How Family and Friends Can Help With Recovery

Published: 12/13/17

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Being a friend or family member of a person struggling with addiction is a difficult job and, most likely, one you didn’t even know you signed up for. Reaching that critical milestone when your loved one acknowledges their problem and agrees to get help is an enormous achievement. But a successful recovery for your loved one is dependent on follow-through, and they’ll need your continued support to keep them on track and hold them accountable. What you can do during this time may depend on the type of treatment your loved one is receiving.

If your loved one has been admitted to an inpatient treatment program, your opportunities to interact with them may be limited. Each treatment facility has their own set of rules and guidelines in place to maximize the effectiveness of your loved one’s treatment. If your friend or family member will have the opportunity to read emails or letters, expressing your continued love and support through writing can often be helpful. It’s important to filter the content of your communication and ensure that your words reflect positive encouragement that will build your loved one’s confidence.

Sometimes, inpatient programs allow visitation or facilitate group and family counseling sessions, as we do at Recovering Champions. By consistently participating in these programs, you will reassure your loved one that you have made the commitment to their recovery, just as they have. Studies show that active involvement from family and friends increases the likelihood of lasting sobriety.

Keep in mind that, at the end of the program, your loved one will be returning home, often to the same enablers that drove them to addiction. If you haven’t already, this may be a great opportunity for you to reflect on your own enabling behaviors or environmental factors that may interfere with your loved one’s sobriety. Formulate a plan to eliminate or reduce anticipated stressors, as these triggers can easily lead to cravings and the possibility of relapse.

Once your loved one returns home—or during continued outpatient treatment—you can provide support and accountability through your ongoing involvement in treatment efforts. Familiarize yourself with your loved one’s treatment plan and reinforce positive and productive behaviors. This means being able to recognize when your loved one is struggling and reminding them of healthy coping strategies.

It may be helpful to find a local recovery group and attend the meeting regularly alongside your loved one. Being present at these meetings can encourage your loved one to open up in group settings and get the most out of the sessions. Once they’re comfortable with the group, they may assure you that they can attend on their own. While this is a definitive sign of progress, continue to follow up with your loved one regarding their meeting attendance to remind them of your continued commitment.

It’s never easy for an addict to complete recovery, especially if they’re going through it alone. Many times, you, as friends and family members, are the rocks that form the solid foundation on which your loved one can build a new, healthy life. Don’t underestimate the power of your love, support, and encouragement during this critical point in your loved one’s life.