How to support someone recovering from addiction
Addiction can be devastating, and treatment can be downright painful. If you want your loved ones to fully recover and start living a better life, it is important that you support them however you can before and after addiction treatment.
Of course, overcoming an addiction is very much an individual journey; You cannot force someone to do the work necessary to improve their health, and you cannot do the work for them. You can, however, provide them with emotional support , reassurance, and help kick the habit for good.
What are the best ways to support someone recovering from addiction?
Explain that you want help
First, explain that you want help. People with addiction often have a hard time asking for help — and they may not be sure if you want to get involved. Eliminate and clarify ambiguities by directly expressing your support. A simple phrase like, “I know you’re having a hard time, and I want to help you get through it any way I can” goes a long way.
Recovering from addiction is often a long and arduous process. It is not a fast enemy. It’s a marathon, and there will likely be major challenges and setbacks along the way. If you are going to stay in a supportive position, and increase your chances of recovery in the long term, it is important to be patient. Understand that there can be small setbacks without jeopardizing the long-term path – and try to forgive your loved one for the things they did along the way.
Likewise, it is important to avoid judgment. If you are the type of person who has never abused substances and has consistently made good decisions throughout life, it is easy to look down upon someone who has taken another path. It is especially easy to describe someone negatively if they have caused harm, such as attacking loved ones, stealing, or committing other crimes. But if you want to support a healthy recovery, it is important to avoid judgmental statements and positions; Instead, work to understand why and how they ended up in this place, and show empathy for them.
Be a good listener
Active listening is vital if you want to be supportive. Instead of offering your help directly, ask your loved one how you can help. Ask them how they feel. Let them speak. If your relationship is strained or if your loved one is struggling, it can be difficult for them to open up. But with patience, openness, and understanding, they will eventually start talking to you. And when they open up and see that you’re listening, they’ll feel better.
Learn more about addiction and recovery
Do what you can to learn more about addiction and recovery. You don’t need a medical degree to provide emotional support, but if you have a better understanding of the physical, mental, and emotional components of addiction, you’ll be in a much better position to provide help.
Be honest and direct about your feelings
Your loved one is someone who is seeking recovery, but you are still an important part of the process, and your needs and feelings still matter. Be honest and direct about how you feel, especially if asked. Again, you’ll want to avoid judgmental or accusatory language, but express your feelings. For example, you could say, “I feel hurt that you didn’t tell me what was going on,” instead of “It was selfish and stupid not to tell anyone what was going on.”
Look for distractions and healthy options
You can also help your loved one by finding good distractions and helping them make healthy choices. Take your loved one on a long bike ride or go on an adventure together. You can also stay at home and watch movies or play video games. As long as it’s something fun and satisfying, it can help them find meaning and stability.
Seek professional help when necessary
While there are many ways you can support someone in recovery from addiction , there are limits to what untrained hobbyists can do. If you notice signs of relapse or if you find yourself exhausted, don’t be afraid to seek professional help.
Understand the signs of relapse
Finally, watch out for signs of relapse. Even after many years of recovery, there is a chance that a person will relapse. Warning signs of relapse include symptoms of loneliness, depression, boredom, and dissatisfaction. A person may also begin to skip group therapy sessions, lose control of their routine, and experience cravings for the substance of their choice.
If you follow these strategies, you will be able to provide your loved ones with the necessary support, care and attention structures to facilitate a healthy recovery. Addiction is powerful and destructive, but it’s not far fetched. Offer your support to increase their chances of success.