How Should I Support a Loved Onee in Recovery?

a man and a lady giving themselves a high five

Addiction affects not only the people who use substances but their family and close friends around them. There can be a lot of challenges for the people who want to be as supportive as possible towards a loved one’s recovery. If you are supporting someone through treatment and recovery, educating yourself on addiction’s causes and effects and the best ways to help is the first step. You may have lived in a kind of moral judgment or been waiting for your loved one to hit a place where he or she is willing to begin rehab. Even when treatment begins, your supportive role in this journey may not be what you expect, so learning how to manage your expectations at different stages of recovery is critical. 

How Do I Show Support During Early Recovery?

You have probably walked alongside a loved one in addiction for a long time. When they decide to enter rehab and detox treatment, you may be tempted to think that it will all be uphill from there. However, the early stages of recovery can be as challenging as the dark phases of addiction. This is a time when withdrawal symptoms, cravings, and the risk of relapse are intensified. You must prepare for these challenges. 

Maybe you have watched your loved one go through so many relapses that you do not have confidence in their lasting recovery. Even if you do not admit it, there may be lingering feelings of frustration, anger, and disappointment. While your loved one is receiving a full range of treatment and therapy at a residential rehab center, you can make use of the outpatient counseling services so that you can prepare for what to expect and ways to assist their long-term sobriety when they return home.

Self-care is important for those who care for their loved ones in early recovery. You may have long placed the needs of your loved one above your own, but it is crucial to care for your own emotional well-being so that you can continue supporting your loved one. 

What’s There to Learn About Addiction?

You might think that after these years of exposure to your loved one’s symptoms, you have sufficient experience and knowledge to deal with them. The truth is, there is always more to learn about this chronic illness. There might be blind spots in your knowledge of addiction that hinder your ability to best care for them. 

For example, did you know that long-term substance use can change brain chemistry? Knowing this would prevent statements like, “If you love me, you’d quit.” These kinds of pronouncements reveal ignorance of how chronic addiction affects a person. Since more and more evidence shows that chronic addiction is a brain disease, it is unfair to put all the pressure on an individual to choose not to use. Blaming your loved one for a hard-wired physical condition will only breed more guilt, shame, and stigma, which can worsen cravings for drugs and alcohol.

Are you aware that addicted individuals struggle with a lot of shame and guilt and that those negative emotions often tend to exacerbate the problem? Do you know that stigma can trigger or worsen the use of substances? If your loved one struggles with the stigma of addiction, it is important to surround that person with supportive people who share an informed understanding about how addiction develops and impacts the body and the mind. De-stigmatizing always begins with de-mystifying, and understanding the science behind substance use disorder can help you do that. 

What Can I Do?

Understand how to build a solid support system once your loved one has finished treatment. By then, they will have adjusted to the routines of a residential treatment center. You can make the home conducive to continued recovery by setting the same routines and healthy boundaries. The key is to avoid enabling their addictive tendencies and minimize potential triggers. Research shows that only about one-third of recovering individuals continue recovery after a year of sobriety. This means that the majority of addicts relapse within a year. It is likely that many of those people simply don’t have a good support system at home. 

Family dysfunctions might be common triggers. Consider joining relationship skills coaching at a treatment center so you can have open communication with your loved one and rebuild healthy boundaries. Allow them independence, but offer help where you can, be present but not domineering, encourage them to continue attending support group meetings led by professionals, and celebrate small victories along the way. 

If you are determined to walk alongside a loved one during his or her journey towards long-term recovery, it is best to seek professional help. This may involve your participation in counseling and education programs. Laguna Shores Recovery is one resource in our community that offers advocates who can help coach you on ways to assist your loved one with continued sobriety. We strive to provide catered programs to ensure the best treatment for your loved one. We offer treatment plans such as detox, medication, 12-step groups, and relationship skills coaching. Our staff and therapists can explain the many ways in how family and significant others can be involved in recovery. We believe in holistic recovery, and we are here to listen, coach, and walk alongside you. Schedule an appointment with us at Laguna Shores Recovery. Call us at (954) 329-1118, and we will be happy to support you with plans and strategies.