When someone you love has an addiction, it can be challenging to know where to turn.
If they get professional help and get sober, this can help, but early recovery is when your loved one is most vulnerable and needs you most.
How to Support a Recovering Drug Addict or AlcoholicWhen someone you care about is in early recovery for a drug or alcohol addiction, it is normal to feel overwhelmed or unsure of how to act. Recovery can be uncharted territory that can be hard to navigate for both the recovering addict as well as their loved one. Follow these tips on how to support someone in recovery so that this process becomes a bit more manageable and easier for you and your loved one in recovery.
Get EducatedIt can be difficult to know how to support someone in recovery if you know nothing about their addiction. Do your research on substance abuse disorders and their specific addiction problems. You should learn about their withdrawal symptoms as well as early signs of relapse to recognize trouble. It would also be helpful to know about the recovery and addiction community. Reddit is a good source for this information; it can give you a better understanding of what your loved one is going through, but tread carefully.
Offer Your Help & SupportThe person in recovery may be too embarrassed or ashamed to ask for your help, especially if they hurt you while they were an addict. You may need to verbally offer your help and support before they feel comfortable enough to ask you on their own. Saying that you want to help in general may not be enough either. It is better if you can offer to help or support in a specific way such as offering to attend recovery meetings or going to the doctor with them.
Keep in ContactA lot of supporting an addict in recovery is staying in touch. Your friend or family member is vulnerable in early recovery especially, and boredom and loneliness can be big triggers for relapse. One of the best ways to make sure they stay on track is to talk to them regularly and spend time with them often. Always checking in and asking them how they are feeling can be annoying to some people, so instead, send them funny videos you come across, ask them to lunch, and pop in on the weekends if they are not doing anything. This constant contact not only keeps them accountable for their recovery but also gives them someone they know they can rely on.
Get InvolvedPeople in recovery are often encouraged to get more involved with their community and to stay active in their recovery journey. Instead of checking in to make sure they are going to their 12-step meetings, join them. You will be able to learn a lot about addiction from attending recovery meetings. Don’t stop there either. Push your loved one by volunteering in the community or getting involved in the church together. Both can give your loved one a newfound sense of purpose that may be lacking since they completed their intensive outpatient program.
Try New ThingsBecause drugs and alcohol can take over the addict’s life, when they finally get sober, they may feel like something is missing. Many recovering addicts struggle to fill this void in a productive or healthy way, but hobbies are a good start. Find out what your loved one has always wanted to try and do it with them. Many people are hesitant to try something new and step outside of their comfort zone alone but having someone by their side can give them the courage they need. Do several activities, classes, or groups, until your loved one finds something they want to stick with. You may even find that you discover a new hobby for yourself.
Get ActiveEven though your loved one completed a medical detox and rid their body of toxins, drug abuse and alcoholism can have lasting effects on the body. Especially after years of substance abuse, your loved one’s body is likely still largely in need of healing from the damage. They probably neglected to keep healthy habits when they were addicted as well. It is important for your loved one to get healthy and one of the more fun ways of supporting a recovering addict is to get active with them. This doesn’t mean you have to go to the gym with them. Instead, together you can go to a workout class, join a recreational sports team, sign up for a fun run and train together, rollerblade or go biking around the neighborhood, go dancing, or take some long brisk walks. There are plenty of ways to exercise and have fun doing it.
Supporting a recovering addict is all about being there for your loved one and getting involved with their sobriety. Remember that the recovery journey is filled with several ups and downs for the person you care about, so being there is about being there for both the good and bad times. Be patient and understanding and you should both be able to make it through.
At Banyan Heartland, our Gilman PHP is designed to help patients prepare for life outside of treatment so that they can find lasting sobriety. If someone you care about has yet to get treatment for a substance abuse problem or you struggle with addiction yourself, do not wait any longer to get help.