So, someone you care about has finally sought help for their addiction. While it’s a relief for all involved, it also comes with its own challenges. Helping someone through their recovery journey is a new experience, and the specifics of what a person needs will vary from one person to the next. Nonetheless, we can confidently offer some advice for you to follow to show your support and help someone you care about make it to the other side.
Millions of people around the world have struggled with addiction and many researchers have studied the phenomenon on a neurological and psychological level to understand it. While book knowledge is only a single component of understanding and supporting someone who’s struggling with addiction, it’s helpful to tackle your own preconceived notions about the condition by using the experiences and study that have already occurred.
Instead of reinventing the wheel by working blind, read about the sociological and traumatic roots of addiction and how the scientific understanding of addiction has evolved beyond the moral model.
It’s hard to comprehend what addiction does to a person if you haven’t been in that place. If you want to help someone, then believe what they say about their experience and be compassionate in encouraging them along their path to sobriety.
Ask How You Can Help
Directly asking someone what you can do for them is an underrated way to get at what that person needs from you. A good, heart-to-heart talk about what’s worrying them and how you can help them often illuminates the situation for both parties. The support they need might be emotional, or maybe there’s a way you can pick up the slack for them in their personal responsibilities so they can continue attending counseling after rehab while working. While you need to maintain your own boundaries and be realistic about the help you can offer, the knowledge and insight that an honest conversation can offer make it worthwhile even if your individual ability to help is limited.
Check On Them
The slide into relapse is often a gradual one, where a person’s newly-built good habits and coping mechanisms gradually fail them and they return to drug abuse after weeks or months of this decline. Checking on a recovering loved one to make sure they’re doing well is extremely valuable, and offering to come over and spend time with them or help them with the tasks that are wearing them down can make a tremendous difference.
Support Their Abstinence
While you don’t have to quit drinking alcohol as a show of support, you shouldn’t drink around someone who’s trying to be sober. Instead, find an opportunity every now and then to have a substance-free fun occasion with them to help your loved one remember they don’t need alcohol or drugs to have a good time.
Help Them Follow Through on Long-Term Treatment
Besides short-term inpatient rehab, long-term treatment such as a stint at a sober living home or outpatient counseling can go a long way to help a person recover. You should encourage someone to pursue this sort of long-term care, and listen to any concerns or anxieties they have about the process.
Advocate For Them Within Your Family
Addiction and recovery are strenuous on both a physical and psychological level, and the tendency of addiction to correlate with mental illness can amplify this effect. A person who’s undergoing recovery doesn’t need additional stress, and one of the most valuable things you can do is speak to less cooperative members of the family and insist they be supportive of your loved one’s recovery.
Reach Out for Further Guidance
It can be difficult to tackle the topic of addiction, with all of its complexity and cultural baggage. If you want to help but you feel like you don’t know how to do so, the America’s Rehab Campuses blog is full of informational resources you can touch on. If you need further assistance, reach out to us for treatment suggestions and advice on how to handle your loved one’s recovery journey.