Advice for Families With A Loved One in Substance Abuse Recovery
Loving an addict is an incredibly difficult task. It can literally drive family members insane from worry. Knowing that someone you love is suffering from addiction is terrifying, sad, and might feel helpless at times, but there are a few things you can do. If you are able convince your loved one to seek treatment and begin their substance abuse recovery, it’s important to always remember that taking care of yourself is a priority. It’s a lot easier to pull someone down the wrong path than to lift someone out, so you need to stay strong.
Stay grateful for your relationship with a loved one as they work through substance abuse recovery. It is important to keep a positive attitude and have gratitude for how far they have come. Remain mindful of the possibility of a potential relapse – know the signs to look for and be aware of guidance you can provide to keep them on the right path.
Dealing with an Addict. What You Need to Know.
Addiction is a selfish disease. Addicts manipulate, lie, steal, and will stop at nothing to get their drug of choice when they are in the grips of addiction. As a family member, it is difficult to not try to make things easier for them, but this can result in a dangerous codependent situation. The last thing you want to do is be an involuntary accomplice in their addiction.
Tough love is necessary in dealing with an addict. This means that you definitely should not give them money – no matter what they say it’s for. Remember that obtaining drugs or alcohol is their priority and that is more than likely where the money will be spent. Encourage them to seek treatment, because most people cannot come out of addiction unassisted.
Loved Ones in Recovery – It’s a Day by Day Process
Substance abuse recovery is an ongoing process. When a person goes to treatment, they do not come out cured or ridded of their addiction. They were simply given the tools they need to start a sober lifestyle. What they do in the days, months, and years post-rehab is crucial. Having a sober support system is an essential element to successful sobriety.
It is important for loved ones to understand that there are still many steps to be taken. While the addict is still in treatment, begin planning and work to understand exactly what their long-term care plan is. Extended care is a good idea for most patients, programs like an intensive outpatient program, or even seeing a therapist a few times per week may help.
On your part, it is crucial to listen to what the therapists and doctors say about your loved one. They are trained professionals who have seen hundreds of these cases. While each case is unique, they do know what is the best course of action for their patients.
The Fear of Relapse and How To Cope
Fear of relapse is a relentless fear that will live in the minds and hearts of people who love addicts. It’s a valid fear. Statistics show that in the first year, there is a 67% chance of relapse. However, this goes down over time. By year two, the chance is down to 50%, and after five years it is only at 15%.
This being said, you can’t live your life assuming a relapse occurred every time your loved one doesn’t pick up their phone, because that is not a healthy way to live. The best thing you can do is to keep encouraging them and appreciating how far they have come. You should also indulge in your own hobbies, care for yourself. If you keep your loved one in substance abuse recovery under a microscope, it’ll only drive both of you insane.
On the flip side, be mindful of the signs of relapse so that you can help intervene before it is too late. Relapse always begins way before the actual drug or drink is picked up, and there are certain behaviors that indicate it is coming. They include:
- No longer participating in what keeps them sober, like meetings or therapy appointments.
- Talking excessively or glorifying their days of drug or alcohol use.
- Spending time with negative influences.
- A return to their addict behaviors like secrecy and anger
- A significant situation in the person’s life like a breakup, job loss, or death that could send the person over the proverbial edge.
If you think a loved one may be on the road to a relapse, keep encouraging them to do the right thing. Spend time with them doing sober activities you both enjoy. Take them to their therapy appointments or other sober support gatherings. Be there for them in the right way and you can help fortify their sobriety while they get stronger.
Looking on the Bright Side
With addiction comes a lot of fear, sadness, and anguish. To keep yourself happy and also be encouraging to your loved one, it’s important to recognize how far you all have come. Keep the darkest days in the back of your mind as a reminder of reality and where things were. Just don’t allow those memories to come to the front and cloud your judgement for the future.