The greatest influence in a person’s life is usually their family. You can and do have the power to help your loved one change, whether that’s getting them into treatment in the first place or helping them sustain recovery after.
Support at home can actually make or break a recovery.
And this support doesn’t have to come from family alone. It can come from a support group, a church, or a community organization as well, so you don’t need to do this on our own… But the most common source of encouragement and accountability for most people recovering from addiction is friends and family.
You, yes you, can decrease your loved one’s chance of relapse.
That is not to say that you are responsible for your loved one’s actions if they decide to use again. Of course, they are accountable to themselves above all else.
However, addiction changes the brain and alters the mind, making it so that people in recovery are fighting an uphill battle.
It’s a heavy load to carry, so an extra set of hands can make all the difference.
Below is a list of ways that you can help your loved one stay sober, or at the very least, give them the best chance possible.
Let’s look at ways to help your loved one get into and stay in recovery.
Establish a Substance-Free Environment
If the recovering person in your life lives with you, the most obvious first step in encouraging sobriety is to remove substances from your shared home.
It may feel like a sacrifice to toss the wine bottles that you yourself are able to use casually.
But trust us, it is much better to avoid the guilt and disappointment you might feel if your recovering loved one is tempted into using again under your own roof. Sometimes we have this thought that, “my loved one just needs more willpower. I can drink casually. They’re just not trying hard enough.”
Because addiction changes the brain at an unconscious level, this is not the case. Think about trying to change one of your own habits. Maybe you’ve decided to get more fit by dieting and exercising. Remember how difficult that change was? Addiction is even more difficult to change.
Once you have removed temptations from your home, be considerate in the future whenever you have control over the environment.
Hosting a party? Avoid locations that serve liquor. In charge of social outings? Avoid places that may contain triggers for your loved one.
Addiction has deep ties to environmental factors, so be mindful always of the temptation that could arise due to simple location.
Accept Your Loved One
More difficult than tossing some liquor or marijuana in your house, living with or supporting someone in recovery involves some emotional work.
People who have hurt others in the past due to their addiction live in fear of others’ resentment. It is in both your and their best interests to lessen that fear.
Acknowledge that the recovering addict in your life is struggling, and that they are facing a lot of temptation.
They may disappoint you from time to time even, so remind yourself that they are trying, and remind them that you can forgive as long as they get back in the saddle and keep working at their sobriety.
Going back to our dieting and exercise example, did you ever slip up? We bet you did.
But that doesn’t mean it’s a lost cause. You learn from the slip and focus on making progress.
Slip-ups are often a part of the recovery process. Don’t look at them as a failure that requires starting over. Look at them as a mistake made on the path of progress, something to be learned from.
Encourage the person in recovery to follow-through.
Be their cheerleader, be a little tough, or just be THERE, depending on the situation.
You know what your loved one responds to, so pick the best method you know of to remind them that you support them.
Communicate openly and honestly about any issues that arise, as soon as they come up.
This will prevent festering issues that could sour the relationship that your recovering loved one is relying on.
Be mindful to stay productive though. Telling your loved one how you feel in the moment can be constructive, but rehashing old events over and over will likely bring up guilt and stress that is detrimental to recovery.
Be Involved In Their Aftercare
Recovery isn’t simply achieved after someone finishes detox and rehab.
In truth, recovery is an ongoing process. In some ways, it never ends.
This is why your loved one needs a concrete aftercare plan, which can include any combination of:
- Group therapy
- Individual therapy
- Family support
- Support groups
- Sober social groups
- Continuing necessary medical care
If someone in recovery is relying on you, you will understand what they are going through so much better if you attend a group meeting or engage in Family Support with them.
Not only will you understand their needs better, but they will also see your commitment to helping them stay sober.
Proving your commitment will help them to feel loved, and encourage them to stay accountable after all the effort they see you putting in.
Remember when we said that recovery is an ongoing process? We cannot stress that enough.
It is important to be patient with your loved one. They are surrounded by triggers.
You may just see a discarded straw on the ground. They see a tool used for snorting. You go to Wal-mart to buy socks. They used to go there to get Sudafed to make meth. Normal, everyday items can be triggers connected for drug use for your loved one.
It can be tempting to get frustrated, or take things personally when they fail to communicate, aren’t meeting your expectations, or backslide after making some progress.
You may be thinking, “I have put in all this work FOR THEM. Why won’t they put the work in for themselves?”
Remember though, that recovering from a substance addiction has many invisible struggles as relapse triggers abound, and the person in your life might be trying harder than it seems.
Try to give them some time.
Take Care of Yourself
You cannot pour from an empty cup.
Friends or family members in recovery need a lot of support, and for many people being there for them all the time can be a little draining.
IT IS OKAY TO GET TIRED.
It happens to everyone. The key to being able to support others is to take the advice you would give to them.
Have a few supportive people in your life, be honest with them, and if you feel like you need it, you may even consider therapy for yourself to help you get through the often intense emotional ups and downs of living with someone struggling with addiction.
Helping someone in recovery comes with a lot of pressure, so remember: it’s not your fault if the person you love relapses.
But also remember to ENJOY their successes. Celebrating sober birthdays and recognizing how far your recovering loved has come is so satisfying.
Lastly, remember that you are not alone. Comprehensive centers like Serenity Lodge will individually tailor an aftercare plan for your loved one, and provide services like Family Support.
If you have a loved one struggling with sobriety, give Serenity Lodge – Lake Arrowhead a call at 866.379.4365 today.