Once an individual with a substance use disorder has gone through detox, they have taken the first step towards recovery. However, the hard work isn’t finished there. Recovery is a continual process that they must wake up and choose every single day. If you have a loved one who recently went through treatment and is in the beginning stages of recovery, you likely want to do anything that you can to help support them. It can be challenging to know how to do this effectively without overstepping any boundaries or making the individual uncomfortable. Thus, it is important to know not only how the support from others affects an individual in active recovery, but also how to offer support in a positive way.
The Importance of Support While in Recovery
Struggling with a substance use disorder can cause an individual to feel isolated from their family and friends. They may feel guilt, shame, and embarrassment, even after they have sought treatment and are on their recovery journey. It’s very important to have a strong support system during this time. A support system can come in a lot of different forms. It may be family members, friends, neighbors, church groups, peer recovery support groups, or treatment programs.
A support group includes people that an individual can reach out to on days when recovery is particularly hard. They may be struggling with their mental health or experiencing an urge to relapse. Their support system is there to not only provide a listening ear but express their love and care for the individual and encourage them to stay on the path to recovery.
What You Can Do to Support Your Loved One
#1.) If your loved one is starting recovery, one of the best things you can do is educate yourself regarding how addiction really works. Understanding that it is a medical disorder can help increase your level of compassion for the individual and what they are going through. It’s also important to learn how to avoid stigmatizing words that could be detrimental to your loved one’s recovery journey.
#2.) Provide a listening ear when they need it. You don’t have to have experienced addiction before to be a good listener or offer advice when it is asked for. The individual may just need to express how they are feeling without the fear of judgment or ridicule.
#3.) Make sure that the individual feels included. Loneliness can be very detrimental to recovery. While it wouldn’t be prudent to invite the individual to a party where you know substance use will likely be taking place, consider them to join you at other events such as a sports event, an exercise class, or a trip to the movies.
#4.) Avoid engaging in substance use while around the individual. While it may seem like a given, don’t provide the individual with unnecessary temptations by leaving drugs or alcohol around when you invite them over or using it in front of them, especially when the individual is at the beginning of their recovery journey.
#5.) Politely inquire about how treatment is going for the individual if they feel comfortable sharing. In the case that they express wanting to stop attending meetings, encourage them to seek out other forms of treatment that fit their needs and will help them stay on the path of recovery.
#6.) Seek out healthy, sober hobbies that you can engage in together. This can be great for the individual’s mental health because it not only allows them to focus on something positive, but it gives them the opportunity to socialize and feel included. Some ideas of sober activities could include:
- Going on hikes
- Meeting weekly to watch a favorite television show
- Cooking and sharing a meal
- Taking an art class together
- Working out together
- Going on a shopping trip
- Taking a bike ride
- Having a movie night
What to Avoid When Supporting a Loved One in Recovery
There are some things to avoid when supporting a loved one who is going through recovery.
- Don’t be overly nosey about an individual’s recovery journey. This might not be a topic that they are always going to be willing to discuss. Allow them to share what they are comfortable with but don’t press for more information.
- Don’t get angry or judgemental. If the individual hits a rough patch in recovery, provide them with support and encouragement and remind them of why they decided to get sober in the first place.
- Don’t remind them of past failures. Instead, celebrate their success with them.
- Don’t allow your own mental health to suffer as a result of supporting your loved one. Make sure that you are taking care of yourself.
It is very important to have a strong support system while entering recovery. Struggling with addiction can cause an individual to feel isolated from their loved ones. They may be experiencing feelings of guilt, shame, or embarrassment, even after they have gone through treatment. This is the time they need support the most. A support group may be made up of family members, friends, neighbors, or people within a treatment program. The best way to support a loved one during this time is to provide a listening ear, lift them up when they are struggling, and make sure that they feel included in social gatherings. At Achieve Concierge we know that having a loved one with a substance use disorder can take a toll on your mental health at times. We offer a variety of services that can help support you during this time. Call (619) 393-5871 today to learn more