specialists at The Palm Beach Institute at 855-534-3574 or contact us online to learn more about the available therapy options and how you can help your loved one get the care they need. If you are worried that you might need help preventing your own relapse, or if you’ve started to use again, we might be able to help you find additional treatment or aftercare services as well. Call anytime.


Breaking Down the 12 Steps for the Addict

A 12-step program provides just the roadmap some recovering users need to get back on track after substance addiction. This common approach to addiction recovery keeps many people focused on their long-term health and sobriety as they work toward rebuilding their lives and strengthening their resolve to put down the drugs and alcohol for good.

Some popular 12-step programs are:

  • Alcoholic Anonymous (AA)
  • Narcotics Anonymous (NA)
  • Gamblers Anonymous (GA)
  • Cocaine Anonymous (CA)
  • Crystal Meth Anonymous (CMA)
  • Al-Anon and Alateen (a group for people who have been affected by someone else’s drinking)

Twelve-step programs are used to address various kinds of addictions and are incorporated into treatment approaches “always or often” or “sometimes” at about 73 percent of treatment centers, according to the 2016 National Survey of Substance Abuse Treatment Services.

These free or low-cost programs require participants to meet regularly at a scheduled time in a public place, such as a church, to share stories about their experiences with alcoholism and drug addiction. They do so in hopes of encouraging one another in working toward shared goals.

These meetings are intended to be safe spaces for people in recovery who wish to use their weaknesses, doubts, fears, and personal truths and perspectives to help other people who are going through similar experiences. Each of the 12 steps must be worked in the order they appear though there is some flexibility in how sponsors can walk their sponsees through the steps.

Alcoholics Anonymous, an international fellowship Bill Wilson founded in 1935 to help people struggling with alcoholism, is the original 12-step program, and its blueprint has provided the foundation for other programs, both secular and nonsecular.

For some who are on the fence about joining a 12-step fellowship whose foundation is faith-based, the biggest obstacle to adopting the 12 steps is the spiritually focused language wording of the steps. There are, however, objective ways to look at the steps for them to be adaptable to any belief system.

If you will are entering a treatment program or have gone through treatment, you may come to realize that the basic concepts outlined in the steps can be applied to your daily life. This article will focus on the original 12 steps and explain them to help people who are interested in giving them a try.

An overview at the 12 Steps

Step 1: We admitted we were powerless over our addiction—that our lives had become unmanageable.

In the first step of the 12-step program of Alcoholics Anonymous or Narcotic Anonymous, it is realized that people who are struggling with addiction must admit our lives have become a mess and that we are responsible for creating the messes our lives have become because of our addictions. This step is about admitting the truth, the pull of addiction is greater than us, and that we need outside help.

Step 2: Came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.

The second step is about hope, faith, and ultimately, realization. This is a step toward God or what our conception of God is to us. Ultimately, this step is about the process of stepping outside of ourselves and give up control. Whether recovering users are agnostic, atheist, or former believers, everyone can stand together in this step. True humility and an open mind can lead us to recovery. Click here to learn more about how the second step can help people recovering from substance abuse deal with cravings as they abstain from substance use.

Step 3: Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood God.

The third step does two things. First, we decide to turn our will over to the care of God, or a Higher Power of our understanding, and to trust God or a Higher power with our recovery. Second, we decide to turn our lives over to the care of God, as we understand Him. This step calls for affirmative action, for it is only by action that we can cut away the self-will and ego that prevents us from being humble and seeking help.

Some have said the third step is an affirmation to take action and finish the rest of the steps, whether your belief that you will is strong or not. It is a step that requires us to engage in a great deal of reflection and acceptance of ourselves.

Step 4: Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves.

The purpose of a searching and fearless moral inventory is to sort through the confusion and the contradiction of our lives so that we can find out and face the facts of who we are. This is important as we aim to understand the new path we are creating for ourselves. This is also a time to reflect on past and present relationships with people who have played a significant role in our lives and think about how our actions have affected them. In the simplest terms, the fourth step is the soul-searching step of the 12 steps, and we chronicle both the good and bad in each of us.

Step 5: Admitted to God, to ourselves, and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs.

Step 5 has been called the key to freedom. After we complete the moral and personal inventory in the fourth step, we now have to admit our shortcomings to God, our Higher Power, and others whom we have wronged. This can be hard after believing our own half-truths, excuses, rationalizations, and justifications of what we do for so long. Despite that, this step must be done. For many, this step is the most difficult one, but once it is completed, we have nothing left to hide. We will be on our way to attaining relief on a mental, emotional, and spiritual level.

