One thing we never do at TLC is get excited when someone relapses. After all, part of the process of getting sober for many of us was to have our butts kicked by drugs and alcohol over and over until we realized that substances just didn't work for us. So when clients relapse we almost always give them another chance if they express a sincere desire to change.
For many of us, it took losing everything over and over because we were too hard-headed to get the message the first time. Many of us - myself included - somehow weren't smart enough to connect the misery in our lives with the fact that were addicts, alcoholics, or both.
I've known addicts who kept cycling for years through a journey of addiction, then getting sober, then relapsing again. Sometimes they would take a detour to prison, jail, to a mental hospital, or homelessness. Whatever path they took they ended up in a worse place than before. Only when the pain became intense enough do we addicts decide to change course. I speak with authority because that's what happened to me.
Many times I've had parents want to take a son or daughter home so they could pamper them with home cooking and better living conditions. Several years back a pastor and his wife took their son from our program before he was ready to graduate - against our advice. About a year later I encountered the pastor and his wife in an elevator at an airport. And I inquired as to how the son was doing.
They told me that he'd overdosed on cocaine a few months after they took him out of the program. Even though I'd advised against them taking him home, I felt so bad for them because I knew they suffered from his untimely death and blamed themselves for it..
While not everyone who relapses dies, there are a wide range of potential consequences - short of death - that will often inspire a client to return.
We just hope he or she lives until they reach that decision.