Recovering from an addiction is one of the hardest things to go through, but it’s made more bearable when you have the love and support of your family and friends.
In this article, we’re going to discuss the best ways to be a beacon of love, support and encouragement for your loved one when they’re in the midst of their recovery journey.
Things not to do
There is no one way to provide family support in addiction recovery, but there are certain things you don’t want to do because they can be harmful or counterproductive to your loved one’s recovery. Here are three things to avoid:
Refer to them as an addict. Calling someone an addict (whether they’re actively in recovery or actively struggling with addiction) sources someone’s entire identity in addiction, which is not only degrading, but can perpetuate the temptation to use and/or relapse.
Bring up their past. Some people think reminding their loved one of the suffering they endured (and perhaps caused) when they were addicted might serve as motivation for sobriety, but it’s counterproductive to their progress and recovery. Help your loved one stay forward-focused, rather than stuck in the past.
Act as if the addiction never happened. Sometimes we can be so ready to leave the pain of the addiction in the past that we start acting as if it never happened. You don’t want to walk on eggshells around your loved one or treat them as if they’re going to break, but you do have to accept certain things will be different in their life and your relationship post-addiction.
Ways to support a loved one
When it comes to providing family support in addiction recovery, there are countless ways to do so; we’re going to share with you some of the best ways to offer your love and encouragement.
1. Learn about addiction and recovery
There are still many harmful stigmas and stereotypes that prevent countless people from seeking help and achieving sobriety. This is primarily due to perpetuated ignorance and untrue beliefs that are passed on through generations, both within families and whole cultures. Seek out reputable resources and inform yourself of the nature of addiction and recovery.
2. Offer substance-free fun
Often one of the hardest adjustments for people in recovery is learning how to have fun without drugs or alcohol. By doing a little research and channeling your imagination, you can help your loved one live a healthy and happy life, all without the need or desire for substances.
3. Vocalize your support
Your loved one may be afraid or embarrassed to ask for help, so make the first move; vocalize you’re there for them and want to help them in recovery in whatever way you can.
4. Listen to them
People can easily become overwhelmed with all of the sessions, meetings, advice and “rules” they receive in recovery. Sometimes all your loved one wants and needs is to talk to you.
5. Be patient.
Recovery takes time, discipline and commitment; your loved one is simultaneously experiencing the death of their old life as well and having to build a new, sober life.
6. Reduce stress
Family stress is one of the leading triggers that can exacerbate mental health issues (such as depression and anxiety) as well as contribute to a drug or alcohol relapse. Become aware of the unnecessary friction and drama in your home and relationships so you can do your part to develop healthy communication and create a safe space for open dialogues and emotions.
7. Be an example
Whether or not you personally practice sobriety, you can still inspire your loved one through your own life. This could mean cooking healthy foods, exercising, practicing mindful habits (such as journaling, meditation, self-love), getting involved in your community and more.
8. Set healthy boundaries
Oftentimes boundaries are broken (or not established at all) when someone is actively struggling with addiction, and this can continue into recovery. It’s important to become aware of any co-dependency, enabling, “crutch” habits and other such unhealthy behaviors in order to best support your loved one (and protect yourself) in recovery.
9. Know the signs of relapse.
Relapse can happen, but it’s not a sign your loved one is a lost cause; for many people, relapse is actually an important experience for solidifying their commitment to recovery.
Some of the signs of relapse include:
- Associating with people and places associated with prior use
- Suspicious changes in mood or behavior
- Glamorizing the past and prior substance use
- Not going to meetings or engaging in sober social events
- Openly criticizing or rejecting the recovery process
If your loved one seems to be falling back into old habits or you suspect a relapse has or is actively happening, seek professional help promptly.
10. Reach out for help
If you or someone you love is struggling with an addiction or perhaps has suffered from a relapse since completing a rehabilitative program, send us a message today.
Our team here at October Road is here to help, no matter where you’re at in your journey.