My Sober Living Roommate is Using - What Should I Do?

No one works a faultless program of recovery, and unfortunately relapse is common among addicts and alcoholics in early sobriety. As a result, it is likely you will eventually encounter a situation where you become aware that a roommate in sober living has returned to active substance abuse. This is a difficult situation for anyone, as you likely feel loyal to your roommate and do not want to cause them to lose their housing. On the other hand, you cannot have an active substance abuser living in your midst, as this puts everyone’s sobriety in jeopardy. What, then, is your best course of action in this scenario?

In a perfect world, your roommate would own up to their mistakes to their sponsor, sober supports, and your sober living house manager, accepting the consequences of their actions and reaching out for help to recover from this slip. While they may avoid taking this step as long as they believe their behavior is flying under the radar, if you confront your roommate directly about their relapse there is a good chance you can convince them to make the admission to others on their own. Of course, you should only opt for this action if you feel comfortable and safe talking to your roommate one on one about their use without fear of any physical reprisals on their part.

If you are unable to compel your roommate to disclose their relapse to your house manager, it is important you make them aware of the situation yourself. It may feel like you are “ratting out” your roommate and betraying their trust, but your speaking up could very well be the action that saves their life from a fatal overdose. Additionally, it is said in the rooms of recovery that we must be selfish when it comes to our sobriety, especially early on. You must put your own sobriety ahead of the wants and needs of your roommate and protect it by ensuring your environment is free from drugs and alcohol, and the way to do this is to disclose to your house manager that your roommate has had a relapse and is actively abusing substances.

No one in sobriety wants to harm another person attempting recovery, and it can often feel like we are harming a roommate in sober living if we are to expose their relapse to management. However, you need to remember a few concepts before you make the mistake of concealing your friend’s return to substance abuse. First, every instance of use places them at risk for fatal overdose, especially after a period of sobriety. Second, by allowing drugs and alcohol into your home you are placing yourself at risk for relapse, especially if it is a friend of yours who is abusing these substances. Therefore, if you have discovered a roommate of yours in sober living has relapsed and is using drugs or alcohol, it is imperative you ensure the appropriate people are made aware of the situation, either by compelling your friend to admit their slip on their own or by your informing management of the situation. You must protect your own recovery above all else, for if you succumb to relapse you will be of little service to yourself or anyone else in your life!