When times get hard in our lives, the first people we will turn to for support will be those who love us; our friends, family, and (if we have one) our partner. These are the people who will go out of their way to help you and stand by you, and, you too, will want to return that unconditional care, but when someone we love is battling an addiction, this can become a complex task. It can be difficult to know where to start when such an issue presents itself. Whether the person you love is confronting an alcohol or drug problem, there are meaningful steps you can take to help them on their journey to sobriety and this article will provide you with practical ideas to aid in your loved one’s recovery.
Being an Active Ally
The first step you can take is to learn how to become an ally to people struggling with addiction in general. You can start with something as simple as learning the facts. By gaining a deeper understanding of what a recovering addict goes through, for example, the withdrawal symptoms they will experience and the potential triggers that make them want to use a substance again, you will be better equipped to help them when times get tough. Another step is to read up on testimonies from other sober people about the do’s and don’ts of being an ally. For example, Rachel Lander talks about how, when she began seeking help, many of her friends and family would not call her an alcoholic. She talks about how this avoidance of the word has the negative effect of minimizing the struggles of someone going sober and, in the worst case, can make an induvial turn back to an addictive substance if they are continuously told that they are not ill. In learning from others who have been through the same thing, you can better understand the plight of your loved one and know how to be there for them.
Show a Little Tenderness
Sometimes, especially when dealing with the recovery of addiction in a romantic partner, the advice often given is to cut ties and get out in order to help you both. This line of thinking, however, suggests that good relationships are worth loosing when the going gets tough; a sentiment that is, bluntly, untrue. In Psychology Today, Beverly Engel writes about actively exercising compassion in this situation, which not only helps your partner through their recovery but will also strengthen the relationship. This compassion could easily be applied to family ties or friendships as well.
Breaking Old Habits
With substance abuse such as alcoholism, a recovering person will find that their social life will need to change. For example, if your loved one would socialize every night at a bar, this will inevitably change as they try and avoid alcohol. One way you can offer support is to aid this change in social behavior proactively. Instead of suggesting where to go and placing your loved one in the awkward position of having to refuse because of their recovery, research dates that don’t involve alcohol or activities to do with friends, that limit the amount of contact the sober person has with either the substance they’re addicted to or places associated with that addiction.
Knowing when to Get Help
One of the most crucial ways you can help your loved one is to recognize when your help alone isn’t enough. We can do our best to support those we love but, when it comes to addiction, there are elements we may not be prepared for or problems we alone cannot solve. This is the time where you need to help this person find help from outside their circles of friends and family. There are fantastic rehab centers in Hawaii that could offer your loved one the medical and emotional assistance they need with their journey to being sober and well. In a place such as a rehab center, they will not only have the assistance of professionals but also the reassurance of other recovering addicts who are going through similar ordeals. Knowing when to seek professional help isn’t only good for the addict but for the people supporting them. If you are too tired or frustrated from supporting them, which is a natural occurrence when under stress, then you are limited in what you can practically do to help them get through this. By getting your loved one into a rehab center, you will also gain the needed respite from caring that will enable you to keep going throughout the long-term recovery period.
Keeping on the Straight and Narrow
Another way you can practically help your loved one is to be prepared for when they are sober. Getting control of an addiction is not a simple task and maintaining sobriety can be just as hard as kicking the habit, to begin with, so the risk of relapse is one that should not be forgotten as your loved one gets better. To combat this, you can get clued up on what measures to prevent relapse you can put in place for them and learn how to modify your behavior and lifestyle to accommodate to their newly sober life. One great way to do this is to get them to make a daily schedule to put some routine back into their life. It can include practical things such as when to take any medication they are on or when their support meetings are, but it can also help to plan a social life that helps their recovery, rather than hinder it.
A final and important thing you must do is recognize when you need help yourself. Your well being can often be forgotten when caring for someone we love who is going through such a difficult journey, but you must remember that you are going on this hard journey with them, and you yourself may need some rest or someone professional to talk to about how you’re coping with the issues.