Having a friend or family member in recovery from addiction can be one of the most difficult times in your life. Nobody wants to see someone they care about struggling, but recovery is critical to the rest of their lives.
Whilst someone is recovering from addiction though, you’ll need to know how to support them. There are some dos and don’ts when it comes to what help you can offer, and this guide will help you understand this a little better.
Read on to learn more.
Remain Positive And Supportive
Recovery is a difficult process for an addict, so one of the best things you can do is to remain positive and supportive to their recovery. Find any ways you can help them and always be there to communicate.
A recovering addict may be struggling with emotional troubles and may need someone there to talk to from time to time. You will need to be there for when they contact you.
However, it’s important that even when they seem as though they are in their darkest hours, you need to reassure them and remain positive to their recovery.
Remind them how far they have come and why they are going through recovery. Tell them about the good days that lie ahead of them if they continue with their recovery process.
If your friend is not in an inpatient rehab facility, it’s a good idea to take part in hobbies and regular activities with them. It occupies their mind and keeps them fit and healthy during their recovery.
While communication is important during recovery, everybody is entitled to their own privacy – and sometimes, a person recovering from addiction will want to have their own private times.
It’s totally understandable that you may fear they could relapse or struggle with their emotional and mental health during “quiet times” – but the one thing you need to do is keep your faith in the person.
When they are ready to talk again, be there for them. You may wish to ask what they were doing or where they were – but if you do this, do not pry. If they do not wish to talk about it, simply respect their privacy and move on.
This follows on from respecting the recovering addict’s privacy, but it’s very important that you build trust with them. If you do not trust a recovering addict, they may feel you are patronizing them and may stop contacting you altogether.
Additionally, they may feel that nobody has any belief in their recovery and this can lead to a relapse. It’s critical that you build trust with the person and never treat them as if they are incapable.
They will not only respect you more for this approach, but they will likely call you for help when they really need it, and you can be their rock during a very hard time.
Do Not Criticize
One of the worst things to experience is criticism. While it is true that positive criticism can be useful, recovering addicts may not respond well to criticism at all.
This is particularly true when it comes to negative criticism. The recovering person will feel as if you are not on their side and you do not support their recovery. This can lead to a relapse.
It can also contribute to the feeling of shame, embarrassment and remorse. For some addictions, this can send them straight back into the depths of their addiction for good – or can even lead to serious depression.
Do Not Threaten
Many people have spoken about the “tough love” approach, but those in recovery will not respond well to this and you may simply lose them forever.
When all is said and done, if someone wants to be in recovery – threatening them to stay in it may lead them to do the opposite as they feel they are not in control of their choices.
Not only that, but the person in recovery may feel as though you are not being supportive as you are making demands.
Do Not Expect Immediate Change
Recovery is a long process and at times it can be trying and you might be thinking to yourself – how can you continue with this?
Remind yourself that change is not rapid. You must continue to support the person in recovery and understand that you will not see change right away.
However, you can keep a diary and note down the progress you have seen with the person. In dark times, refer to their progress and if you need to, remind them of their progress and how far they have come.
Find Support For Yourself
Recovery is of course difficult for the addict, but also for their support network. It can be mentally and physically draining, especially when you have your own problems to deal with.
However, it’s critical that you separate your problems from the addict and deal with them on your own. The one way you can help yourself is by seeking support.
A therapist, a doctor or a counselor can help you work through your thoughts and feelings and allow you to vent. If you feel better emotionally, you will be better placed to help the recovering addict.
It’s also important to keep yourself fit and healthy physically. Consider something like yoga that encompasses the body and mind and can help you on a daily basis.
In fact, you can take the person you are supporting to gyms or yoga classes with you and this will keep you both busy and healthy at the same time.
The Bottom Line
When it comes to supporting a recovering addict, you’ll need to make sure you’re following the dos and don’ts in this guide, but also ensure you are looking after yourself.