It cannot be overstated how difficult and painful it can be to see a loved one battle an addiction or suffer from mental health problems. Truly, when a loved one enters into treatment, support and encouragement from family and friends will become the backbone of their recovery platform and will serve to strengthen their resolve to continue their journey towards sobriety.
Often, the strongest forms of support come from those who are closest to the person in recovery, as strong family bonds tend to reinforce the notion that they are not alone. What’s more, when a family is united, the recovering individual is able to rely on the family as a whole, especially during the rough times ahead. Family members play an important role in helping a loved one on the road to recovery. Below are some strategies to support a loved one’s recovery:
1. Show non-judgmental love and support
It is not uncommon for an individual in recovery to feel like family and friends are judging them, which can easily interfere with their recovery progress. Thus it’s important that you let your loved one know that you care about him or her. Start by letting them know that you respect their effort to stay sober, for instance.
The recovery process can be a long road, and realistically speaking, at some point your loved one may lack motivation to continue, and will stop adhering to treatment. It is okay to feel disappointed, however it is just as important that you continue to show your love and support for them until they get back on track.
2. Encourage your loved one to maintain healthy habits
Physical, mental and emotional health is critical to a recovering person. Therefore, encourage your loved one to exercise regularly or participate in active self-care practices and routines. Perhaps you can come alongside them in achieving their goals, whether through becoming their gym partner, learning to cook a healthy meal with them, or just being there for them to vent and provide a push in the right direction.
3. Encourage them to take part in treatment by doing so yourself
Depending on the kind of disorder and the level of the disorder or addiction, your loved one may be expected to go through extensive treatment for a long period of time. Some important ways that you can get involved include holding them accountable in the goals that they’ve set, as well as providing instrumental support in the day to day activities of life once they return home.
Remember, however, that addiction is a family disease, and there are steps that you too should be take individually in order to best help your loved one.
Plan to visit them at the treatment center
When they return home, offer to drive your loved one to meetings
Schedule family counseling sessions when they’re in treatment, and as they return home. This helps to create awareness about how family dynamics may have been affected by the disorder or addiction.
Attend family support groups. Support groups are a great place to learn how to take care of yourself during the recovery period. Support groups also equip you with knowledge on how to stop enabling addictive behavior.
Participate in your own individual therapy
4. Promote recovery by creating a sobriety conducive home
Your home environment should be one that encourages sobriety. Therefore, it is critical that you avoid bringing alcoholic beverages to the house, especially while your loved one is in the early stages of recovery.
Avoid inviting your loved one to celebrations that will serve liquor, or at least prepare them ahead of time so that you can develop a plan of action. It’s important that you learn to engage in fun activities sober so that they can participate without feeling tempted to indulge.
5. Take care of yourselves as a family
Taking care of a person in recovery is without a doubt very draining. Nonetheless, it is imperative that you be at your best so that you can continue offering the best support possible to your loved one. Your loved one’s entrance back into the home environment is bound to be full of trials and frustrations, thus, self care is highly important. You need to be able to work through negative emotions and have the ability to communicate them in addition to your support and understanding.
6. Educate yourself on addiction
Your loved one can relapse at any point during the recovery journey. So, it is important that you educate yourself about the illness of addiction. This helps to ensure that you are able to spot signs and symptoms of relapse before it occurs, as well as be able to address them with compassion and understanding instead of anger, shame, and stigma. If you notice any signs of relapse, take action immediately.
7. Learn to set boundaries
Learning to set boundaries is one of the hardest things to do with people we love and want to help. It can often feel cruel and unloving rather than supportive. But to truly demonstrate love to family in recovery, healthy boundary setting is always necessary. Boundary setting is important for two basic reasons:
They protect our own well-being and the health of other family members.
They protect against enabling our loved one to death (literally).
If we ourselves can’t stay healthy during a loved one’s addiction process, how can we be helpful and supportive to them? If we can’t help protect the health of other family members affected by their addiction, are we really loving the family how he hope to? And if we really want to protect a loved from harming themselves from their addiction, can we truly do that if we aren’t willing to set boundaries that prevent enabling behavior? Setting boundaries in the form of knowing when to say no is perhaps the most important thing a family member can do to support their loved one.