Addiction has the potential to devastate relationships. If you love someone who struggles with addiction, then the truth in that statement likely resonates deeply.
As a family member or friend of someone who struggles with addiction, you need to build your own toolbox of resources as you support them on their recovery journey.
Keep reading to find out how to support your loved one in healthy ways.
1. Have Hope
It is easy to hear all the numbers that are frequently quoted about addiction and the number of people who relapse. Most people have seen the Sandra Bullock movie, 28 Days, and they have heard the 1 in 3 people relapse statistic.
Hearing numbers like this is scary. It can be easy to hyper-focus on your loved one’s addiction recovery.
However, if you are nagging, smothering, or engaging in other unhealthy behaviors towards your loved one, it will push them away. While they need you to support them, you cannot walk their path for them.
Here is a more hopeful number for you, in 2017, estimates stated that there were 22 million people in recovery.
2. Educate Yourself
If you do not understand addiction, then educate yourself. It is hard to support someone’s disease if you do not understand it.
Research addiction and any addiction treatment they may be undergoing. Research detox symptoms, recovery, and more to find out how you can support your loved one through every stage of the process. The rehab facility your loved one goes to may be able to help you with the education process.
Talk to the person you love and find out what they need from you. Ask if you can be part of sessions, when appropriate, to learn what they are learning. However, be sure to respect their privacy.
3. Change With Them
Life after rehab is going to look different for the person you love. While in rehab they will build their own toolbox. They may learn to practice mindfulness or use other techniques to help them with cravings and maintaining sobriety.
Engage in new hobbies with them. Learn mindfulness and practice with them. Cook healthy meals together.
Let the conversation be natural and just do life with them. This will not only help the person you love to practice new behaviors but it will allow you to rebuild your relationship that may have been damaged.
Building a healthy relationship is a benefit of its own. People who are engaged in meaningful healthy relationships have less stress, are healthier, have healthier habits, have a better sense of purpose, and live a longer life.
4. Take Care of Yourself
Self-care is just as important for you as it is for your loved one. Taking care of yourself involves the physical and mental. Make sure you are getting enough sleep and eating well.
Take time for yourself to explore your feelings and relax. Have open and honest discussions. If you are struggling with your emotions find someone you can talk to and work through your emotions with.
This could be a friend, another family member, or support groups like Al-Anon, or Nar-Anon. Consider counseling for yourself, it is okay to ask for help. Support groups for families and friends of individuals who struggle with addiction exist because the addiction does not just affect the person with an addiction.
5. Set Boundaries
While you want to support your loved one, it is not healthy for you to be at their beck and call. It is important to understand the difference between enabling and supporting. If you set boundaries but then allow your loved one to violate them it is a form of enabling.
Enabling essentially protects someone with addiction from experiencing the consequences and impact of their behavior. Enabling someone allows them to not take responsibility.
Many behaviors can fall under the category of enabling. Understanding these behaviors will help you understand when you are engaging in them.
If you are bailing the person out of situations financially, keeping secrets about the behavior, making excuses about behavior, or doing things for the person, you are enabling. Your actions prevent the person from experiencing the natural consequences of their behavior.
As long as they do not have to take responsibility for their behavior, they will not. It may be difficult to set boundaries and enforce them. There may be some feelings of bitterness and anger that need processed when you change how you respond.
However, ultimately it creates a healthier relationship as you work through these things.
6. Remove Temptation
Is your loved one coming home to you after leaving a rehab facility? Make sure that the home is empty of drugs and alcohol. If you have prescriptions, lock them up and hide the key.
When you go out to eat, choose non-alcoholic beverages with them. If you have friends that engage in a lifestyle of substance abuse, stay away from those gatherings and find new activities to enjoy together that support a sober lifestyle.
7. Understand Relapse
Relapse happens. However, it does not mean the person you love failed. It simply means that for the moment they need extra support.
Remember that addiction is a disease. When relapse happens it does not mean that long-term sobriety is at risk. Talk to your loved one and be a support.
Make sure that you share your concerns in a way that is kind and non-judgmental. Encourage them to talk to their sponsor, counselor, or attend a support group meeting.
Recovery Is a Journey
Recovery is a lifelong process and your loved one will need your support. Make sure you take care of yourself and set healthy boundaries on this path.
If you want to know more about addiction or addiction treatment options, take the time to check out Serenity Grove. Serenity Grove is a dual diagnosis treatment center that is here to support you and your loved one through the recovery journey. Contact us today for more information or questions.
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