Chances are, you might know someone engaged in or recovering from substance use disorder (SUD). If the person is a loved one, a friend, or a neighbor, you could help them through their recovery journey.
According to a national survey conducted in 2019, about 20.4 million Americans had experienced addiction in the preceding year. The survey also found that scores of people die every day due to an overdose.
While the statistics might seem grim, there is hope. People recover from addiction, and you could play a role in their recovery.
One of the ways to do this is direct them to get help at Behavioral Health Centers. With their top-notch treatment facilities and programs, many addicts can recover from the disorder and return to a healthy and fulfilling life.
The next best thing you can do is support your loved one through their addiction recovery. Here are five tips to help you get started:
1. Don’t Judge Them
Most of the time, people recovering from alcohol and drug addiction have already gone through a lot of guilt and shame.
They are likely to suffer from low self-esteem and may harbor negative feelings about themselves. What they need from you most is empathy and understanding, not another round of guilt trips and judgment.
Such people need to feel accepted, loved, and appreciated for who they are. They will heal faster if they know you value and care for them. Let them know they are not as useless as they think of themselves.
2. Remember That Addiction is A Disease
Alcohol and drugs normally rewire the human brain and disrupt its normal functioning, leading to addiction. The disruption leads to a misleading value system that leans toward supporting the continuity of substance abuse.
Naturally, you will understandably get frustrated with close family members or friends when you see them willingly consuming things that are harmful to their well-being.
For your own sake, you may sometimes have to limit your contact, especially if the addicted person is still actively involved in alcohol or substance abuse. However, avoiding them too much might eventually seem like rejection.
It may make them feel ashamed and unwilling to reach out for support. During their recovery period, you need to make recovering addicts feel free to open up to you regarding how they fell into the addiction trap. Only then can they be ready to embrace your support freely.
3. Avoid Using Your Love and Comfort Against Them
Being in a close relationship with a substance or alcohol addict can be tricky. However, you have to try as much as possible to avoid saying things like, “if you loved me, you would do the right thing and stop your annoying habit.” Such an approach might look like blackmail.
Instead, lace your message with a lot of love and a willingness to help them out of their situation. It is essential to constantly remind them that you would be the ever-present support they need during their recovery.
Such a move helps them know they are not alone in the recovery journey and that it is doable.
4. Letting them Learn From Their Mistakes is Part Of The Healing
When supporting a person struggling with addiction, it is common to wish you could offer more help. You might be tempted to begin manipulating them toward making the right decisions.
However, please let the person learn how to tactfully evade tempting situations on their own. Allow them to learn how to speak out unashamedly about their tribulations in the hands of addiction.
You only need to help them when they blunder, besides showering them with the necessary love and encouragement.
5. Understand That Recovery Support is Not a One-Off Event, But a Lifelong Process
It is good to understand that change has to be gradual and may face setbacks. Over the years, studies on addicts have shown that a majority of people recovering from drug and alcohol abuse addictions experience at least one relapse after a few months of being sober.
Only one out of three people recovering from substance addiction may not experience a relapse in the first year of being sober. However, as the period of abstinence keeps increasing, the chances of a relapse diminish.
It is crucial to appreciate that relapses are not a sign of failure in the journey toward recovery. Instead, they indicate that the treatment approach needs to be changed.
People who have a family member addicted to drugs or alcohol often agonize just as much, sometimes even more than the person who is addicted. If you are supporting a person recovering from a habit that is addictive, you need to find your source of healing too.
Taking proper care of yourself will help you withstand the pain of watching your loved one struggle with addiction’s devastating and undignified effects. Besides, it will practically teach them recovery-related behaviors.