Overcoming a drug or alcohol addiction is one of the most difficult things a person can do. It is not easy to learn to recognize the various habits, triggers, and behaviors that contribute to someone’s ongoing struggle with substance abuse. As a family member or friend, you may find yourself wondering what the best ways are to help someone you care about.
Drug recovery is a lifelong process that starts the minute the addict realizes they have a problem. From there, detox and rehabilitation follow. Several different types of treatment may be required. But what happens during the program and after it’s completed? What happens after your loved one comes home and begins to reintegrate themselves back into society?
Of course, if you care about them you want to help but you may not be sure exactly how to do it. Here are some suggestions on how you can best help someone you care about after they enter addiction therapy:
Encourage Them to Continue with Their Treatment and After Care Routine
It’s easy to be tempted into believing that once your loved one enters rehab, the hard part is finished. However, most people end up learning that is rarely the case. The truth is that just staying in treatment can be a daily struggle for many addicts, especially those attending for the first time.
Drug recovery requires a commitment every single day. This can be a difficult habit for an addict to develop. That’s why encouragement and a positive attitude from you can help. Remind them of the importance of active participation in their treatment and regular therapy attendance.
If the treatment center offers family therapy, your attendance could be tremendously helpful and supportive for them. After that, when your loved one leaves therapy, a solid sense of community among their close family and friends goes a long way in helping them get better.
Get Educated on Substance Abuse
There are a lot of bumps in the road to drug recovery, even after rehab has been completed. Your loved one will most likely struggle with reintegrating into society, going back to school/work, seeing old friends, and many other situations. These and many other issues can threaten their sobriety and lead to a relapse.
Understanding how drug addiction and alcoholism work, and the physiological and psychological dependency that is created, it becomes easier to understand why it’s so difficult to overcome. It also gives you the tools necessary to help your relative or friend navigate their recovery.
There are countless printed materials, along with a wealth of information online to help you understand the science behind addiction, along with recognizing the warning signs of relapse, and how to establish a relapse prevention and recovery plan.
Establish Healthy Boundaries with Them
One thing that many addicts learn how to do, even if on a subconscious level, is to manipulate others. Many times, they use this manipulation to get others to help them. If you truly want to help your loved one with their drug recovery, you will need to create and enforce boundaries.
This is not only to protect your own mental and emotional health but your loved one’s as well. Make it clear that you want to help them in any way that you can.
However, also make it clear that your help is conditional on the premise that they stay sober, respect your boundaries, and get treatment if they have a relapse.
Be Honest with Them and Others
Now is not the time to keep your mouth shut if you see concerning behavior. If you suspect that your loved one has relapsed or even if they are just falling into old habits or behaviors, you need to speak up and be straight with them.
Find Hobbies to Enjoy Together
Establishing recreational and social activities that don’t involve substance use is crucial to ongoing drug recovery. It will not only serve as a foundation for long-term sobriety, but it may also create an opportunity for you to spend time with them and nurture your own relationship. A few suggestions include:
- Playing music
- Taking a class
- Attending a movie or show
Remove Behavior Catalysts and Other Triggers
One of the biggest obstacles to your loved one’s continued sobriety is their surroundings and associates. Just a few small changes can be a major help in removing temptation. If they spend a reasonable amount of time at your house, removing alcohol and keeping prescription medications locked away is a great start.
Something else you could do is to change the places you hang out and be sensitive when suggesting places to get together with friends. Bars and nightclubs should be out of the question.
Places like pool halls, bowling alleys, and even sports bars may also be too tempting as drinking can lead to a relapse as a result of lowered inhibitions.
Get In-Shape/Healthy Together
Exercise and physical assertion are great tools for staying sober. In addition to the many health and wellness benefits it offers, many former addicts find working out is the best way to establish positive new habits and routines quickly.
It also produces natural, healthy endorphins which aid in mental health. However, staying on an active exercise schedule can be difficult. This is where working out together can have huge benefits not only for your loved one and their drug recovery but for your overall health as well.
A Lot of Effort Goes Into Long-Term Drug Recovery
Like anything else, the only way to be successful in lifelong recovery is to take it one day at a time. While that might seem like the refrain of every substance addict you’ve ever met, that’s because it’s true.
Every day there are new experiences, new challenges to be overcome, and new issues to be dealt with. By applying the principles mentioned in this list, you can help your loved one stay sober over the long haul.