Addiction is sadly commonplace these days meaning addiction recovery is something experienced by millions of families each year. Luckily, there are some addiction recovery tips that may prove to be helpful for overcoming this illness.
With 21.5 million Americans struggling with substance abuse and 80% of that number also classified as alcohol dependent, addiction strikes across all demographics.
Today, we’re not going to dive deep down into the science of addiction, though.
Instead, we’ll be giving you 10 workable tips to make life easier if you have a loved one addicted to alcohol or drugs.
We’ll point out before we get started that there’s no boilerplate solution to helping someone navigate the choppy waters of addiction and recovery.
Everyone’s situation has so many moving parts that you need to remain flexible. You know your loved one better than any doctor or therapist. You should be able to determine which of the methods and strategies below will make a great fit, which need to be tweaked to work with your family member and which wouldn’t work well at all.
With so many variables, we’ll keep things general with our advice today as much as possible. What we’re hoping to achieve is to give you a workable overall structure you can mold to your requirements.
How can you do your part to keep your loved one on the right path?
1. Educate Yourself About Addiction Recovery
Addiction is misunderstood so make it your business to educate yourself if a loved one is dependent on drink or drugs.
The more you can find out about the disease of addiction, the keener the insight you’ll have when dealing with a loved ones who can’t leave the drink or drugs alone.
Start with some general reading on addiction so you can get a better understanding before lasering in on the substance in question. Dealing with a crack addict is very different to having a family member abuse prescription pills. Coping with a chronic drinker presents very different challenges to helping someone recover from heroin addiction.
Even if you have no first-hand experience of addiction, there’s no excuse not to educate yourself and the more you understand, the more you might be able to empathize with your loved one.
If you’re researching online, always check multiple sources. The SAMHSA website (Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration) is a first-class resource.
Whether it’s through reading online or at the library, through watching documentaries or movies, educating yourself an all aspects of addiction is one of the most powerful ways you can help a family member along the road to recovery.
2. Establish Clear Channels of Communication
If you’re looking to help a loved one on the road to recovery from addiction, voicing your concerns can be challenging.
If someone you love is in any danger from abusing alcohol or drugs, tell them that absolute honesty and transparent communication is integral to recovery. From detox and initial abstinence through to ongoing sobriety and rebuilding a life rendered chaotic by drink or drugs, the more you can talk openly with your loved one, the more you can potentially help them.
It’s essential that you don’t moan and equally crucial not to blame them. You should remember that while using a substance might be a choice, addiction certainly isn’t a choice. At all stages here, you’re looking to keep channels of communication open so refrain from any judgmental behavior.
Make sure you tell your loved one how their behavior is affecting you and the rest of the family. It’s quite possible they are not aware of this when caught in the jaws of addiction.
If you can manage to create an atmosphere of trust where you can very frankly speak with your loved one about all aspects of their addiction, this gives you a solid foundation to build from. Indeed, having established this backdrop where open communication is in place, you can follow up with some family therapy sessions.
3. Attend Family Therapy Sessions and Support Groups
If you’re dealing with addiction in the family, you can find yourself suffering.
Even if you can get your loved one to talk, it’s not always easy and discussion often descends into arguments.
Family therapy programs allow you to work through problems with your loved one in a supervised setting. These programs are certainly not for everyone and you might meet resistance from your family member. If so, keep the lines of communication open at home.
You should also consider attending groups such as Alcoholics Anonymous and Narcotics Anonymous. These groups are run following similar steps to the 12-step programs they are grounded on. You’ll get plenty of tools to help you cope with addiction in the family and you’ll have the chance to meet peers in a similar situation. These groups can be immensely rewarding and beneficial for you while also helping you to help your loved one.
4. Don’t Forget Private Therapy
It’s all too easy to forget to take care of yourself when you’re trying to deal with addiction recovery in the family.
As you travel down the road to recovery with a family member, chances are addiction will have left some nasty damage in its wake. Make sure this journey doesn’t wear you down. A study showed that caregivers were often stressed, depressed and in poor health so if this sounds like you, think seriously about private therapy.
As well as placing yourself in an understanding environment, you can also learn new skills and strategies to help you keep stress at bay, release codependent behaviors and work on anger management.
It might be that you simply prefer a private session with a doctor or therapist rather than a formal program aimed at caregivers. The type of therapy is not as important as simply taking the time for yourself and making sure you don’t neglect your own needs.