Step 6: Were entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character.

The sixth step is one about preparation and reflection, and upon closer examination, the theme of the sixth step is willingness. Willingness occurs between the time we are ready to make changes in our lives (preparation) and the time we make the change in our lives and behave in ways that support those changes (action). It is also the step where we as newly recovering addicts realize that the journey of recovery is marked by small victories and gradual improvement and progress.

Step 7: Humbly asked God to remove our shortcomings.

The seventh step indicates a change in attitude that allows our humility to be our guide. According to, Step 7 is similar to Step 3. “[Step 7] is more specific, however, because now I have completed my personal inventory, and so I have a better idea of the roots of my addictive behaviors. I do my best to not play games about these defects of character. In this step I surrender to the ‘surgery of God’ and ask God to remove these defects of character,” it writes on its website. This step is also one of action as it requires us to remove the sources of addiction and temptation that cause us to stumble or fall.

Step 8: Made a list of all persons we had harmed and became willing to make amends to them all.

The eighth step is about making amends to all the people we have wronged. It promotes healing from past hurts and reaching out to others who have been wounded by hurtful actions.

We are putting into action what was started in Step 4. During this step, we must make a list of everyone we have wronged and set out to make amends with these people. This list is a good place to start for having those difficult conversations. It may help to write down any thoughts that come to mind next to each person’s name and reflect on what the proper amends might be for that person.

It is important to note the difference between amends and apologies. The Hazelden Betty Ford Foundation site writes, “An amend has to do with restoring justice as much as possible. The idea is to restore in a direct way that which we have broken or damaged—or to make restoration in a symbolic way if we can’t do it directly.” It is a sincere change in how we behave and treat others.

The site goes on to explain that borrowing $20 from someone and apologizing for not paying it back is one thing, but giving the person’s $20 back to them is actually making amends.

Step 9: Made direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others.

The ninth step completes what was started in the eighth step. We should make amends when the first opportunity presents itself. However, there is one exception, and that’s when making amends will cause more harm than good. Sometimes we cannot make amends; it is neither possible nor practical, and we just have to accept that. However, we should never fail to reach out to someone out of embarrassment, fear, or procrastination.

Step 10: Continued to take personal inventory and when we were wrong promptly admitted it.

Step 10 lays out the foundation for the rest of the recovering person’s life. In this step, we are vigilant against addictive behavior and the triggers for the addictive behavior. If we engage in this type of behavior, we admit our shortcomings and move past them.

Step 11: Sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with God as we understood God, praying only for knowledge of God’s will for us and the power to carry that out.

The 11th step provides a continual reality check, and we focus on spiritual needs as our base. Whether it is meditation, prayer, or another spiritual way of connecting with your Higher Power, the 11th step is where you begin your journey of spiritual growth.

Step 12: Having had a spiritual awakening as the result of these steps, we tried to carry this message to other addicts, and to practice these principles in all our affairs.

Step 12, the final step, involves being of service to those who are struggling with abuse by carrying the message that recovery is possible. This mainly points to taking another through the steps the same way your sponsor took you through them. Sharing the message can be as simple as speaking at a meeting, to being a sponsor to just being a nice person. The 12th step is not an end, but a beginning. It is the beginning of the ultimate journey for growth and continued freedom from drugs and alcohol.

Need Help With Ending Addiction?

To truly understand the power of the steps, one must be in a clear frame of mind. The Palm Beach Institute begins educating and assisting our clients through the journey of the steps as soon as they enter treatment. If you or a loved one is struggling with a drug and alcohol addiction, call us today at 1-855-470-2050 and take the first step towards continued recovery with The Palm Beach Institute.

What is EMDR Therapy?

Eye movement desensitization reprocessing (EMDR) therapy is a form of psychotherapy that is designed to mimic REM sleep. It’s primarily used to treat post-traumatic stress and phobias.

Addiction—and mental health issues in general—can be oppressive forces in your life. If you are looking for help overcoming those obstacles, it’s good to explore every tool available to you. EMDR therapy is one such tool. As a relatively young psychotherapeutic technique, it started in 1989 as an idea that was heavily based on theory. Today, it is an evidence-based therapy that has proven to be useful in combating post-traumatic stress disorder, and it’s showing promise in treating other disorders like addiction and anxiety as well.

However, there is still some controversy surrounding EMDR therapy and its methodology. Is it an exciting new psychotherapeutic method or is it a re-written cognitive behavioral therapy?

What is EMDR Therapy?

