Addiction is a destructive force that can affect all aspects of a person’s life. Often, we see some of the greatest impacts on our friends and family – addiction can put a strain on even the strongest relationships. Substance use disorders can cause extensive interpersonal problems like conflict, instability, and aggression.
As a family member or good friend, you may have had a major role in persuading your loved one to attend rehabilitation. Once they have finished their treatment program, you may want to be by their side as they continue to reshape themselves and their values, and adjust to a sober life.
The transition from rehab to daily life isn’t easy, and early recovery is full of challenges. Unlike a controlled rehabilitation center, the home environment is full of stresses and triggers your loved one needs to cope with and overcome. Having a strong support system to help and encourage them is crucial for recovery success.
People in recovery can turn to many different sources of support at this vulnerable time. They can talk to people from their support group, an outpatient counselor, and friends and family. If you do not want to be involved in their recovery at this stage, it is better to let them seek support in other places until you feel ready.
If, however, you are in the right place to support your loved one, there are a few different ways to do so. In this blog, we outline four of them.
1. Learn About Recovery and Addiction
Addiction and recovery are complex and full of different challenges. Educating yourself on the many aspects of substance use disorders – like triggers, co-occurring disorders, and the stages of relapse – helps you to understand what your loved one is going through and allows you to provide meaningful support.
Addiction is a chronic disease, and relapse is a possibility for anyone in recovery, regardless of how long they have been sober. Being able to recognize the phases of relapse and knowing how to intervene can enable you to prevent a relapse in its early stages. While relapse is not a sign of failure, preventing it helps make your loved one’s recovery journey smoother and easier.
2. Help Your Loved One Make Lifestyle and Environmental Changes
In early recovery, people may encounter many challenges and situations that can trigger them to return to drug use. As a loved one, you can help them make changes to their environment and lifestyle to avoid these situations and make staying sober easier. You could:
- Remove all addictive substances from the home
- Help them avoid social gatherings where there will be drugs and alcohol
- Look for sober activities to do together
- Help them develop relationships with sober friends
3. Encourage Them to Attend Support Group Meetings
Extensive scientific research shows that recovery support groups like 12-step meetings are among the most effective addiction treatment approaches. Support group meetings are a place to learn from others, renew someone’s commitment to recovery, and find comfort in a shared experience. They are accessible and essential in all stages of the recovery journey.
As a loved one, you can encourage your partner to attend these meetings and make sure they continue to go each week. This aids them in their recovery and helps share the responsibility of support so you are not giving more than you can comfortably manage.
4. Find Support for Yourself
You can’t properly support someone else without receiving support yourself. Supporting someone in recovery can be emotionally and physically tiring, and you need to look after yourself throughout the process.
Therapy and counseling are available for people supporting loved ones in recovery, and you can join dedicated support groups for family members like Al-Anon. Self-care practices like yoga and meditation can help you maintain good mental health and offer ways to relax and unwind throughout the process.
Setting clear boundaries and ensuring you have adequate support helps you maintain a mutual and healthy relationship with your loved one without feeling burnt out. This allows you to continue to help them throughout their recovery journey, providing a source of stability, care, and support.