Recovering from active addiction to alcohol and/or drugs is a long road. Support from family, friends, and other loved ones is pivotal during the process. It can be overwhelming for the family during this time because of stress and uncertainty of how they are supposed to react to the situations they are faced with. The disease of addiction is cunning, baffling, and powerful all in itself and the family might not know what to do. These survival tips can help when dealing with a loved one who is in the midst of the recovery process.
Survival Tips for the Family
Be conscious of your loved one’s feelings
Alcoholics and addicts are very sensitive people. It’s not so much that you have to tiptoe around every word and phrase that you say to them, but you may need to be careful about how you approach your loved one. When you are coming from a loving perspective and tone of voice, you are more inclined to get a better response from your loved one instead of having them get all riled up. Sometimes conversations can escalate with alcoholics and addicts no matter what gets said. Being tactful, speaking softly, and having mindfulness with a subtle speech can prove to help you communicate with your loved one while allowing you have a less argumentative relationship with your loved one, ultimately benefiting the both of you.
Take care of your needs
Whether they admit it or not, your loved one is going to need your support. This means that you are going to have to be there for them. If you aren’t able to take care of yourself, then you won’t be able to be supportive of your loved one in their time of need. Taking care of yourself includes properly nourishing your own body, sleeping an adequate amount, exercising, and making sure you can keep up the right amount of boundaries when it comes to having relationships with other people in your life.
Understand that your loved one can’t return to using substances, even in moderation
This is a matter that some families tend to not understand if they aren’t familiar with the disease of addiction. Whether they think that a treatment facility or program has “cured” their loved one’s disease or believe since the substance is no longer in their loved one’s body, then it must mean it is okay for their loved one to attempt to moderate using substances. The truth of the reality is that if your loved one is a true alcoholic and/or addict, then they cannot control their drinking and/or drugging! Moderating their use is not a viable option nor is substituting with any other substance. A drug is a drug and it will all be downhill from there. Ultimately, you can’t make the decision for your loved one or control their behaviors, but you can understand this fact and not condone the behavior if you do notice the warning signs.
Don’t be offended
Your loved one may still be functioning off some self-will, self-vindicated, and dishonest behaviors. Nobody is saying that these are tolerable or fair. All you can do for now is accept your loved one with where they are at and see that through their process of recovery, they will working to implement serious changes in their life. You will witness their growth and as a result, big life-changing results may begin to happen right before your eyes. These changes may happen sometimes quickly but other times slowly. It just takes patience and diligence on all parties involved because it can be challenging to take part in for both those watching and doing the work.
Learn to trust your loved one again
This may not occur for quite some time, especially not right away after a countless number of lies, manipulation, schemes, stealing, and other heinous acts that weren’t so much your loved one but rather an attribution of their disease, almost as if it were another person because it was so out of character. Trust is crucial but it is something that does have to be gained and will have to come over time. It will be a powerful moment when your loved one can officially say it was redeemed, but be wary you don’t pass it over too easily.
Grasp the importance of the bond you hold
The bond you have with your loved one is special and shouldn’t take this for granted for even a moment. Having a loved one thrown into the chamber of addiction is a nightmare, but having them released to the path of freedom is one of the most freeing and beautiful experienced.
Know how vital it is that your loved one be actively working with others in recovery
To keep what your loved one has, it is suggested they keep active with recovering individuals. Continuing to reach out and help keeps others who are recovering from an alcohol and/or drug addiction working together. This creates a community of outreach where everyone is helping one another to stay clean and sober.
Beware of codependent behaviors
It can be too easy to slip back into the role of a nurturing family member and then latch onto your loved one. This can suffocate your loved one and then you may end up enabling them. When you become an enabler, you may be stunting their recovery growth by keeping them financially stable, paying for bail, helping them when they shouldn’t, being supportive in times their loved one has scammed them, helping them get a job, allowing them to stay in the home without paying, and making life simpler for them with no consequences. Your loved one won’t learn and is likely to resort back to substances when enabling occurs.
More: Co-Dependent No More
Don’t jump to conclusions
Get the facts about warning signs of a relapse, but be sure not to jump to conclusions. It can be helpful to be prepared, but there may be nothing worse than accusing your loved one of a crime they have not committed and having a heated debate that could have been easily avoided.
Have faith that it will get better over time
If there are hard moments for your loved one, just know that over time, it will get better as they trudge on through. No matter how difficult it may seem, the moment will pass. They will be laughing or smiling at one point again. Recovery will instill a peace within them they may have never thought they could find within themselves. It is just a process they need to be patient with.
There you have some survival tips for the family who may be dealing with a loved one who is going through the process of recovery. Keep in mind this is a family disease where all individuals may be affected in some way, so the best piece of advice may be to just be patient during this time and know that it gets better for anyone who impacted.