Substance abuse can lead to addiction, and people who have not struggled with addiction often think getting sober is a one-step process. Go to rehab, get clean, and that is it- the problem is solved. When in fact recovery is something addicts have to work on for the rest of their lives. Addicts have spent so much time being addicted to their substance of choice, the thought of using consumes their mind. Knowing how to help a recovering addict is something that we at Serenity Acres want to help you know how to do. Getting your loved one to one of our rehab facilities is only the first step. When they come home from rehab, the process of long-term sobriety continues.
Dos and Don’ts of Helping a Recovering Addict
For a non-addict, or someone that does not have a substance abuse problem, it is hard to understand and grasp the concept that someone cannot just quit. Recovering from addiction is hard, and it is a long-term process.
You cannot “make” someone stop their substance abuse or addiction. They have to be mentally and physically ready to quit the substance and begin the lifelong journey of staying clean and sober. Once they have decided to stay clean, it is important for you to know how to support them.
Addiction tends to be the “giant elephant” in the room that no one wants to discuss. However, addiction should be discussed to help you understand their addiction as well their recovery process. The conversation is not always going to come easily, especially when addicts can be reluctant to ask for help and even seem like they are in denial about having a substance abuse problem.
Having an open and honest conversation with your loved one can be a huge step in the right direction.
It is essential you set and reinforce boundaries with your loved one. It is okay to set rules based on your comfort level. A basic rule is to let them know “if you are not sober you cannot be here.” When you set rules, it is important to follow through with consequences when these rules are broken. For example, if a boundary is set that they cannot be in your home if they are not sober, and they show up under the influence, hold your ground and do not let them stay. If an addict breaks the rules and is not held accountable for their actions and decision, they believe that it is ok to continue because you continue to allow them to overstep the boundaries.
Supporting a Recovering Addict after Treatment
Your support is going to be a key part of your loved one’s recovery. The road to recovery is easier to manage when it is not walked alone. Once your loved one has received the treatment they need, they will continue to need your support at home. In treatment, they do not have easy access to drugs and alcohol, but when they are home all of their old temptations are readily available.
The following are helpful ways you can encourage sobriety.
- No judgment – When an addict gets home show them love, support, and accept them without judgment. Helping an addict without judgment can be difficult, but try to stay positive, use open expressions of love and acceptance, and avoid negativity as much as you can.
- Listen – Do not just listen for the sake of listening but listen to their struggles and their triumphs. This goes back to open conversation. Since this is a life-long journey, there are going to be struggles. Even when the struggles are hard to hear, do your best to still be loving and supportive.
- Sober habits – Help your loved one find new healthy, sober hobbies. It could be bowling, reading, cooking, staying active, or any other sober activity that may bring them joy. Help your loved one find a healthy activity to keep their mind occupied. Activities with their family and friends are beneficial to help keep them supported and sober.
- Patience – Just as this is a long road for them, it can be long for you as well. Remaining patient through the process can help them and you.
- Sober environment – Try and create a sober environment for them to come home to and be around. Any type of alcohol or drugs in the home can be detrimental and lead to a relapse. Encourage them to find self-help groups, sober friends, join a support group – such as narcotics anonymous (NA) or alcoholics anonymous (AA), and find activities that bring them joy. Support groups can be helpful because though physical health is important, mental health is equally as important.
Relapse occurs when they fall back into their previous addictive behaviors. When you continue to support an addict through their recovery they are more likely to stay sober and avoid relapse. Long-term recovery is not easy and you and your loved one will likely hit many obstacles, but remember, love, support, open communication and clear boundaries can help. Remember, addiction recovery is hard for all involved not just the addict but friends and family as well. The recovery process can be painful, and the feeling of having your loved one sober again is worth all the work.
Why Choose Serenity Acres
There is never a wrong time to reach out for help for you or your loved one. Substance abuse and addiction are things no one should have to deal with alone, and we are here to help. At Serenity Acres we do not just prepare for an addict’s stay in rehab, we help teach ways to cope and stay sober in the outside world. Please contact Serenity Acres today to take the first step to sobriety. We would love to talk with you about our treatment options and how we can help you or your loved one!