How to Support Your Loved One Recovering From Addiction. The how to can be confusing. Values and how affected he/she has been by the addict’s use can affect communication. Fear, sadness, anger, no personal experience with drug use, burnt bridges can get in the way.
The intent of this post is to guide those who desire to help the recovering addict.
To the Family of the Recovering Addict
It is important for you to know it is understood that the recovering addict has burned bridges that can take years to rebuild. Do not feel guilty if you are not in a place emotionally to take the suggestions written here. You can reestablish this relation when you and the recovering addict both agree to at another time. Make sure you have a strong network to help you make this decision.
To the Recovering Addict
Work with your sponsor, counselor and or higher power to not hold resentments against those who resist becoming a part of your recovery network. You may be ready to make amends but the impact you have had on others lives may require patience on your part. Try to remember when he/she were by your side encouraging you to seek help.
How to Support Your Loved One Recovering From Addiction
1) Attend a 12 Step fellowship meeting at least once with the recovering addict. Get an understanding of this part of the recovery process.
2) If the loved one is going through inpatient or outpatient treatment visit and participate in any groups you are invited to.
3) Don’t get upset if the patient/client does not sign consent for you to call his/her program. Give them time to adjust to treatment. Sometimes there are things they just don’t feel comfortable revealing. Remember the important thing is that the loved one is getting help.
4) Learn as much as you can about the drug of choice your loved one used and what mental and physical symptoms to expect. One way to do this is to ask treatment providers your loved one is working with. You can also visit http://www.samhsa.gov. This is a great resource for families, clients, and people working in the field.
5) Don’t expect perfection! Families want their loved ones back without the alcohol and drugs. Then have a hard time accepting that the recovering person will be growing and changing as he/she works on relapse prevention. This sometimes means establishing new boundaries with the family and others, which is challenging for all.
I need to share a story with you to help you understand the boundary issue. I had a client who when using drugs would promise to do everything for the family to get money for illegal substances.
She would babysit any day any hour. There was a time she volunteered herself to help paint a house. “Hard to do with a hangover” she explained. When the client stopped using drugs and began taking care of herself the family expected her to still give her time up to them.
Many began to ridicule her saying she thought she was better because she had all her recovery plans and going to “that place”, “those meetings.” This made the client feel alone and helpless. During a family session, the client’s brother came right out and said it, “we just wanted her to stop using.”
They loved her passive personality and willingness to take care of their needs when high or in need of money. However, now that she was taking care of herself having the ability to say “no” did not fit in with the person the family envisioned.
6) Get help for yourself by connecting with other families. Alanon is a great support group regardless if your loved one used alcohol or drugs. Tough love is hard to learn and follow through on your own.
7) Be receptive to family therapy if it is offered and you can inquire about it yourself. Medication can be expensive. If your doctor or therapist suggest you take medication this organization may be able to help you get a discount on your prescription medication .
8) Be patient! There is a saying in recovery groups, “Give Time, Time.” Your loved one did not become an addict overnight the recovery journey does not make it all go away overnight.
Learning how to support your loved one recovering from addiction is key to the success of the addict but not your responsibility. Family, friends, co-workers, employers, etc. are not responsible for an addicts recovery nor the addict’s relapse.
To learn more read this article Chasing the Dragon the Life of an Addict.
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Addict in the House: A No-Nonsense Family Guide Through Addiction and Recovery Kindle Edition
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