Helping a Loved One in Recovery: 5 Suggestions
When a person gets sober, there are a lot of things that may go through a loved one’s mind. Families are not immune to the effects of addiction by any stretch, and it takes a lot of strength to remain by a loved one’s ups and downs as they begin their journey.
Experts usually describe addiction as a family disease. This description doesn’t mean that you cause a loved one’s substance use disorder. It does, however, mean that you can help them recover but you can't carry the burden or do their work for them. While the journey is there for them to walk on their own, healing can take place within the family as well.
Helping Your Loved One
As a family member, you probably have a lot of hopes as well as fears about the journey your loved one is taking. If they have been to rehab before, you might think that they need “extra” help to stay sober. The truth is that relapse is usually a part of a person’s recovery. If your loved one relapsed in the past, it doesn’t mean they weren’t trying hard enough. It said that their addiction is powerful and hard to overcome. Try to trust the process.
Here are a few more suggestions to help your loved one in sobriety:
- Get out of the way and let them work on themselves. You may think that helping your loved one means checking up on them and pushing them to try new things to cope with their life. You may have enabled them in the past and thought you were “helping” – such as when you gave them money or bailed them out of jail. It’s time for them to build a strong support network and learn to stand on their own two feet. If they need your help, they will ask you. (But don’t bow to unreasonable requests.)
- Trust the process. Getting sober can be messy; your loved one will be working on processing new information, feeling old and new feelings, and trying to be comfortable in their skin. Sometimes they will make mistakes. Sometimes you might argue with them. Don’t let these small setbacks cause you to lose your faith in their recovery program.
- Get help if you need it. It’s okay to have conflicting emotions and attitudes about your loved one’s new path in life. But they are not ready to hear or process your baggage yet; it takes time for them to become sane and stable again. A therapy group or self-help group like Al-Anon can help you deal with your issues.
- Read literature on addiction. There are many books, newsletters, blogs, and forums that discuss life in recovery. Ask your loved one’s treatment center for suggestions, especially if you feel a little lost with all of their new activities.
- Practice self-care. If you need to cry and beat up a pillow to deal with your feelings, permit yourself to do that. You may also find yoga, exercise, or meditation help you deal with stress. Your family is in a period of transition, and you’re not in charge of the process. You can, however, take responsibility for your personal mental health.
Getting Help for Addiction
If you or a loved one needs help with a substance use disorder, we’re here to guide you. Recovery is a process that is open to everyone, but asking for help is always the first hurdle. We can help you plan your journey in an empathetic, safe, and healthy environment. You CAN reclaim your life. Give us a call at 619-363-4767 for more information.