Addiction is a disease that does not discriminate; it affects people of all genders, ages, races, ethnicities, professions, and socioeconomic classes. In addition, addiction affects everyone, not just the person with a substance use disorder. Spouses, children, and relatives feel the impact too as they deal with the stress, uncertainty, and disorder that substance misuse can trigger. Drug use has distinct effects on the family and can damage trust, relationships, self-esteem, and more. It can be especially difficult for children who are too young to understand what is happening or why.
However, family members play a vital role in recovery, whether encouraging a loved one to seek substance use treatment or supporting them once they have entered or completed rehab. Family is integral to helping reduce risk of relapse and creating a healthy environment where those in recovery can thrive and continue to advance toward their goals. From simply providing a listening ear to exploring new hobbies, you can make a difference in a loved one’s recovery.
Addiction or Not, It’s Still Them
It is so important to remember that a person is not their addiction. Addiction is just one part of their life, and one that they are actively trying to change. Your loved one is still the same person who likes to take silly pictures, tosses a ball with the kids in the park, or dominates at Monopoly. Try not to treat them differently because they have admitted that they struggle with a substance use disorder. It takes a lot of strength and courage to seek help. As they embrace sobriety, you’ll begin to see the person you knew shine even brighter.
Be a Supportive Pillar
When a loved one is overcoming alcoholism or drug use, you want to create a safe space for them to recover. Understanding drug addiction is the first step so you have a better idea of what they are going through and how you can be supportive of their recovery. Make sure your home is a substance-free environment to eliminate any temptation. Be willing to be that sober buddy when you go to events so they’re not the only one not drinking and don’t feel pressured to do so.
Listen, Don’t Judge
Remember that you don’t have to have all the answers. Sometimes just being a listening ear or sounding board is enough when a loved one is in recovery. There are things they don’t want you to do, such as criticize or critique what they are doing, or judge them based on events from the past. They’re starting anew and having non-judgmental friends and families for addiction recovery to be effective is important.
Do New Things Together
Support their desire to try new things as part of their 12 steps of recovery program or relapse prevention plan. Your loved one has likely made an effort to change their perspective and be open to different activities. Offer to sign up for a photography class, volunteer at the local food bank, or join a book club with them so they have the support of someone they know and trust. Realize that what you did together in the past may not necessarily be what you’ll do together in the future, so be willing to adapt – it could be beneficial for you too!
Avoid the Micromanagement Trap
It can be very tempting to monitor everything your loved one is doing in recovery because you’re concerned about relapse. However, nagging isn’t just bad for health, it can also be detrimental to their recovery. Constantly reminding them of what they should or shouldn’t do or questioning their decisions does nothing to rebuild trust and help them regain their independence. It can actually add stress to your relationship and push them away. Have faith that they can effectively apply what they learned in substance use treatment and stay on track with their recovery. Remind them that if they need anything, you’re there for them.
Be a Support Group Buddy
Support groups are a major part of the 12 steps of recovery. However, these groups aren’t just for those overcoming a substance use disorder. There are plenty of groups for children, spouses, and friends of those in recovery as well. When they go to their meetings, you can go to meetings as well and connect with others who understand firsthand what you are going through. It can be good for both you and your loved one to build strong support systems.
Addiction recovery is a process and a journey. It is not something that happens overnight. This makes it even more essential for friends and family to get involved and be supportive when a loved one needs it the most. Not every day will be easy, but knowing that family has their back and wants to see them be successful can improve their chances of lasting recovery. If you’re concerned a loved one may be struggling with alcoholism or drug addiction, encourage them to seek substance use treatment at a trusted recovery center like Crossroads Maine where they can get the comprehensive, gender-responsive treatment they need.
[cta]Encourage your loved one to get the help they need for addiction recovery and turn their life around at Crossroads.[/cta]