The tricky situation. The one where your roommate relapses. It happens frequently amongst the recovery community, whether you are in a halfway house, dating the person, or have moved in with a friend you’ve known for a while, the way to handle this can be, well, hard. Relapses are never easy. That is true for the person who is using and drinking as well as the person they live with. If you found yourself in this spot is important though, that you keep yourself safe and do ONLY what you can to help your roommate.
Here are three effective ways to handle a roommate relapse:
1. OPEN COMMUNICATION
This is key in any relationship. This is key in any roommate situation regardless if a relapse happens. Open communication makes sure that no one is holding grudges, that everything is out on the table, and that everyone is comfortable. So, if a relapse happens, go back to this key. Pretending like it isn’t happening or waiting for your roommate to come to you is a bad idea. Chances are your roommate is scared to open up. If you know your roommate is using and they haven’t said anything, ask them if there is a time you two can sit down and talk. If they have told they are using or drinking, still set a time to talk. When you talk, be honest about how you feel, and remember where they are at. Talk about the situation and what can be done to make sure both of you get the support and help you need. Recovery for yourself is most important, helping them if they want it is the next step.
2. FIND OUT IF THEY WANT HELP
Just booting your roommate or moving out and not talking to them is not only discouraging to your roommate but a bad way of handling things. Talk to them and ask them specifically if they want help. If they want help then ask them what you can do to help them. Can you hold them accountable? If you are just done with them, then communicate that and tell them that you will be there for them when they start doing the right thing but need to distance yourself. If they want help and are willing to go treatment etc. ask them if they need support.
If this has gotten to the point where they don’t want help or haven’t even mentioned it, it is okay to give them an ultimatum. Tell them, KINDLY, that it isn’t healthy for you or them to be in this situation. Let them know that if they don’t get help then the living situation is going to have to change. This is especially true if they haven’t been able to pay rent etc. Either they have go to go or vice versa. Lay it out for them in plain terms. Get help or get out. You can still be there for them even though it may feel like you are pulling the rug out from under the feet by booting them. Letting them stay may turn into enabling so make sure you are never sacrificing your own happiness for theirs in the living situation. If you find you are, you are enabling. Keep yourself safe and be there. The ultimatum may be the push they need.
Don’t Feel Obligated To Handle A Roommate Relapse On Your Own
If you find yourself in this position it is best to call for some support. In fact that is probably the first thing you should do. Each situation is unique so call for help, talk about it, and talk to your roommate. If you are in a halfway house make sure to tell a halfway house manager asap before things get out of hand. Someone’s relapse isn’t your secret to keep, that could end up harming your recovery. We aren’t on the street we are trying to get better, the whole snitching thing is BS. Do what you need to do to keep yourself ok first and find out how you can support that person after. This situation isn’t easy but you can get through it.