Posted by Steps to Recovery on February 28, 2013

So, your family member has finally decided to begin his or her journey of recovery. That’s an amazing and encouraging moment! But how can you help them along in being successful? Here are 5 ways to be supportive of recovery for your loved one.

1) Don’t have unrealistic expectations. Be aware that the suffering addict might have a hard time or even relapse. Addiction is a chronic disease and relapse is often an unfortunate part of the journey. Recovery is a lifelong process, and sometimes a relapse can be what really catapults the addict into the deeper work that will really create intense healing. It’s ok if your loved one relapses, even if it’s frustrating and scary.

2) Be supportive even after the addict has completed treatment. Even though your loved one has completed their program, they will need continuing encouragement and help. Especially in early recovery, family support and involvement can make all the difference, so be there, stay in touch, and lend a hand when you can. Spend time with the recovering addict. The more time they spend with supportive people, the less time they have to make decisions that may be harmful to their recovery.

3) Educate yourself about addiction. Until you have an understanding of what your loved one is going through, you won’t know what to do to be a part of the solution. Read all you can about the disease of addiction. It will help you to understand what your loved one is going through, and it will help increase your feelings of compassion.

4) Participate in the treatment process. Addiction affects the entire family, and family plays a role in the addiction as well. Whenever possible, family members should participate in the treatment process as much as they can. Family counseling, education and support groups can help bring awareness about family dynamics that are contributing to the problem and will help the family members start shifting into healthier roles. By being involved and becoming educated, the family members are also learning ways to be supportive of recovery long term, it’s important to remain supportive after the addict completes treatment and on through long term recovery.

5) Help yourself. The most important of all the ways to be supportive of recovery is to help yourself. How does the addiction of your loved one affect you? Really take a look at your own role in the addict’s life and what that means for yourself. Many people who are close with an addict don’t realize that they have their own role in the situation. Many people find that support groups like Alanon or Alateen help them deal with the often painful realities of loving an addict or alcoholic. Others prefer individual counseling or other forms of support. Whatever you choose, make sure that you are also receiving the support you need.

These are just 5 ways to be supportive of recovery for a loved one. How are you involved with the recovery of your family member?