Five Helpful Tips for Supporting a Loved One’s Ongoing Journey Toward Recovery
If you have a loved one suffering from a drug or alcohol addiction, then you know the unexplainable pain of watching that substance take hold of their life. On the other hand, you may also know the tear-jerking happiness that comes with witnessing your loved one seek help and go to rehab. While rehab is an effective and courageous first step toward a life of sobriety, it is up to friends and family to help those who are recovering stay on track once they return home.
The percentage of individuals who relapse after recovery from a drug addiction is 40-60%, based on a report from The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA). Taking effective measures to protect oneself against the various stages of relapse is absolutely essential.
Take a look at the following 5 suggestions for supporting a loved one after their stay in rehab, and play an active part in helping lower the relapse rate. These suggestions are broad. Helping a loved one differs depending on if they are your child, spouse, parent, sibling, or friend—so you will need to give some careful consideration about how to apply them to your own unique situation.
1. Make Adjustments
Rehab is very effective in helping the individual identify the cause of their substance abuse. Your loved one will return home knowing what their triggers are, and it is up to you to help them make life adjustments to avoid those triggers. Relapse triggers are toxic situations, environments, or relationships. This includes unhealthy friendships with other users, a dysfunctional home life, or a stressful job. But triggers also come from within, through negative thoughts, anxiety, and depression. At the core, all relapse triggers are psychological.
Your loved one will likely come out of rehab with a plan from their counselor. Work with your loved one and their counselor to help support that plan even if it means supporting them financially, helping them find a new job, or even relocating with them to another area. Your sacrifice could make a huge impact!
2. Create Boundaries
Coming out of rehab, your loved one likely has a new sense of independence and responsibility. It may be time for you to examine your relationship with your loved one and adjust the way you interact with them to support that independence. Create attainable expectations in regards to:
- Household duties
- School or work
- Family time
- Attending meetings
Note: The plans you make should be in accordance with the counselor’s suggestions.
3. Help Inspire
Be an inspiration to your loved one by helping them get involved with healthy, sober hobbies and activities. You do not necessarily have to have the same hobby as them, but show them that you are making a change as well to give them a buddy through this process. Check out these healthy hobby ideas:
Help your loved one find a hobby that fulfills their spirit, lifts them up, and makes them feel good. Help them to personally know the difference between this kind of satisfaction and the short-term rush that comes with using substances.
4. Walk Alongside Them
Saying that you support your loved one is one thing, but joining them in their efforts to stay clean is another. Show your support with these selfless suggestions:
- Practice sobriety around your loved one
- Remove all substances from the home
- Stay away from social situations with alcohol
- Tag along to meetings and appointments
- Assist financially while they work toward self-sufficiency
5. Endlessly Encourage
Encourage your loved one’s continued recovery by being intentional about your attitude and actions towards them.
- Be positive about their change.
- Show hope for their improvement.
- Act confident about their recovery success.
- Take active interest in their new hobbies.
- Listen to their struggles, accomplishments, questions, etc.
- Encourage the entire family (if a positive influence) to be involved.
- Give them time to adjust to being home.
Know Your Limits
Remember how influential your role is in your loved one’s sobriety success, but also remember that it is ultimately up to them to stay sober. Keep these suggestions in mind and do your best to create a safe and stable place for your loved one to continue to recover. Additionally, be informed about red flags to look out for and contact your loved one’s counselor if you are afraid they might relapse.