How To Support a Loved One in Recovery
Written by Jonathan Strum
The difficult process of recovery can be made easier through the help of addiction professionals and the support of friends, family members and loved ones. However, the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has changed the recovery landscape for many. With many states adopting social distancing measures, enforcing facility capacities and limiting community resources, some people can’t find the support they once had.
You may see your loved one struggle with feelings of stress, anxiety, or depression due to the pandemic’s isolating effects. You may be struggling with these feelings yourself. People sometimes use drugs or alcohol as a way to self-medicate and treat these symptoms, but it can lead to dependence and addiction. For people in recovery, these mental health symptoms can cause a relapse.
It can be stressful supporting your loved one in their recovery during these difficult times, but resources are available to help.
The Importance of Support in Recovery
Experts believe the support of friends and family is an essential part of a person’s long-term recovery. Loved ones can help motivate them throughout their journey and keep them responsible for staying sober. If someone you know is struggling in their recovery, you can be someone who provides them the support they need.
However, it may not always be possible for someone without an addiction to relate to someone who’s currently in the midst of one. This is why peer support is another helpful component of long-term recovery. Programs like Alcoholics Anonymous and SMART Recovery connect people in recovery with others who are going through similar experiences, creating a feeling of camaraderie and community.
Ways To Support a Loved One in Recovery
There are several helpful ways you can support a friend, family member or loved one during their recovery journey. The first step is to understand that addiction is not a choice or a moral failure — it is a disease, similar to conditions like diabetes and high blood pressure. And, just like other chronic diseases, relapse is common.
With that in mind, here are some ways you can provide support to your loved ones in recovery:
- Practice patience: Understand that the recovery process is often full of stumbles, mistakes and other roadblocks. Recovery is not typically measured in total abstinence; instead, success is seen through longer periods between relapses and marked improvements in life situations like relationships and employment.
- Communicate and uphold boundaries: You do not want to enable your loved one’s addiction or enable certain behaviors. For example, if you say that you will not provide them with money, you need to communicate that and follow through with your statement.
- Remove substances from the home: Avoid drinking or using drugs around a person in recovery.
- Encourage them to communicate: Let them know they can talk to you anytime, whether they’re doing well or not. Also, encourage them to attend meetings and support groups with people going through the same situation.
- Build a better foundation: You may have been hurt by your loved one when they were still using substances. Services like family therapy can help rebuild your relationship and improve communication going forward.
- Attend support groups yourself: It can be difficult to know how to navigate situations that arise when someone is in recovery. Groups like Al-Anon and Nar-Anon provide support for families and friends of addicted loved ones. Their meetings allow you to gain knowledge, share experiences and learn about new strategies you can use.
Every situation is different, but these tips can help you foster better relationships and support for a loved one when they’re struggling in their recovery.
Is your loved one struggling with addiction?
We offer physician-led treatment for drug and alcohol addiction in Ohio. Call us today to speak with a Recovery Advocate for free about how we can help your loved one.
Resources for Recovery
While the pandemic may have ended in-person meetings and other resources for the time being, many virtual support services are available. The Recovery Village Columbus offers two helpful resources that connect people to support while staying safe at home: a telehealth app and virtual meeting rooms.
Through our telehealth app, clients can receive treatment for substance abuse and co-occurring mental health conditions from licensed therapists and counselors. Our meeting rooms allow support groups to meet for free in a private and confidential online space.
The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration also provides a thorough list of resources that can help you and your loved one find the support you need during their recovery journey. Some examples include:
See Related: Addiction Resource Guide For Family & Friends
You’re Not Alone
Recovery during a pandemic may seem overwhelming, but you and your loved one are not alone. The Recovery Village Columbus provides a variety of services, including family therapy, that can help you and your loved one maintain long-term recovery and improve your life situation. Contact us today to learn more about treatment plans, recovery programs and other resources that can work well for your needs.