Sometimes recovery can be overwhelming. Not just for the recovering alcoholic or addict, but for their loved ones as well. It can be difficult to figure out exactly how to have a relationship with your recovering addict or alcoholic that is supportive and nurturing. Addiction Blog posted a great article about this subject that has a lot of helpful information, so I am sharing some of it here with you as well.
Addicts seem to get the concept of “one day at a time,” but families seem to struggle with this. We want a contract, a promise, or a guarantee of a perfect future. We want the Norman Rockwell painting, but that is a lot of unfair pressure to put on our loved ones. To expect their sobriety to solve all of our problems and make the entire family whole is a tall order.
We must not forget that the recovering addict has a lot of work ahead. In most cases, the drugs and/or alcohol have been used to mask deeper issues that they will now need to face without the numbing effects of drugs. On top of that they will still have cravings to deal with. Rehabilitation teaches addicts how to manage their addiction, but it cannot eliminate the desire.
Once your loved one accepts treatment, it is important to be prepared for the possibility of relapse. So what can you do to improve the odds of sustained recovery?
1. Get educated on addiction and the recovery process. Education is the most important key. The family must understand the recovery process and the challenges their loved one will face. It’s difficult to help another person if you don’t understand the problem. This includes understanding what your role has been in enabling him or her. One of the best places to get educated is through Al-Anon. There are also endless resources online and at your local library.
2. Provide a sober environment. If alcohol, prescription drugs, or illegal drugs are available in the home, the odds of staying clean are slim to none. The entire household must be abstinent.
3. Seek support for your own physical and emotional health. Each person must put the primary focus on themselves. Support groups like Al-Anon are just as important once the addict goes into treatment. Sobriety can cause new strains on family relationships, and this can be a challenging time for everyone. The healthiest way to handle these changes is for each person to stay focused on his or her own path.
4. Support your spouse’s involvement in continuing care. It is not uncommon for family members to grow jealous of the recovering addict’s commitment to their recovery program, such as A.A. We must not forget that this is an extremely important part of their long-term recovery.
5. Work on forgiveness. It can be just as easy to get preoccupied with the recovering addict’s behaviors as when he or she was using. Constantly looking for clues of relapse and waiting for them to ‘mess up’ again will only harm recovery. While it’s true that trust is earned, we can easily push the recovering addict back into old patterns if we are still holding onto resentment and punishing him or her for past mistakes.
Relapse Is Not Inevitable
Although recovery can be a rough road, it does not mean that relapse is inevitable. In fact, a promising statistic is that over half of the people who get treatment eventually reach a state of sustained recovery. But it’s important to understand just how vulnerable the recovering addict can be – even after years of sobriety.
These 5 tips to support your loved one in recovery will help you to nurture a healthy relationship with the addict or alcoholic who is working hard to recover. What do you do to support your loved one’s long-term recovery?