Supporting a Loved One in RecoveryAnna Ciulla
Addiction can put an incredible strain on the user’s relationships with loved ones and friends. As the loved one of a user, it can be a challenge to navigate their addiction and find the right ways to help them once they are in recovery to help them maintain their sobriety. Recovery can be a lifelong process that requires action and understanding every single day, both for the user and for their families and loved ones. Recovery can later the user’s goals, habits, lifestyle, behavior, and expectations in a way that can be an adjustment for loved ones to define their new role and relationship with the user in recovery.
Supporting a loved one in recovery is a daunting challenge, but with the right knowledge and information, you can make sure you are supporting their recovery without feeling overwhelmed or unsure of what you should be doing. Supporting a loved one in recovery can be a particularly tough challenge when they are your significant other because their recovery may change the dynamic in the romantic relationship, as addiction can often have a significant impact on intimacy and trust in a relationship. Many loved ones want to do everything they can to help the person they love overcome their addiction and maintain sobriety, but don’t know exactly what they should be doing or how best to support their loved one during the long-term recovery.
Tips for Supporting Your Significant Other in Recovery
Now that your loved one has begun the recovery process for their addiction—possibly at a detox center or other form of rehab—it’s important to begin the recovery process for your relationship as well so that you can help provide them the support they’ll need to maintain their sobriety and avoid falling back into the habits that fueled their addiction. Below are tips for supporting a loved one in recovery to help you navigate the complexities of recovery in a way that will benefit both your loved one and you.
Educate Yourself on Recovery and Addiction
Many people are unaware of the complexities of both recovery and addiction and that recovery can be a great challenge in a user’s life. One of the best ways you can support a loved one in recovery is to educate yourself on drug and alcohol addiction and recovery so that you are aware of the complex facets of both. Useful topics to educate yourself on include potential triggers to be aware of, enablement and how to avoid enabling your loved one, physical and mental health issues that could arise, the recovery process, and the psychological changes that addiction can cause. This will make it easier to relate to your loved one as they go through recovery and to be better prepared to help prevent a relapse.
Understand That There May Be Extended Issues
When a user seeks treatment, the issues that have resulted from their alcohol or drug addiction don’t stop there. Addiction can create many different types of lasting issues that will need to be dealt with during recovery and their treatment program, such as inpatient rehab or long term rehab. It can take an extended period of time to rebuild the fractured trust that was broken during the addiction and to rebuild the facets of the user’s life that suffered because of their addiction. As you support your loved one in their recovery, it’s important to understand that there may be extended issues that will take time to deal with and move past.
Make Positive Changes to Support Sobriety
One of the most beneficial actions you can take to support your loved one in recovery is to help make positive changes that support their sobriety. Examples of these positive changes include, but are not limited to, finding new, sober activities to do together, fostering relationships with sober friends, avoiding social gatherings where substance abuse may occur, removing addictive substances from the home, focusing on new, positive changes in the user’s life, and avoiding places or people associated with their addiction. These are just a few examples of simple, positive changes you can make to help support your loved one’s sobriety.
Manage Your Expectations
When your loved one is in recovery, it’s important to manage your expectations to avoid the disappointment that can discourage your loved one. Your loved one’s addiction can be the source of many of the problems in their lives and relationships, but there can also be many other issues at play that will have to be dealt with during recovery. If your loved one relapses, it’s important to be supportive and positive about their ability to achieve and maintain sobriety. If you are disappointed in them, the recovery user can sense that disappointment and it could feed their desire to use and subsequently drive another relapse. By managing your expectations and fueling positivity, you can help support them during their recovery.
For more on addiction and recovery, contact us.
- Behavioral Health Evolution. “Nine Strategies for Families Helping a Loved One in Recovery.” Retrieved from http://www.bhevolution.org/public/family_support.page.