Your loved one is working through drug and alcohol addiction treatment. You are proud of them but worried about the consequences of a mistake. You may know the risks – an estimated 40 to 60 percent of people will relapse at some point, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse. You want to help, perhaps even to take it all away for them or to lock them in a bubble, but you know you can’t do that.
What You Can Do
So what can you do to support your loved one in recovery? The more comprehensive the care you provide, in the right way, the better. Here are several steps to take to feel empowered in helping your loved one.
Know Their Treatment Protocol and Support It
By far the most important thing you can do is to encourage your loved one to continue their treatment plan. Learn what type of care they are receiving. It may be just for drug addiction. Or, it may include co-occurring disorder treatment because of underlying mental health concerns. Your goal should be to know:
- What medications they are taking
- When and how often they are continuing their counseling
- Where their local recovery meetings are located
- When to reach out for family therapy
- Whether they are receiving life skills therapy or rehabilitation
Your goal here should be to simply know what they are supposed to be doing to ensure they are following their care plan. Don’t encourage them to skip meetings. Support them even through those difficult moments when they don’t want to stick to the plan.
Create Meaningful Events Without Risks
Every person with drug and alcohol addiction is facing the constant risk of relapse. This is made much more difficult when they are surrounded by substances. Create opportunities for them to engage in activities, family events, and celebrations without drugs or alcohol present.
Remember that abstinence is critical for long-term recovery. That means avoiding exposure to drug use, as well as avoiding people who may trigger a strong emotional response to push them towards drug or alcohol use. Make sure they don’t have to choose between being around family during a holiday and exposing themselves to relapse risks.
Communicate with Them in a Positive Manner
It’s really difficult to recover from addiction. Numerous challenges lurk around every corner. As a support for your loved one, remember that your words matter. Be positive and motivating in your communication. Here are some examples.
- Tell them you are proud of them.
- Don’t use the word “but” in any situation when you are describing your feelings for them.
- Express to them how hard they are working and encourage them to stick to the path.
- Encourage them to work through hard times without minimizing how hard those moments are.
- Expect some push back. Don’t waiver in helping them to stay on the right path.
Create new opportunities for your loved one, too. Perhaps you can start a new activity or hobby that has nothing to do with alcohol or drug use, such as hiking or camping. You may want to do this together, but don’t forget that they may need some space, too.
Know the Warning Signs of a Relapse
Your next task is to know when to react. During stressful times and high-risk periods, your loved one may be at risk for relapse. Try to anticipate these times and encourage them to see their counselor or go to more recovery meetings. Be assertive in your actions when you see warning signs like these:
- They are not taking their medications as prescribed.
- They are talking about using–or talking more about drugs and alcohol in general.
- They exhibit changing attitudes towards recovery and staying clean.
- They are under intensifying stress at home or work and not managing it well.
- Their sleeping or eating habits are changing, negatively affecting their health.
Keeping the lines of communication open is important, but it’s not easy. Many people who are facing addiction didn’t open up before they began using. That means they may need help doing so now. Be as flexible and as open as you can with them. Be sure you are encouraging them to reduce their stress in healthy ways and to talk to those who they feel comfortable with as often as necessary.
It’s also important to work on reducing family friction and to create a safe place for your loved one where they do not feel judged. Talk to your loved one with an open mind, encouraging them to talk to you about what’s really happening.
Here to Help
Don’t forget you’re not alone. Our team at DK Solutions Group can support you as you support your loved one.