4 Ways To Support Friends Or Family Through Addiction Recovery
When someone you love is suffering from addiction, it’s natural to want to help them. Aside from volunteering to check themselves into a rehab center, you may be their only chance at starting their journey toward recovery. Here’s how you can show them love and compassion:
1. Be supportive even when they’re oppositional
When faced with the opportunity to recover, addicts often become oppositional and resist the idea completely. You may find yourself in a heated situation where your friend or family member denies they have a problem and won’t even discuss recovery. You might be tempted to argue, fight, or make them wrong; none of which will help them pursue recovery.
The best way to support someone in this situation is to remain calm and agreeable, and don’t push them into anything. No matter how hard you try, you can’t force someone into seeking treatment; they need to make a choice and commitment on their own.
Rather than attempt to move a resistant conversation toward recovery, turn the conversation into one of support and love. Tell them you love them, you’re here for them, and you’ll support them further when they’re ready to take the first step.
2. Research all the treatment options
If you’re going to have a discussion with a friend or family member about getting help for their addiction, you’ve got to be prepared with options. You’ll already be up against some resistance, so they’re likely to reject your suggestions at first.
The most common treatment option
Most people are familiar with 12-step programs. According to Wikipedia, these programs are “a set of guiding principles outlining a course of action for recovery from addiction, compulsion, or other behavioral problems.” The 12-step program was originally created by Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) in the 1930s and has since been adapted to support the recovery from other addictions.
Although many people report successful recovery using 12-step programs, others don’t. The reason for this discrepancy in experience could simply be the fact that the structure of the program doesn’t appeal to everyone. If someone is seeking treatment for a major addiction, they need to feel comfortable and confident in their treatment plan, or they won’t recover at all.
12-step programs aren’t the only options
If your friend or family member opposes the structure of a 12-step program, be sure to acknowledge their need for a different method. Rather than insisting they join AA or NA, stay calm and ask them what type of environment they’d feel more comfortable in.
The dilemma many people face with traditional 12-step programs is they don’t resonate with the religious aspect of the 12 steps. If that’s how your loved one feels, be sure to research alternative options for addiction recovery. There are many ways to treat addiction, and each person will benefit from choosing the one they resonate with most.
3. Understand that relapse is normal
It’s scary when someone relapses because it appears all of their hard work just went down the drain. Sometimes a relapse can cost a life, and others are lucky enough to escape that fate.
While relapses should be taken seriously, know that it’s a normal part of the vicious cycle of addiction. Some people require multiple episodes of treatment before they are out of the woods.
4. Be support at arm’s length
Although it sounds harsh, the best way to support someone with an addiction is to remain at arm’s length. Someone recovering from addiction needs to build the strength to stand on their own feet. That strength will be the foundation of a healthy recovery.
Your biggest asset in helping your loved one recover is setting boundaries with clear consequences. For example, let them know if they’re going to come into your home, they need to be clean and sober. If they violate this boundary, the consequence is they can’t come over.
To enforce your boundaries, you need to be direct, but you don’t need to be mean. You can simply say, “We agreed that you’d be clean and sober when you come over. I love you, but this doesn’t work for me.”
Enforcing boundaries reduces the impact of addiction on your life. If you allow your boundaries to be violated, you’re also perpetuating their addiction. Say what you mean and mean what you say, and you’ll gain their respect. Their respect for you could be the inspiration they need to achieve a full recovery.