If a friend or loved one is in early recovery from substance addiction, you may not know how you can best support them. You may be afraid to say the wrong thing or not know where to start. Care and support is an integral part of successful sobriety, and at Baystate Recovery Center, we emphasize finding a good support system for our clients in recovery.
Your support is an important part of holistic recovery. Here are some important ways you can walk beside and support your loved one in addiction recovery.
Understanding the science behind addiction may help you be more patient with a loved one when they’re struggling with cravings or triggers. As you learn about how people can become addicted and the underlying reasons that many people drink or use drugs, you may have better insight into some triggers your loved one has and better understand how to help them work through cravings.
Part of your education includes learning more about the early signs of relapse and pre-relapse behavior. Especially if you live with the addict or have already set boundaries about sobriety, recognizing when someone is on the cusp of a relapse can help you work with them to get back on track.
Encourage Them to Remain in Treatment
If your loved one went to rehab and got sober, you may think the hard part is over. However, ongoing treatment, either professional counseling or participation in a 12-step rogram, is part of lasting sobriety. Encourage your friend to attend their meetings, even if they “don’t feel like it,” and support them with kindness after an especially emotional therapy session.
You may opt to show solidarity with your friend by attending open support group meetings, participating in a group like Al-Anon for family members of addicts, or being a “plus-one” at sobriety events.
Set Healthy Boundaries For Yourself
Part of helping someone in recovery means setting healthy boundaries for yourself. Your mental and emotional health is important, too, and sometimes, unfortunately, being close to someone with addiction struggles can affect those. Be clear with your friend or loved one about what you will and will not accept, such as using in front of you, or that your help and support is contingent on them staying sober and honoring your boundaries.
Help Remove Triggers
Triggers, for someone in recovery, are certain emotions, situations, or even people that provoke a sudden, visceral urge to drink or use. For example, one person may be triggered when driving by their favorite bar or a liquor store they used to frequent. Another person may be triggered when their boss gets upset with them. You may not be able to remove the liquor store or the boss, but you can help remove other things that could trigger them, such as having beer in the fridge or refraining from watching a TV show in front of them, like Breaking Bad, that could trigger a drug craving.
Or, there may be social situations that could be triggering. Perhaps your friend is worried about being able to remain sober when going out foor a night at the clubs or dancing. You could help them role-play responses to have ready if they’re invited out or offered a drink to prepare them ahead of time.
Are You Worried About a Loved One’s Addiction?
Baystate Recovery Center can help. We offer compassionate drug and alcohol addiction treatment, including family therapy, to help rebuild relationships. Your loved one can contact us any time for a confidential assessment and help to get the treatment they need.