Helping a loved one struggling with drug addiction can be a long and sometimes heartbreaking journey. It can get overwhelming to the point of wanting to give up. But this is the time your loved one needs you the most. True to the saying that knowledge is power, the key to supporting your loved one effectively lies in understanding.
Mending a broken relationship is the first place to start, especially if your loved one stole from you, exhibited harmful behavior, or lied to you in the past, among other toxic behaviors. Working with a therapist from a treatment center like Jackson House Rehab or facilities close to you prefer will help you patch things up as you work toward a new relationship.
Below are some ways you can support your loved one recovering from drug addiction:
Addiction is a complex disease in which recovery can be challenging. Experiencing worry, fear, and anger are normal when trying to support a recovering addict. But this is not the time to lecture your loved one on what they should or shouldn’t have done to avoid the situation.
Be empathetic. Talking about your loved one’s mistakes will not help your case. An addict’s brain has been adjusted by the drugs and is, therefore, on a different frequency from yours. Instead, you should learn how drugs affect addicts’ brains and their behavior.
Knowing addiction aspects like triggers, health issues, recovery processes, and psychological effects they have on your loved one will make it easier for you to relate with and assist them. It helps you understand the disease and equip you to help your loved one better.
On the other hand, not having proper knowledge about drug addiction may turn you into an inadvertent enabler. This may happen especially when you start taking over your loved one’s responsibilities and the consequences of their actions, thinking you’re helping them.
Help With Medication And Appointments
You can support a loved one recovering from addiction by encouraging them to follow through with treatment. During recovery, a drug addict walks on an unpredictable balance that can easily tip. The comprehensive treatment, especially for those with co-occurring disorders, might be too much for your loved one to handle. They might feel unmotivated, demoralized, and have trouble keeping up with treatments and appointments.
Helping them keep track and take prescribed medication and ensuring they attend scheduled appointments will keep them steady on their road to recovery. It also encourages them to put more effort into avoiding relapses.
Listen to their concerns when they tell you something like the side effects they’re experiencing from using the medications for recovery. Make them understand gently that the medications are necessary and will benefit their road to recovery.
Express Love And Encouragement
People recovering from addiction may think their family and friends will stop loving them because of their choices. They’re always dealing with feelings of shame and guilt, especially because of what they’ve done while in addiction.
Telling your recovering loved one they’re loved can be reassuring. Tell them they’re not alone and that they can come to you for help. Check on them from time to time and find out how they’re feeling. Hang out with them to draw closer to them.
Reaffirming to your loved one you recognize the hard work they’re putting into recovery will encourage them. More so when they meet their recovery milestones.
Have Reasonable Expectations
As much as you want your loved one to recover quickly, unrealistic expectations will do more harm than good. Your perceived expectations of their progress when they get out of rehab versus the actual situation can leave you disappointed.
When your loved one senses your disappointment, they can feel hopelessness and relapse. Knowing that rehab provides the structure to help your loved one get back on their feet and that change is gradual will help you relate better with your recovering loved one. You can help them continue what they started in rehab.
Knowing that addiction to illegal or prescription drugs isn’t a sign of weakness will make you understand that it takes more than willpower to overcome. Addiction creates powerful changes in the brain that lead to compulsive cravings. The first months after rehab are always the hardest. To help your recovering loved one in their sobriety journey, making lifestyle changes by removing any addictive substances might be necessary. These changes can help your loved one avoid temptations or triggers.
Here are other ways to support your loved one’s sobriety:
- Avoid social events where you expect they can abuse substances (e.g., a dinner party with wine)
- Help them find new healthy recreational activities (e.g.,
- Helping your loved one develop a network of people that support abstinence.
- Allowing them to focus on new aspects of life.
Ensuring that your loved one avoids places where they have access to drugs is the safest and most practical way to help them stay sober.
Reduce Arguments And Friction
An environment free from conflict and friction is critical to keep your loved one’s recovery momentum. Stress and uncertainty can contribute to anxiety, which can escalate to a relapse. A home with stable relationships is essential for their recovery.
Having good communication skills on your part will minimize tension and promote more open and honest conversations with your loved one. When you’re resourceful and flexible when dealing with your loved one during recovery, you’ll reassure them they’re safe. Spending quality time together also helps reduce friction and tension.
Know The Signs Of A Relapse
A relapse is not necessarily a failure in the recovery journey but is part of the process. The signs vary from one individual to another. Knowing your loved one’s early warning signs of a relapse and how to address them will put you in a better position to help them. You’ll be able to prevent or minimize the severity of a relapse. Being close to your loved one will enable you to detect any change in their behavior.
Some relapse signs to look out for include:
- becoming nostalgic for past drug use;
- reconnecting with old drug-using friends;
- feelings of isolation, depression, mood changes, and anxiety;
- sudden disinterest in activities and hobbies;
- doubting the effectiveness of the recovery process; and
- neglecting self-care.
If you fail to contain a relapse on time, it can become full-blown and dampen your loved one’s fighting spirit. They may feel regret and shame for losing the ground they’ve already covered. However, a relapse might also mean the treatment method needs to change.
Stay Within Healthy Boundaries
The path to recovery should be one of striving toward living a healthy, independent life. When supporting a recovering loved one, you might be tempted to do more for them than you should. Even though your loved one will need material and emotional support, overprotection will cripple their efforts and defeat the cause.
Healthy support requires you to let them integrate back into society slowly. Let them learn to make responsible decisions, like gracefully refusing anything that can jeopardize their recovery. Let them learn to speak up about their problems and ask for help when needed. Your role should be guidance, helping them up when they slip, encouraging them, and cheering them on.
Help Your Loved One Grow Their Coping Skills
One of the most challenging tests for a recovering addict is dealing with stressful situations. Temptations can lead them to use narcotics to suppress and avoid stressors. Being available to listen when they want to talk and process stressful experiences can help them slowly build their coping skills. Voicing and expressing their frustrations, difficulties, or doubts will keep down their anxiety and enable them to learn how to resolve issues correctly.
Encourage Good Habits
Proper nutrition is vital for recovery. Eating healthy food may help correct nutrient deficiencies, strengthen the body, and keep unhealthy cravings at bay. Encouraging your loved one to adopt healthy habits will benefit their general well-being.
Good nutrition combined with regular exercise will improve their mood and energy and boost their general well-being. Having enough sleep every day can help them rest, heal, and recharge their body.
Take Care Of Yourself Also
Substance abuse is a chronic disease affecting not only the user but also the people around them. Family and friends always bear the brunt of it. No matter how much you love your recovering loved one, don’t lose yourself in the process.
Being emotionally, physically, and mentally well puts you in a better position to help your loved one. Devoting much of your energy and time to helping someone while you neglect your well-being is not healthy.
Joining support groups is critical to gain knowledge, understanding, friendship, emotional support, and strategies and tips. Furthermore, counseling, therapy, and activities like meditation might also benefit you.
People start out using narcotics out of curiosity, for recreation, for peer pressure, to improve athletic performance, or numb emotional pain. The use doesn’t automatically lead to abuse. In fact, it’s hard to tell when it jumps from casual use to addiction.
Breaking the cycle becomes one of the greatest battles addicts face in their lives. They need all the support they can get. Knowing they’re not alone and that someone believes in them can fuel their determination to take charge of their life once again. Everyone can change and live a productive, meaningful, and rewarding life.