Apparently September is quite a month, as it is National Recovery Month. It is a topic very near and dear to me as some of my favorite people and good friends have been fighting addiction facing those daily challenges to stay clean. They face constant challenges that I cannot even imagine, which is why I wanted to discuss the importance of the friends and families of addicts too, and how much your love and support can help them and assist them to stay clean and sober.
There are plenty of resources from in-patient hospitals and rehabilitation centers available for families and loved ones that can be attended while your loved one is being acutely treated, going through the detoxification process, and learning their own coping skills to help them fight this battle. But learn from the inpatient process just as the addict is learning, about coping skills, triggers, stresses, and ways to combat them.
-Stay sober with your recovering addict friend. To show solidarity and so that they aren’t tempted to drink or do drugs.
-Help them the first few months to deal with various stressors as they are getting used to their new sober life: do they need help with scheduling child care? Paying bills? Getting a job? Any way that you can help them ease back into their lives and allow them to start taking responsibility without using drugs or alcohol, is a win for everyone involved.
-Know the signs of a relapse and pay attention. Ultimately it is NOT your responsibility if a recovering addict relapses, but know the signs: are they secretive? Acting like they did before rehab? Shying away from you? Hanging out with the same people they did when using before? Step in and say something. Be aware of the change in behavior and talk to other friends/family members so that you are all on the same page and one united front, to help your friend.
-Don’t forget to take care of yourself and the other family members should get help as well. A lot of times people need professional counseling to work through the feelings that they had when their loved one was currently using, and then the feelings they may have once they get clean. Sometimes couples counseling or family counseling can be really helpful for everyone to work through their issues and feelings in a healthy way, so that they can all move forward and be healthy together.
What else do I need to know?
Being aware of the need for continued counseling can help along with knowing the signs that your loved one might show when stressed and at risk for using is really key. You don’t want to baby them and do everything for them, but it is a huge change going from a life of using drugs and/or alcohol to cope with problems, to learning to cope yourself with these life issues, so helping them through the transition period, where a recovering addict may be most likely to relapse, can be an immense help to a recovering addict. Also, make the time to check in with them to ensure that they are coping well with their new sober life, and they aren’t tempted to use; if they are, get them safe and get help from a professional (like their counselor or Healthcare Practitioner). Knowing the signs of use or high stress can be integral in preventing a relapse, and keeping your loved one sober. And remember, it is THEIR responsibility to stay sober, but as someone who loves them, you can help them on that journey, and a relapse isn’t a fail on anyones behalf, it is an unfortunate part of recovery.
So appreciate all of the hard work that your recovering loved one has done to stay sober and change their lives to be healthier and cope in different ways; it is a huge life transformation and a daily challenge. Give them love today and let them know how much you love them and appreciate their hard work.
Yours in Good Health