How to Understand Your Loved One’s Addiction and Support Their Recovery

How to Understand Your Loved One's Addiction and Support Their Recovery

If you have a loved one going through addiction recovery, you have some work ahead of you to learn how best to support them. Without education, your efforts to show support may be ineffective at best and counterproductive at worst. Learning about how addiction forms and what it takes to maintain recovery can benefit you and your loved one in the long run.

Common Problems From Lack of Understanding

Ignorance about addiction often leads to prejudice and stigma. When you understand addiction as a moral failing or lack of willpower, empathy toward a loved one in need may not come easy. Many people fail to support their family members well because of judgmental attitudes. These misconceptions have deterred many from seeking treatment.

Ignorance about substance use disorder (SUD) can even be more dangerous and pervasive than addiction. Many people who believe getting sober is a matter of willpower insist that their loved ones can quit on their own. Those who attempt to quit alcohol or drugs on their own may achieve sobriety for a while. However, without professional treatment, they have a high chance of relapse, which often leads to overdoses and even fatalities. 

Building a Knowledge Base About Addiction

The general public has a major knowledge gap when it comes to SUD. Many people cringe at the topic due to cultural myths and stigmas. To support a loved one, you must build a knowledge base about the truth of addiction. This starts with learning about how SUD develops as a consequence of a host of factors, including genetics, family history, mental health needs, and environmental factors.

With this knowledge, you can try to understand how your loved one got exposed to substance use or why they used in response to something difficult. Lay down your judgment and initiate conversations with them about how things started. Maybe they used drugs or alcohol to cope with a mental health problem. Perhaps it was a response to some past trauma you were unaware of. It could be that that’s how their parents modeled dealing with stress, and they didn’t know another way.

Meanwhile, become acquainted with the fact that since addiction is a chronic brain disease, it will take a long time for chemical structures in the brain to return to a healthy state. Therefore, it is normal for your loved one to experience urges and cravings even long after becoming sober. Help them talk through their triggers and what to do when they come. Allowing for such conversations can unburden some emotional stress.

Talking About Addiction

How you talk about a loved one’s addiction matters. Learn how to talk about addiction by using person-first language. For example, instead of using stigmatizing terms such as “addict” or “substance user,” refer to them as “someone in recovery from addiction” or “a person with a substance use disorder.” This is not a trivial matter. Using person-first language can create an environment of dignity, respect, and hope.

You can also encourage other family members to adopt the same respectful language when discussing addiction. Explain why it is essential to combat stigma and how doing so can help your loved one.

Adopting Stress Management Methods

If you know more about what recovering individuals need to maintain sobriety, you can prioritize stress management above all. The best support you can give your loved one is a stress-free home environment where they can relax. 

Common stress management techniques include arranging a routinized schedule at home, dedicating time to relaxation activities, and repairing channels of communication. For example, carve out some time to walk in the park every day together. When engaging in a conversation with your loved one, try to avoid arguments. Learn to become an active listener when they talk.

Promoting Self-Care at Home

Both you and your loved one must prioritize self-care at home. The building blocks of a good self-care regimen include healthy meals, regular exercise, and quality sleep. Ensure both you and your loved one follow these guidelines. If you are the main caregiver at home, you may also need to form a support group so you don’t become burnt out.

Self-care also means adopting some holistic healing methods. Yoga and mindfulness meditation are effective choices. Even during a busy day, commit a few minutes to these mind-body connection exercises.

Practical Ways to Support Your Loved One

If you try your best to support your loved one in recovery from addiction, they are lucky to have you. Below are some practical ways to show support:

  • Affirm their value and worth, as most recovering individuals struggle with low self-esteem
  • Commit to being a good listener whenever they need you
  • Offer to play an active role in their recovery
  • Accompany them to treatment
  • Respect their privacy and choices
  • Encourage them to work with health professionals 

Supporting your loved one is a valuable part of their recovery. With knowledge and commitment, your efforts will surely lead to positive outcomes.

It can be challenging to be the main caregiver to a loved one going through addiction treatment. You need to be prepared for this role so that your actions inspire motivation to maintain sobriety. Through it all, you also need to take care of yourself. Maybe it is time to consider relying on a professional team to back you up. Laguna Shores Recovery has all you need. Our team has experienced addiction recovery experts and mental health professionals specializing in simultaneously treating substance addiction and co-dependency. Early intervention and family support are the keys to success. Hope and change are here. Don’t let addiction continue, and don’t let co-dependency sabotage your progress. Call us today at (866) 774-1532.