Eye movement desensitization reprocessing therapy focuses on addressing painful, frightening, or traumatic memories that might be the underlying cause of certain psychological issues. EMDR is most commonly used to help people who have post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

PTSD is an anxiety disorder that’s characterized by flashbacks, memories, or stimuli that trigger the fight-or-flight response. Triggers can cause anything from anxiety to a panic attack and contribute to a higher risk factor for suicide and self-harm. PTSD was first studied in response to soldiers in or returning from the World Wars. The term post-traumatic stress was used in the 1970s and was first diagnosed in the context of the Vietnam War.

PTSD is often associated with combat trauma, but it can also come as a result of other traumatic events such as assault, rape, and child abuse. In fact, over half of rape survivors develop PTSD.

EMDR targets negative memories and emotions that may have led to mental health disorders. Because negative memories can contribute to other disorders like phobias and addiction, EMDR is now experimentally applied to new disorders.

How EMDR Therapy Works

In 1989, EMDR therapy was developed by Francine Shapiro after she noticed that her own negative feelings subsided as her eyes moved back and forth on a walk through the woods. The calming effect led her to the hypothesis that rhythmic eye movement can mimic REM sleep.

Rapid eye movement (REM) is a phase of sleep in which your body achieves the deepest state of rest and self-healing. During this phase, your eyes will move rhythmically and rapidly. You will also experience dreams and higher brain activity during REM sleep.

Shapiro believed that simulating REM was the key component that allowed patients to reprocess painful memories. However, it has since been found that other forms of stimuli are also effective, like musical tones or tapping your feet.

In EMDR therapy, you will talk through traumatic experiences or negative emotions as prompted by the therapist. While you do this, you will focus on a bilateral stimulation, or an unrelated physical or auditory stimulus. Traditionally, this is when the therapist will move their finger back and forth while the patient follows with their eyes.

The goal is to help desensitize you to memories and triggers that would cause anxiety or panic. Theoretically, focusing on another task simultaneously while discussing negative feelings help the patient reprocess memories and emotions.

Criticisms of EMDR Therapy

Since its inception, parallels have been drawn between EMDR therapy and cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT). In both, the end goal is to reprocess thought to facilitate mental healing. Both involve a therapist talking a patient through their memories and emotions. However, unlike CBT, EMDR doesn’t involve detailed recounting of the traumatic event, or, in fact, some critics say that the eye movement and finger following might be altogether unnecessary.

According to a study in 2001, “EMDR appears to be no more effective than other exposure techniques, and evidence suggests that the eye movements integral to the treatment, and to its name, are unnecessary.” This proposes that talking through your memories with a therapist yield EMDR and you could take or leave the bilateral stimuli.

Still, since EMDR therapy has seen study after study point to its apparent efficacy, it’s made its way into researched-based treatments, making it distinct from other, unproven options like hypnotherapy. But the jury is still out on how and why EMDR works. There is a question as to whether or not bilateral stimulus is helpful and there seems to be little evidence to suggest that eye movement specifically has any benefit.

However, it’s clear that that EMDR is a helpful treatment for post-traumatic stress and, in the last few years, it has shown to be a promising option for other disorders as well.

EMDR Therapy in Addiction Treatment

According to some studies, EMDR has not only shown the ability to desensitize patients with negative feelings, but it weakens the power of positive ones as well. That may sound like a bad thing, but it’s extremely helpful in addiction treatment. Since addiction is a disease that primarily affects the reward center of the brain, former users may remember the experience of getting high as an extremely positive one.

Users of powerfully addictive drugs like heroin often describe their addiction like they are chasing their first time using. But it’s never quite as good. Even after addicts go into recovery, they may remember the experience of getting high as incredibly positive, despite negative consequences. That feeling can trigger strong cravings that risk relapse.

A 2015 study looked at the potential for EMDR in addiction treatment and determined that it could help in making memories of addictive behavior less powerful and vivid. By reducing cravings, EMDR can help people in recovery avoid relapse.

However, traditional addiction treatment like medical detox, cognitive behavioral therapy, and 12-step programs are still the leading options when it comes to evidence-based treatment. If you or a loved one is in need of addiction treatment and would like to know more about your options, call the Palm Beach Institute at 855-534-3574 or contact us online today. It could be your first step towards lifelong recovery.

Dialectical Behavior Therapy: How It Works

Though Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) is still considered a relatively new treatment method in the psychiatric world, having only been developed in the ‘80s and ‘90s, it has proven to be an incredibly effective method of addressing substance abuse.

