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'Step By Step' 

Dear Minerva,

I have an alcoholic friend who recently relapsed. Generally, they are really good and stay true to their recovery, however, every time they relapse they seemingly end up in a dangerous situation. They often hurt themselves from recklessness and I worry for their safety. I want to be supportive of their recovery, but am not sure how to best handle these rare and hazardous relapses?

Sincerely,

—A Concerned Friend

Dear Concerned,

Watching the struggles of our addict friends can be heartbreaking because there is a certain amount of helplessness on our part. Ultimately, it is up to your friend to make the choice to be healthier. What you describe is beyond partying and if they've sought treatment, then they know that, too. Since this isn't a secret, talk to your friend about it and establish a protocol in the instances when they relapse. Let them know their relapses are scary and concerning. It can be as simple as a code word to let others know they are in a relapse or as elaborate as a series of people to contact to help. This is why sponsors are so helpful for some people in recovery. Recovery is an ongoing process. The best thing you can do is be patient with your friend. Remember, people only change when they are good and ready. There are bound to be stumbles along the way. They shouldn't give up and you shouldn't give up on them. They need stability more than ever now.

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