Our Top 4 Tips To Make Recovery Last
Long term recovery takes some hard work and courage, but not just for someone with a Substance or Alcohol Use Disorder (Addiction). Friends and loved ones are affected, too. You can become addicted to “helping.” Having someone in your life who has substance abuse issues affects your relationship, but your own mental health suffers, too. Are you anxious every time your phone rings? Do you feel something else bad is going to happen? They are common feelings, but there is a solution for you.
Addiction treatment is a time for loved ones in recovery to work on their issues. They have to learn how o build back your trust and love. But you have things to learn, too. How does your own behavior around addiction make things better or worse? The recovery process is also a time for you to work on repairing the damage that their addiction left you with, and it can be difficult to navigate. Here are some do’s and don’ts when it comes to supporting your loved one through addiction treatment and sobriety.
If you have never had a loved one go through addiction treatment, you probably aren’t going to know everything about it. In order to best support your loved one during this time, you want to make sure you are educated about addiction and treatment.
Educating yourself will help you communicate with and understand your loved one, and it will also help you educate others in your family. This is especially important if you have children who are also affected by the addiction. Learning more about addiction and addiction recovery will make you and your family a better support system for your loved one, but it will also help you go through your own emotions as well.
When your loved one goes through treatment, you are also going through a recovery process. This is especially relevant if the loved one is a close relative who you have lived with or spent a lot of time with. Dealing with someone while they are in active addiction can take a serious toll on your mental health, therefore you are also going through a change and so is your family. When you have a better understanding of addiction it can help you be more forgiving and compassionate toward your loved one.
Forgiveness is just as important to your journey as it is to theirs, which is also why learning about their addiction is helpful.
Going through something like this alone and without any support behind you can be a serious challenge, and no one should have to face it alone. You can find support in many places but the first place you should look is to other family members. Sometimes it can be really helpful to speak to someone who is going through the same thing you are, and when you share a loved one with another person, you are both dealing with their addiction treatment. It is very likely that no matter what each of your relationships are to that person, you are both going through similar feelings.
If there is not a family member you can seek support from, or you want to find other sources, going to a group meeting is a great way to find people. Groups like Alcoholics Anonymous and Narcotics Anonymous have meetings for family members of addicts. During these meetings, everyone has the opportunity to share stories and feelings and work through their emotions together. This is a great way to get some much-needed help, and you might meet someone who has a very similar story as you. These meetings also usually have people who are much further in their journey and can give you very helpful advice.
The healing process is not going to be complete, so it is very important to not ask too much of yourself or your loved one as you both go through it. While they are in treatment, you have the opportunity to begin healing and forgiving, but this doesn’t mean that you have to resolve all of your differences at once. Even though your loved one is working on improving themselves and getting sober, having someone in your life who is addicted to one or more substances will impact your mental health and relationship.
When your loved one is an addict, your relationship with them can create trust issues. People who are in active addiction often lie and steal even from loved ones, and while they might regret this behavior it could take some time for them to build back your trust. When repairing a relationship, forgiving someone for their behavior and trusting that they will not do it again do not often occur at the same time.
You should not feel pressured to give back your trust or loosen your boundaries right away. This will come in time, and trying to force it upon yourself could end up being counterproductive. Remember to take the time you need to feel comfortable trusting this person in your life fully again. Setting boundaries is very important, and throughout the process of their treatment and recovery, you can adjust your boundaries when you feel comfortable.
When your loved one is going through addiction recovery, your feelings of apprehension are entirely valid, and navigating through your love and resentment at the same time can be complex. However, when you agree to support someone and work through their recovery with them, it is very important not to weaponize your love. You are allowed to and should set boundaries to keep yourself protected from further harm, but threatening to leave or cut contact is often counterproductive especially if you don’t truly mean it.
Part of rebuilding your relationship and supporting your loved one while they better themselves is to be there for them. Your support is important to their recovery, so while you may have things to work out on your own, threatening to leave them when you actually don’t intend to is damaging to both of your healing.
Jenn Walker is a freelance writer, blogger, dog-enthusiast, and avid beach goer operating out of Southern New Jersey.