The Palm Beach Institute offers DBT in our addiction treatment programs, but for those unfamiliar with the therapeutic style, here is a quick guide on what to expect:

What Is Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT)?

Dialectical Behavior Therapy (also called Dialectical Behavioral Therapy) is an evidence-based therapeutic practice used to help substance abusers who are suicidal or those with borderline personality disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder, and other psychiatric disorders.

DBT was developed by Marsha M. Linehan, PhD, who realized people who were suicidal may not have the appropriate coping mechanisms necessary to process their personal life problems. If therapists were too hurtful in their criticism for their clients to change their ways, rather than having the patient buck up and do so, it would make matters worse.

Thus, the principles of Dialectical Behavior Therapy were formed: give clients constructive criticism that both accepts the person as they are while also simultaneously encouraging them to improve their lives. These opposing goals form a “dialect,” both confronting their behavior while affirming their mental state. This helps clients feel validated for their emotions and beliefs, but also be able to come to an understanding that they need to change their thought processes in order to improve their lives.

How Does Dialectical Behavior Therapy Work?

Dialectical Behavior Therapy assumes that the client is doing the best that he or she can, but that he or she also needs to learn new behavior, similar to components taught in Cognitive Behavioral Therapy.

DBT’s goals are to give clients motivation to change by setting achievable goals, teach life skills to use both during and after treatment, restructuring their environment to be void of triggers and temptation, providing relapse prevention education, and building healthy behaviors and social connections.

Once the client begins to be receptive to DBT, then four modules can be put into action:

Mindfulness: Clients are taught to focus on the present instead of the past or future and to accept internal and external happenings as they come without placing judgment on the experience or emotion. This allows clients to be aware of their self and surroundings before they come to accept them as they are.

Distress Tolerance:  Clients are taught relapse prevention techniques by developing skills on how to cope with situations that overwhelm them, make them anxious or depressed, or possibly trigger them into using/drinking again. DBT helps them gain the confidence and the knowledge to persevere through difficult events while also accepting that if a lapse does occur, it is not the end of the world either.

Interpersonal Effectiveness: Clients are taught how to set limits and learn to spot toxic behavior in themselves and in their relationships. DBT aims to reduce emotional vulnerability in the clients so that they may have the strength to build self-esteem and build healthy, positive relationships with people who care about their wellbeing.

Emotion Regulation: Clients are taught how to prevent themselves from acting on dangerous or self-harming impulses by learning how to identify, regulate, and experience their emotions in a rational manner. Clients are aware of the consequences of using drugs or drinking excessively so that they may remind themselves of their priorities to avoid reckless behavior.

Setting time-limited abstinent pledges is a major example of how Dialectical Behavior Therapy gives clients goals they can achieve. This can mean staying abstinent for one week or one day, 20 days or 20 minutes, whichever is a feasible goal for the client to achieve based on the status of their addiction and recovery.

Is Dialectical Behavior Therapy Effective?

Many studies have proven Dialectical Behavior Therapy to be very effective among clients who have a substance use disorder and are prone to suicide and self-harm.

One unique aspect of Dialectical Behavior Therapy is how the method approaches and addresses the event of a relapse. Regarded as “failing well,” relapses are used as learning experiences for the client, who will analyze what led to the relapse with their therapist.

This is to avoid the abstinence violation effect, where people who relapsed will give into self-hating thoughts and perpetuate their addiction further. For example, they might think, “I’m so stupid, always screwing up my life, so I might as well keep taking drugs and die.”

By acting quickly and teaching the person how relapses indicate how the therapy can improve, clients can approach their sobriety in a new light. Also note that many DBT skills training may involve a series of individual and group therapy sessions, lasting about 1 to 2.5 hours long and may span over 24 weeks. DBT understands that it takes time for people to change their thought processes and learn healthy behavior, but when given the patience and time to go about dialectical behavior therapy properly, clients are given an opportunity for success.

Need Addiction Treatment? Go to the Palm Beach Institute

The Palm Beach Institute offers Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) to our clients, especially if they have a history of self-harm and/or borderline personality disorder. At our facility, we are committed to providing all of our clients with a safe, nonjudgmental environment to allow them to grow and have the strength to begin a new life of sobriety.

If you or a loved one is struggling with substance abuse, it may be necessary to seek more drug and alcohol treatment. Come to the Palm Beach Institute, where we treat you like family, provide a supportive community, and work hard to teach inherent life skills to practice in recovery. Call our 24-hour helpline at (855) 534-3574 and start living sober today.