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Tips for Supporting a Loved One in Recovery

Tips for Supporting a Loved One in Recovery

Recovering from a drug or alcohol addiction is a journey that can be challenging, not just for the person in recovery but also for their loved ones. As a family member or friend of someone in addiction recovery, it is important to provide support and encouragement to help them stay on track and achieve their goal of long-term sobriety. However, figuring out the best ways to support your loved one can be overwhelming.

Tips for Supporting a Loved One in Recovery

Below are our favorite tips to help you provide the best support possible for your loved one. 

  • Learn About Addiction and the Recovery Process: Understanding addiction and the recovery process is crucial when it comes to supporting a loved one in recovery. A complex, chronic disease, addiction affects more than just the person struggling with it. It affects their entire support system, including family and friends. The more you know about addiction, the better support you can provide.
  • Be Empathetic: Empathy is the ability to understand and share the feelings of another person, and in this case, it means truly putting yourself in your loved one’s shoes and acknowledging their struggles. By practicing empathy, you can provide the emotional support and understanding your loved one needs during this challenging time.
  • Encourage Open Communication: Let your loved one know that you are available for a chat anytime they want. Encourage them to share their struggles and achievements, and make sure to listen without judgment. Avoid interrupting or offering unsolicited advice. When discussing sensitive topics or expressing concerns, use “I” statements instead of “you” statements. This helps to avoid blame and defensiveness, and it focuses on your feelings rather than accusing the other person
  • Listen to Your Loved One: Be engaged in the conversation. Maintaining eye contact, providing verbal cues, and nodding shows you are genuinely interested in the conversation. Repeat or paraphrase what your loved one has said to ensure you understand their perspective correctly.
  • Establish Boundaries: Boundaries help create a supportive environment and ensure both you and your loved one have the space you need to grow and heal. You should set clear, healthy boundaries and stick to them. These boundaries are designed to protect both you and the person in recovery. Make sure these are discussed and agreed upon.
  • Support, Don’t Enable: Avoid enabling behavior. Enabling involves protecting your loved one from the consequences of their actions, which can slow their recovery progress. Instead, encourage personal responsibility by allowing them to face the natural consequences of their choices. Supporting a person in recovery involves promoting their self-sufficiency, not making it easier for them to relapse. Avoid giving money or making excuses for their addiction-related behavior.
  • Celebrate Accomplishments: Celebrate their progress, no matter how small. Recognizing even small achievements can boost your loved one’s morale and motivate them to continue their journey toward lasting recovery.
  • Encourage a Healthy Lifestyle:  Support your loved one in maintaining a healthy lifestyle, such as practicing good personal hygiene, eating a balanced diet, staying hydrated, getting a good night’s sleep, exercising regularly, and other positive habits.
  • Avoid Substance Use Around Your Loved One: Refrain from using drugs or alcohol around your loved one. Be respectful and considerate of their situation. If you do choose to drink or use substances, try to do it away from them.
  • Help Establish a Relapse Prevention Plan: The relapse prevention plan may include identifying triggers, developing healthy coping mechanisms, and building a support network. Encourage your loved one to attend therapy or support group meetings to gain additional tools and resources to prevent future setbacks.
  • Have Coping Strategies Ready to Deal with Setbacks or Relapse: Supporting a loved one in addiction recovery can be a rollercoaster ride filled with both progress and setbacks. Setbacks or relapses are, unfortunately, a common part of the recovery process. However, it is essential to remember that they do not signify failure. Equip yourself with coping strategies to help our loved ones navigate these challenging times.
  • Encourage Connection with Others in Recovery: Suggest that your loved one get involved with others in recovery. Support groups such as Alcoholics Anonymous (AA), Narcotics Anonymous (NA), and other 12-step groups can offer a community of people who understand what they are going through.
  • Stay Patient: Remember, recovery is a long-term process. It requires a lot of time, patience, and hard work. It is okay to feel frustrated or discouraged sometimes, but keep encouraging and believing in your loved one.
  • Take Good Care of Yourself: Taking care of yourself is equally important when supporting someone in recovery. Make sure to attend to your own mental, emotional, and physical health during this process.

Is Addiction Controlling Your Life?

If you or someone you know is struggling with addiction to alcohol or drugs, now is the time to get help. A chronic brain disease, addiction can affect anyone. At Anabranch Recovery Center in Terre Haute, Indiana, our skilled professionals will provide the tools you need to live a sober life. Take the first step on the path to recovery and reclaiming your life. Contact us today.

About the author

Terry Hurley is a retired educational professional and freelance writer with more than fifty years of experience. A former reading specialist and learning center director, Terry loved her years working with children in the educational field. She has written extensively for print and online publications specializing in education and health issues. For the last six years, her writing focus has been on addiction and mental health issues.

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