Committing to sobriety is an act of unparalleled bravery. When someone you love is in recovery, you naturally want to do all you can to help them find and keep the strength to maintain their resolve. But it isn’t always easy to know where to begin or what’s most useful.
Here are some very do-able tips and suggestions you can use to help your loved one keep their eyes on the prize.
1- Educate Yourself
The more you know about how addiction and recovery work, the easier it is to support someone in the process of reclaiming their life. There’s a lot to consider – the physical and health ramifications, getting up to speed on enabling and co-dependency, identifying and eliminating triggers for relapse. The more you know and understand about the process of recovery, the more you’ll feel equipped to cope with your loved one’s challenges.
2- Offer Support and Follow Through
Addicts just beginning their recovery process depend on those close to them for strength and encouragement. If you offer emotional, or any other kind of support, be true to your word. Your loved one may be feeling dejected and demoralized. Knowing they have an unflinching, unjudgmental shoulder and ear can mean the difference between success and relapse.
3- Encourage Healthy Habits and Lifestyle Choices
Those in recovery are often malnourished thanks to years of poor eating habits. Cook nutritious meals together. Take walks or do yard work. Physical activity is good for the psyche as well as the body. Encourage hobbies and pastimes that are engaging and interesting. Recovering addicts often have trouble getting motivated, so be gentle with your criticism and generous with your praise.
Remind your loved one to keep all medical and therapy appointments. Continued sobriety is a group effort between the addict, their support system, and their health care providers.
4- Maintain a Temptation-Free Environment
It’s hard enough to combat years of self-destructive habits, harder still if those in your environment still indulge and leave their paraphernalia around.
One of the most important things you can do to help your recovering loved one is provide a strictly drug-free space. Experts agree that a good indicator if a recovering addict will succeed in remaining sober is whether they live in a substance-free atmosphere.
To prevent relapse, it’s important to replace old, unwanted behaviors with new, positive ones. This means avoiding active users, even if they’re old buddies. Now is the time to cultivate relationships with sober friends and avoid social situations where the temptation may be irresistible, especially during the early days of recovery.
5- Have Realistic Expectations
A person doesn’t become an addict overnight, nor will they become sure-footed in their recovery immediately. Recovery is a lifelong process. There is no “Eureka!” moment when an addict is cured.
Keep in mind that relapse is more common than not. If your loved one falters, try not to let your obvious and understandable disappointment override your hopes for the long run. This assures the recovering addict that you won’t withdraw your love and support if they mess up. And this knowledge makes future relapse far less likely.
6- Don’t Forget Self-Care
If you’re not healthy and centered, it’s impossible to help anyone else achieve these objectives. Take care of you as well. If you fail to do this, resentment of your caretaker duties can start creeping in. Good food and exercise, plenty of sleep, and adequate alone time is crucial if you want to be a rock for someone else.
Addiction is a complicated, multi-faceted disease, and recovery can be arduous for both the addict and their support system. But with time, patience, and lots of love and reassurance, your loved one can achieve a new shot at life that they may have never dreamed possible.