The adult son of my close friend recently overdosed. It was such a surprise as no one knew he had relapsed. I feel bad for not seeing what was happening. What could I have done differently? How did I miss this? I find myself worrying about all my friends in recovery now. What do I need to look for and what can I do if I suspect a friend has relapsed?
I’m so sorry about your friend’s son, accidental overdoses are so hard, especially when you thought the person was doing okay. Don’t blame yourself in thinking there was something that you missed or anything you could’ve done differently. The reality is there’s nothing you could’ve done. No amount of love, vigilance or checking on someone will keep them clean. That is so hard for people (like you) who want to help -but it’s ultimately up to the addict to make the decision to stay clean.
And as for your friends in recovery, share your concerns with them and ask how they are doing. If they are working a program and have a good support system, all you can do is continue to be the caring friend you obviously are.
The pandemic has brought a huge spike in relapse and addiction and as a result, accidental overdoses are growing at an alarming rate. Many times, in accidental overdoses, a person who has been sober or clean for a number of months and relapses, returns to the same amount they used before getting clean, but their body has lost its tolerance, and can overdose easily and unintentionally.
There are endless reasons why a person might relapse. Sometimes people who have suffered trauma or other hard life events want to numb the emotional pain and turn to drugs or alcohol. But with friends like you, their burdens will become lighter, and they can maintain their recovery. You are a good friend and have embodied the Jewish value of Tikkun Olam. The act of helping others does not require an outcome but is about working towards the goal of repairing the world that fulfills the mitzvah. Thank you for reaching out and bringing this difficult topic to the forefront.