Commitment is a crucial part of addiction recovery. Addicts and family members should remember that sustaining recovery takes determination. Knowing and fully understanding the obstacles to the healing process can help. When someone decides to seek a treatment program for substance abuse, they may believe rehab and detox comprise the whole of the recovery process. However, detox and recovery from alcohol addiction is just the first step. When a loved one suffers from alcohol addiction, and has taken the first step to recovery, it will help them to know they have a strong, encouraging support system every step of the way.
Choosing to live a sober lifestyle is more challenging than some believe. However, sobriety can be much more comfortable with the support of friends and family as well as outside support groups. The completion of an addiction treatment program is not the end; a recovering addict will still need support from loved ones. If you are not sure how to be supportive of your loved one, try following these tips:
- Do not judge. Many recovering addicts believe friends and family constantly judge them. When supporting a recovering alcoholic, try to hold back from negative comments. Instead, show them how much you love them, and how greatly you respect their decision to stay sober.
- Establish a substance-free atmosphere. When an addict is recovering from alcoholism, it is best that they surround themselves with others who are free of substance abuse. It is also a good idea to surround themselves with those who encourage them to steer clear of places or events that could tempt them to relapse.
- Listen. When battling addiction, the addict will need someone whom he/she can lean on to voice concerns or frustrations. A form of support and be there for him/her during the struggles and celebrates accomplishments.
- Boost healthy activities. Try to help your loved one find positive activities that are not centered around alcohol, such as hanging out with family and (sober) friends or rediscovering hobbies they once enjoyed before alcoholism dominating their lives.
- Recommend connecting with a support group. Attending support groups such as Alcoholics Anonymous can help them talk to other recovering alcoholics while also receiving support and encouragement. Listening to the testimony of other alcoholics and sharing their own struggles can help them staying sober. Knowing how one alcoholic has overcome their addiction can help another.
- Try to be understanding. Recovery is a long road. It is not accomplished overnight. Alcoholics can slip up and make mistakes during their recovery process. That does not mean they are a failure. It only means they are human and need your support now more than ever. It is important to remind them that you are still there to help them get back on track when relapses occur.
Know the Signs of Relapse
Addiction and mental health disorders can be sporadic, meaning substance abuse or relapse can occur at any time. If a recovering alcoholic receives support and encouragement from friends and family, they are more likely to stay sober and walk the straight and narrow path. However, relapses do happen, even in a supportive atmosphere. Since relapses can occur periodically, this can affect not only the addict’s life but the lives of others around them. When supporting an alcoholic in recovery, it is essential to be aware of the signs of relapse and have a plan of action so you can help your loved one seek treatment as soon as possible.
Signs of relapse include:
- Sweating, restlessness, trouble concentrating and sleeping
- Choosing to spend time away from friends, family, children or spouse
- Behavior and mood changes
- Connecting back up with friends who use alcohol or drugs
- Reminiscing on past drug usage
Even though relapse is common, there are ways you can help reduce the chances of relapse or the severity of it:
- Know the initial signs of relapse
- Come up with a plan if relapse ever occurs with your loved one and other family members beforehand
- Keep an eye on your loved one’s behaviors and track any noticeable changes
- Contact treatment providers to help decide on a plan to prevent relapse
In case you do believe relapse has occurred, it is crucial to express your concerns. Be sure to remind your loved one that even though relapse is not healthy, it does happen, and you are still there to support them in getting on the right track. Also, during this conversation, you may suggest that they contact their counselor, therapist, or sponsor as attending a support group may be beneficial.
Helping a Loved One Recover
Alcoholism (now known as alcohol use disorder) is a severe disease. It is difficult for family and friends to watch their loved ones travel down such a dark path. Fortunately, treatment, recovery and support options are available for alcoholics, and for family members of addicts (such as Al-anon meetings). Each year many Americans struggle with addiction and seek the help they need to live a better and sober life – the life they were meant to live. If you live with an alcoholic, you know how troublesome it can be. When the addict seeks treatment, it is time to for a differing challenge: living with a recovering alcoholic. Contact Serenity Acres to talk with a treatment specialist on how to find the proper treatment option to help your loved one on their road to sobriety.