How Can You Support Someone in Recovery?

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One of your loved ones has gone through detoxification and an inpatient rehabilitation program; how can you support them when they get home? You may have dealt with lying, stealing, or manipulative behaviors in the past, but what can you do now that they are in recovery and need your support? They need support, but they also need boundaries.

Don’t Test or Tempt

You don’t want to intentionally test or unintentionally tempt relapse behaviors. Do you still have a prescription in your medicine cabinet for Vicodin after a back injury? You can bet that your loved one still remembers it’s there. Don’t even keep it where they can find it. Ideally, they would never relapse or take something around the house, but they’re going to have to fight cravings all of their life. Make sure your house has all drugs and alcohol put away, just as you would with a child, except these children reach up high.

Also, make sure every family celebration is alcohol-free. It’s easy to forget at first that you can’t drink in front of someone who is in recovery. You’re used to having wine with dinner or a champagne toast during a wedding or anniversary. Why do you have to change your life when it’s their problem? It’s not fair! If you’re supportive and love someone, it’s a small price to pay to keep them healthy and alive.

Learn About Substance Abuse

If you didn’t already do this when someone in your social circle had a substance use problem, educate yourself now. Understand that this is a disease that causes physiological changes that make it very hard to stop. When you truly understand that, it helps you with your patience and anger. In turn, that helps keep you from lashing out at the person in recovery. Trust me, they have enough on their plate with rebuilding their lives and finding work, a home, repairing relationships, and fighting the cravings to relapse. That’s more than enough for them to handle without the added stress from constant confrontation with family. Hopefully, you took advantage of some of the family therapy sessions while they were in rehabilitation, but you can always start or continue counseling once your loved one has moved into outpatient recovery.

Don’t Qualify Your Support

Even if you’ve gotten counseling, you may still have a lot of anger toward your loved one. And while that anger may be justified, don’t use it as a weapon to give or withhold your support. We’re not talking about someone who has relapsed and refusing to help them use again, but taking such actions as telling someone they would attend a class or meeting of your choosing “if you loved me.” Each person has to make their own choices in recovery as part of the recovery process. They are learning how to trust their own decisions and behavior all over again and choose the right thing.

Let Them Make Mistakes

That brings us to the subject of allowing people to learn from their mistakes. It’s natural to want to help someone we love and protect them from doing the wrong thing. Those in recovery are going to have a lot of ups and downs. Sometimes they’re going to make the wrong choice or do something you don’t agree with, but let them make that choice.

The exception to that, of course, is relapsing–we want to prevent a relapse if at all possible, but understand it could happen and it probably will happen at some point. The important thing is how you both react to it.

If you didn’t set boundaries before, you need to now. If you did set boundaries before treatment, you need to keep to those boundaries. That means things like not giving them money to buy drugs or not giving a place to live rent-free so they can buy drugs. The results of not allowing someone to suffer the consequences of their mistakes and learn from them can be deadly.

Take Care of Yourself

What’s the first, most important thing when taking care of and supporting others? Taking care of yourself so that you can take care of others. If someone is recovering from substance abuse, they need your support, but they need you to give it in healthy ways. Give them as much love as you can, but hold your boundaries and hold them accountable for their actions. Stay strong so that you can be someone they can lean on and someone they can trust. If your loved one trusts you, you are the biggest and most important support they need. It’s a lifelong fight, but it’s the most difficult when someone first starts the journey of recovery. It gets easier. Recovery is a lifelong process, but you get to celebrate Christmas or a wedding instead of going to a funeral.

Recovery is a lifelong process that continues once someone has gotten sober. Recovery is not easy and someone who is trying to get sober needs all the support they can get. The most important thing is to take care of yourself so you can support someone else. It’s also important to set boundaries so you don’t enable them to relapse and start using again. You can do practical things such as emptying the medicine cabinets or hiding the alcohol when someone in recovery makes a visit or joins in a family celebration. You can go to counseling with them. You can show support even when you don’t agree with some of the decisions they make. But most important of all, you can give them love. That can give someone the strength to keep going when they’re in recovery. At Everlast Recovery Center we can support those you love and we can help support you. An addict doesn’t suffer alone–their family and friends do too. We provide inpatient services in Riverside, CA, and follow up with aftercare. We can get you all the help you need. Call 866-DETOX-25

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