Advice for Supporting & Living with a Recovering Drug Addict or Alcoholic

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AddictionSliderIt is a pretty common assumption that once someone suffering from addiction leaves their long term treatment facility, that their addiction is no longer an issue. However, what must be understood about addiction is that it is an ongoing battle. Though your loved one now has the necessary understanding and resources to remain sober, it will take a while for them to adapt to their new normal.

If you live with a recovering drug addict or alcoholic, learning how to further help their recovery efforts is of the utmost importance.

Extended Complications/Issues of Addiction

Addiction is a chronic illness that affects the brain. As such, it will take time for your loved one to apply what they’ve learned from their rehab treatment to their lives. They must learn a new way of living that doesn’t involve the use of drug and alcohol abuse. Dealing with the stresses of life, resisting urges and temptations, and staying on the right track can take time. There will be a lot of ups and downs as they adapt – including the potential of a relapse.

The Prescott House, a long term recovery treatment center for men, points out that relapses often occur as addicts learn to adapt to life and mend strained relationships within their family. Since addiction is often referred to as a family disease; just as their addiction before treatment affected the entire household, so will their recovery. It is therefore imperative that you and anyone else in your household learn how to support your loved one on a day to day basis.

Education and Support for Families

If your loved one was treated for their addiction through a long term rehab center, chances are that your family was asked to participate in family therapy as well. This was a critical step as it helps you to further understand addiction, learn the source of your loved one’s problem, and assists you in helping them through their recovery process. The more you learn about addiction and recovery, the better prepared you can be to help your loved one through the sober living process. If you feel as if you need further support, there are several family support groups that can provide you with further education and advice on the matter.

Lifestyle Changes as a Whole

In order for a drug addict or alcoholic to continue sober living, they will require significant changes to their lifestyle. While you can’t protect them from all the various triggers and stresses of life, it is imperative that you work with them to change negative patterns in their lifestyle. In order for this to happen, it may also require the entire household to change certain aspects of their lifestyle. Some common changes might include:

  • Eliminating Drug or Alcohol (presence of it and use of it) – You can’t very well expect your loved one to get better if there are temptations all around them. Remove all drugs and alcohol from the home as soon as possible. Also, if you’re a social drinker or user, it might be best to avoid doing this around your loved one as they recover.
  • Eliminating Toxic Relationships – Negative relationships of any kind should be avoided. If you or your loved one has friends or even close relatives that are known for drinking, using drugs, or even causing a great deal of emotional stress, it is best that you cut ties. The fewer temptations there are, the easier it is for your loved one to stay on the road to recovery.
  • Find New Interests – before your loved one started abusing drugs or alcohol, your favorite pastime may have been to hit up a local bar or social event. However, now that they’re in recovery, it will be important for you to find other things to do for fun. There are plenty of interesting things that you can do that don’t involve the use of drugs or alcohol.
  • Seeking Therapy – As the recovery process begins; it is fairly common for your family member to become emotionally overwhelmed. This could lead to increased conflicts in the household, which would lead to significant stress, which essentially could lead to a relapse. The American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy suggests that not only should your loved one seek therapy, but that the entire family gets professional help as well. Therapy can help everyone through this difficult process and provide them with the platform to sort through their emotions at each stage.

Helping a loved one to continue their quest for sober living requires a great deal of understanding and patience. Learning what to do, what to say (or what not to say), and how to further support the healing process is the best thing that you can do for their recovery efforts. While there is no guarantee that the healing will go smoothly or that your loved one will remain sober putting your best foot forward and providing the best support possible can certainly improve the chances.