5. Set Clear Boundaries
Setting boundaries means that everyone is clear about certain basics such as:
• No alcohol or drugs in the house.
• Not being intoxicated at home.
• No friends in the house who use alcohol or drugs.
• No asking to borrow anything.
These are just some examples. You will obviously need to tweak these boundaries depending on who the family member is. Things will be very different if you’re helping your partner recover from addiction or you’re trying to set your child back on the straight and narrow.
Whatever the specifics, make sure you give your loved one the maximum chance of long-term recovery. Get the environment at home right.
6. Be Patient and Realistic About Expectations
When you’re helping a family member recover from any type of addiction, you should hope for recovery but be fully prepared for relapse.
Addiction is a disease and, while it’s treatable, relapse happens with about the same frequency as you’d expect from any disease.
You should be realistic about your loved one’s attempt to recover. Remain aware that you’re not seeking a cure here but treatment and ongoing management of addiction.
Pack plenty of patience, too. Some people are able to leave drink or drugs behind them and remain abstinent without once relapsing. For others, the road is much rockier. If your family member ends up relapsing, simply redouble your efforts and view this as a natural part of recovery. Relapse is not essential to recovery but it’s commonplace.
Remember, also, to be realistic about timescales for both recovery and change to take effect.
7. Help But Do Not Enable
One thing you should always keep in mind when trying to help someone struggling with addiction might seem unnecessarily cruel.
Never make things easy for them.
If you see your loved one struggling financially, stepping in to help them before they are committed to recovery is reckless and will simply perpetuate the vicious circle.
Avoid this type of enabling or codependent relationship at all costs.
This is where setting the boundaries we mention above can help dramatically. You can make it very clear where you’re prepared to help and where you firmly draw the line.
Firmness is the key here. Establish that while you’ll help in any way you can with regard to recovery, you will not help them continue down the road to oblivion.
If you say that you won’t give them money, don’t buckle and end up “lending” them a smaller sum instead. When they want you to call in to work on their behalf or to otherwise make excuses for their behavior, refuse and stick to your guns.
8. Eat Together Whenever Possible
SAMHSA (Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration) lists the home as one of four pillars to recovery. The importance of eating together as a family when one family member is going through addiction should not be underestimated.
As with all aspects of helping a loved one recover from addiction, be realistic.
It might not be practical to get the whole family together every single night. With busy schedules and recovery-related appointment all over the place, time is tight. Even eating just a single weekly meal together as a family.
Eating together gives you a chance to extend any work you’ve been doing together in family therapy and also gives you the opportunity to voice any concerns and to encourage your loved one as they continue with recovery.
9. Help Your Loved One Find The Right Rehab Center
Maybe you’ve got a family member in denial of addiction and you need to consider staging an intervention.
Perhaps your loved one admits they have a problem and they want help but they don’t know how to go about choosing the best rehab center.
Whatever the variables, if your family member wants assistance, you need to establish whether they need inpatient rehab or whether an intensive outpatient program might be more appropriate. If your loved one is suffering from a severe addiction and liable to experience withdrawal symptoms, a medically supervised detox in a residential center is probably the best bet.
Choosing the most effective treatment center can mean the difference between relapse and recovery.
With a recovery center in place, the real journey to recovery can begin.
10. Post-Rehab: Make Sure Aftercare is in Place
Any decent rehab program, whether for drink or drugs, should have a solid aftercare component in place.
If your loved one has been in a controlled environment for a month or more, they’ll need plenty of support and aftercare when they continue recovery at home.
If you’re helping to choose a rehab program, you should ask about what happens when the program ends when you’re interviewing potential treatment centers. Make sure there’s adequate focus on continuing care.
And if you haven’t yet reached the stage of helping your loved one enter rehab in the first place, what should you do next?
If anyone in your family is suffering from addiction to the extent they need professional help, Landmark Recovery is one drug and alcohol rehab in Indiana that can help your loved one put that addiction behind them.
Remember, though, that recovery is an ongoing journey so you should remain supportive and helpful for the long haul. Whether you’ve persuaded your loved one to seek help on their own terms entirely or you needed to stage an intervention, all that counts is helping them in any way you can so you can all emerge with the shadow of addiction in the rear vision mirror.
If you’re committed to helping your family member out every step of the way through addiction recovery, reach out to our admissions team right now and get that journey started.