Getting a loved one into treatment for addiction is often an arduous process. The longer they stay sober, the more likely they will become successful recovering from the addiction. Families of those who suffer from addiction can help their loved ones on this journey by doing all they can to lend support when needed. If you have a friend or family member in recovery from addiction, there are many things that you can do to show your support and help smoothen the path to long-term recovery.
Here are six ways families can help loved ones through addiction recovery:
Validate the Problem
Addiction is a disease that affects the brain in a way that compels people to seek out addictive substances or behaviors. When a person experiences addiction, it’s easy for them to feel isolated and blame themselves for their illness, which leads to feelings of guilt, self-loathing, and shame.
Families need to acknowledge addiction as a disease that isn’t caused by poor parenting or personal irresponsibility. It’s not about how much they drank or used; it’s about the fact that they have an addiction that needs treatment. They’re still the same person; their behaviors are just out of control.
Empower Them in Treatment
Families need to empower their loved ones in addiction recovery, by not trying to take over or make decisions for them. Families need to respect the autonomy of the individual and let them make their own decisions when it comes to treatment, even if they disagree with those choices. The person needs to own their recovery, and the family needs to be willing to walk alongside them. If you’re in Utah, Pinnacle Recovery Center is one of the places your loved one can enroll for addiction treatment.
Be Patient with Relapses
Just because a person seeks addiction treatment once, doesn’t automatically mean they will never drink or use again. Addiction is like any other disease; it comes in waves and can repeat itself even after someone has been sober for years. The key is for families to learn to deal with these relapses healthily, even if they are painful. Offer support and encouragement when needed, not criticism or judgment.
Don’t Blame Yourself
Families sometimes blame themselves for the addiction of their loved ones; this often leads people to feel guilt and shame after relapse, neither of which are helpful feelings. Families need to understand that addiction is a disease, and they can’t be blamed for it. If anything, families should hold themselves responsible for the supportive environment they’ve created for their loved ones while in recovery.
Support Their Sobriety
The family needs to do everything in their power to support the individual’s sobriety, even if it means letting go of certain behaviors. There needs to be a zero-tolerance policy for alcohol and drug use, especially during the first 90 days after a person has entered treatment or an intensive outpatient program. The family should also avoid being enablers by allowing their loved ones to use substances under any circumstances.
Practice Healthy Coping Mechanisms
Families need to practice healthy coping mechanisms when dealing with addiction recovery. They need to recognize the signs of stress and learn how to cope proactively as opposed to medicating their feelings away with drugs or alcohol. Families should also avoid being enablers by allowing their loved ones to use substances as a coping mechanism as well.
Help Them Set Goals
People in recovery need to have concrete goals that they can work toward, whether it’s finding a job or attending therapy regularly. By helping your loved one set and achieve goals, you’ll be taking weight off their shoulders.
Family support is crucial for people in recovery, so it’s crucial to have a healthy relationship with your loved ones if you want them to succeed. The more supportive and compassionate you are as a family member or friend, the better chance your loved one will have at long-term success.