There are few situations in which people feel more powerless than having a loved one struggle with a substance use disorder. Whether it’s your spouse, a close friend, a child, a parent, a sibling or another loved one, caring for someone who returns to drugs or alcohol again and again, despite negative consequences, can feel hopeless and draining.
If you have a loved one who is facing an addiction, you’ve likely tried numerous strategies to get them to stop abusing substances. Although the results might be slow in coming, there are still ways you can intervene. Over time, your compassion and support can make a difference.
In this article, we’ll share the top ways to show family support for addiction recovery.
1. Encourage professional treatment
Your primary role in your loved one’s recovery is to encourage professional treatment. Too often, individuals take the burden of healing upon themselves and try to address the addiction itself. While you surely have the best of intentions for your loved one, substance use disorders are a medical diagnosis and should be treated as such.
In professional treatment, your loved one can receive 24/7 medical and mental health support, medication to decrease the pain of withdrawal and urges to use as well as evidence-based therapy to heal the root cause of addiction. Even if you could provide all of the assets of professional detox and rehab, it’s important that you don’t feel solely responsible for your loved one’s recovery.
In order to support sobriety it’s essential that your loved one seek professional care. Trying to detox solo can be dangerous and even lethal in some cases, and often leads to relapse. Encourage your loved one to call a local recovery center.
2. Commit to listening
Healing from an addiction is a long and emotional struggle. From the first day to years down the line, a person who is breaking free from substance use will have a lot to manage and likely need multiple outlets for processing. One of the best ways to show family support for addiction recovery is through listening.
If you have a friend or family member in treatment, therapy will make up a large portion of the treatment regimen. While therapy offers an excellent outlet for processing, navigating the complex feelings that come with detox and long-term recovery generally requires additional outside social support.
Dealing with trauma, past mistakes, insecurities, changing lifestyles and finding new meaning are all areas that your loved one may hope to discuss. Express that you’re happy to listen, but accept that your role in regards to addressing these issues is limited, too. Don’t feel pressure to give expert advice.
3. Help to minimize triggers
Giving support often includes listening as well as action. An easy way to make a real impact is to help your loved one explore triggers, how to minimize them and how you can help. Especially in the early days, weeks and months of recovery, your aid in this area could decrease the risk of relapse.
Here are some ways you can help decrease the presence of triggers.
- Remove all drugs, alcohol and related paraphernalia from the person’s home and other frequented places
- Help your friend discover alternative routes that avoid triggering places
- Offer to join your friend on sober social outings
- Provide transportation to treatment
- Do a weekly check-in with your sibling regarding personal finances (noticing if any money was spent or saved for substances)
- Create a list of enjoyable things you can do together that won’t inspire urges to use
When your loved one is in the tough early stages of recovery, you can be involved in the process of identifying triggers, anticipating the environments where they’ll be problematic and eradicating them when possible. You can also remind your loved one to reach out to you immediately if a strong trigger ever pops up.
4. Keep track of the logistics
Detox is often followed by a period that commonly includes “brain fog.” This includes feelings of confusion, slow thinking, trouble remembering things or lingering effects of withdrawal. This mental block will fade over time, but it can make important recovery tasks difficult.
You can jump in to help your loved one remember medication, attend appointments, schedule transportation and so forth. You can also aid with normal tasks like grocery shopping, meal preparation, laundry, childcare, paying medical bills and so on.
Just remember to avoid enabling your loved one by removing the negative consequences of addictive behaviors. While these tasks should not fall only on your shoulders; when a person is going through recovery it can be a huge stress relief to have help in these areas. Invite other loved ones to assist, too.
5. Learn the facts
As the loved one of a person who struggles with a substance use disorder, it can feel like you’ve been tasked with a responsibility that comes with no guidance. Learning to take care of a family member who struggles with addiction is a learning curve, but finding the right information can make a difference.
Start out by learning about your loved one’s addiction through sources like Mayo Clinic, the National Institute on Drug Abuse or the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. You can also ask your loved one’s treatment provider and doctors about resources regarding a specific drug or behavior.
Walking the road to recovery alongside your loved one is much easier when you are familiar with the brain science of addiction and you’ll find you have much more sympathy when you understand the nature of this disease and the reality of relapse.
6. Keep the home environment stress-free
Having a loved one who lives with a substance use disorder is sure to cause conflict, but minimizing stress whenever possible can make the precarious days of treatment go more smoothly. Try to refrain from causing friction, and set clear boundaries to establish mutual respect.
Reach out today
If your loved one has struggled with addiction and having success in treatment, don’t give up hope. With the right support and professional services in place, anyone can recover from drug or alcohol abuse and return to a meaningful life.
While you can have a big impact on your friend or family member’s recovery, it is not up to you to do everything. Enlist the help of medical and addiction specialists at Real Recovery.
At Real Recovery, your loved one will receive individualized and holistic care and be on his or her way to long-term sobriety in no time. Call today, at 855-363-7325.