Family is usually the first line of defense in the fight against addiction. When a loved one develops a substance abuse disorder, it can disrupt the entire family in devastating ways. Family may be the first to suffer the negative effects of a loved one’s substance abuse, but they are also the first people available to help overcome the disorder.
How To Help Your Loved One Through Recovery
Acknowledging a loved one’s substance abuse disorder is a difficult but necessary step to making a full recovery. Family members of a person struggling with addiction must realize the value of their positions. Family members are usually the first ones to encourage a struggling person into recovery, and it is almost impossible to overstate how important family is to the recovery process. Consider the following ten tips if you have a loved one in this situation. Family can be the first line of defense in promoting an effective recovery and preventing a relapse.
One: Avoid Enabling Behaviors
Many family members fall into the trap of enabling, that is unwittingly engaging in seemingly helpful behaviors but which actually prolong addiction. Before offering assistance to a loved one struggling with substance abuse, ask yourself if helping will make it easier for him or her to maintain the addiction. The loved one may be struggling to pay rent, but if all the money is spent on drugs, a family member covering rent would effectively prevent the loved one from facing the consequences of those actions.
Two: Help Your Loved One Make Appointments
Substance abuse recovery may entail a long-term inpatient or outpatient rehab program. Others find Twelve Step programs and support groups helpful. Ultimately, the best way to treat addiction is with a comprehensive and individualized treatment plan that addresses the full scope of an individual’s addiction. Helping your loved one make it to the Twelve Step sessions, counseling, and medical appointments is a great way to assist the recovery journey.
Three: Maintain Boundaries
You must remember that addiction can turn even the most generous person into a master manipulator. It is necessary to create clear boundaries for your loved one so he or she knows what is and is not acceptable in your relationship. You should strive to create boundaries that help keep your loved one on the path to sobriety.
Four: Be Patient
No two people experience substance abuse the same way. One person’s recovery journey may be much more difficult than the next person’s, and some people will relapse and reenter treatment multiple times before achieving sobriety. Be patient with your loved one, and remember that a relapse is not a failure, just another step toward recovery.
Five: Research Addiction
Many Americans have a working knowledge of addiction but may not realize the full gravity of a loved one’s struggle with substance abuse. Take time to research your loved one’s addiction, the potential medical complications it may cause, and available treatments. Helping a loved one through recovery will undoubtedly entail several important conversations, and it is very helpful to enter these conversations armed with knowledge from reputable sources and researchers.
Six: Help Your Loved One Build New Healthier Habits
The shock of returning to “normal” life after addiction can be jarring and alienating. You can potentially make the experience easier by helping your loved one learn new ways to decompress and process everyday stress. You can also help create a positive and supportive environment by helping your loved one find new hobbies and activities that encourage a healthier lifestyle.
Seven: Create A Safe And Supportive Environment
If you are hosting a loved one who just finished rehab, you should take time to make sure your home is a welcoming and supportive environment. This may require removing all alcohol and other substances from the home to minimize temptation, but this is a very small sacrifice compared to the potential good you are doing for your loved one in recovery.
Eight: Explore New Stress Relief Techniques
Stress is difficult for everyone, but for a person recovering from substance abuse, it can be a substantial trigger that invites the possibility of relapse. Help your loved one develop new stress relief techniques and encourage him or her to look for holistic stress-reduction techniques. You may find that weekly yoga classes or regular massages help ease everyday stress, and there are countless other opportunities for healthy stress relief beyond therapeutic treatment.
Nine: Be An Active Part Of The Recovery Process
Stay involved during your loved one’s recovery process, even after rehab. Do not simply assume that he or she made it through rehab so everything is fine now. Recovery is an ongoing commitment to a healthier lifestyle. Make yourself available, and be sure your loved one knows you are ready to help in the effort to maintain sobriety, whether that means driving him or her to Twelve Step sessions and counseling appointments or simply offering a friendly ear during difficult times.
Ten: Acknowledge The Value Of Family Counseling And Family Therapy
Family members of a person with a substance abuse disorder likely have their own traumas and issues with addiction. Family counseling is valuable because it helps a person with an addiction see issues from the perspectives of loved ones. You may feel hesitant about attending family therapy sessions, but remember that this type of counseling can be incredibly helpful to your recovering family member.
Everyone faces a different recovery journey, and no two families are alike. Every family that experiences addiction will have work to do to help a struggling loved one achieve and maintain sobriety. Remember these ten tips if you have a loved one working through the recovery process. This is a difficult time for everyone involved, but maintaining compassion and understanding for your loved one’s substance abuse recovery journey will invariably help the whole family overcome the situation.