How to Support a Recovering Addict
Posted under Relapse Prevention on Tuesday, June 16th, 2009
Addiction isn’t just a disease that affects the health and life of the addict in question; it’s a disease that can destroy the lives of family members and friends, especially when exposed to the addict on a daily basis. It can be heartbreaking to watch a loved one struggle with this debilitating disease when you’re not sure exactly how to help. Since addiction is a disease with biological roots as well as mental and emotional ones, it’s important to know that you’re not to blame for the addict’s behavior, nor should you consider it your responsibility to “cure” the addict; rather, you should leave it up to doctors and therapists to help your loved one recover.
If you’re living, dating or are friends with a recovering addict, it can often seem as though you’re not exactly sure how to interact with them. Should you walk around on eggshells for fear of triggering a certain emotion that could cause a relapse, or should you pretend as though nothing happened? This article has the best tips and techniques for those people who want to learn how to support a recovering addict:
Get Involved. The worst thing to do is to ignore the addict’s recovery process. Instead, get educated as to what the recovery process involves. Many recovery programs feature an educational program that families can attend, which will help to educate you and your loved ones as to how you can best support the recovering addict.
Promote A Sober Environment. If the recovering addict lives in your home, it’s important to eliminate any and all temptations. For example, if the addict is recovering from alcohol abuse, don’t keep any alcohol around in the house; it’ll be too easy for the addict to relapse and ruin his or her progress.
Additionally, the family should provide as supportive of an environment as possible. If the addict has to be sober, then all family members should be sober as well. This means no drinking in front of the addict, nor should you return from a party or event clearly intoxicated. This will undermine your loved one’s progress by making them crave the substance again.
Support The Addict. Often, addiction starts because the person in question doesn’t know how to effectively cope with the stresses of life. Help your addict by reducing the stress that’s present in his or her home environment. While you shouldn’t get rid of all responsibilities that the addict needs to deal with, help your loved one if he or she is starting to feel overwhelmed. This can include helping with bills, dealing with conflict or babysitting the addict’s children; however you can help out, make sure the addict knows that you’re there.
Keep An Eye Out For Relapse. Be proactive in preventing a relapse by keeping an eye on the addict. If you suspect that your loved one is in danger of taking up the substance again, get involved by taking the addict to a safe place and alerting his or her counselor.
Don’t Forget To Take Care Of YOU. When dealing with a recovering addict, it can be easy to lose sight of your own needs – but if you want to provide the best support for your loved one, you’ll need to take care of yourself as well. Don’t forget to take a little time out of each day to attend to your own needs. If you have a favorite hobby like painting or singing, spend some time doing that, since you’ll instantly feel happier and more relaxed; this will help you to be there as much as possible for the recovering addict.