When it comes to addiction recovery, support from loved ones is crucial. If you’re trying to help someone overcome their addiction, it can be challenging. Every day, you’ll face new hurdles and obstacles. You want to show your love and support, but you don’t want to be taken for a fool or enable their addiction. How do you find that balance?
Creating balance is an individual challenge, so it will require self-reflection and prioritization in your own life.
Here are a few things that can help.
- Say the Right Things
Addiction recovery is a long, difficult journey that involves many mistakes and setbacks. It takes time and effort on both sides to recover, and what you say to your loved one while they’re recovering can make all the difference.
“A stable support system is vital for any recovering alcoholic’s success, according to the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence. So, if you are a friend or relative of someone who has hit rock bottom but has bravely decided to be admitted to a[n]…alcohol recovery program, then you have a grave responsibility to encourage her to keep going,” says an article from the women treatment and recovery program New Creation. “Sometimes, one of the best ways to help her stay on the right path is simply by knowing what to say and what not to say.”
The article goes on to suggest several things that you might say that could be detrimental to your loved one’s healing. Try to avoid undermining their condition, making empty remarks designed to make them feel better, trying to empathize when you’ve never been through it, or pitying them. You also shouldn’t doubt their progress or make them feel inadequate in their recovery.Your verbal support will help them heal more quickly than they could on their own.
- Learn Compassion
“Compassion is the most powerful tool you can have when it comes to healing addictions of any kind. In other words, what your loved one needs the most from you is compassion,” says Beverly Engel, L.M.F.T. in an article for Psychology Today. “The word compassion comes from the Latin roots com (with) and pati (suffer), so it denotes ‘suffering with’ another person. When we offer someone genuine compassion, we join them in their suffering.”
Showing true compassion involves recognizing a person’s pain and suffering, hearing them, allowing them to express themselves, and ultimately caring enough to soothe and support as they work through difficult problems. We don’t have to agree with everything they’re doing, but we can offer a gentle hand to help them through the most difficult moments.
“Compassion is especially effective when it comes to healing substance abuse problems, especially the issue of shame,” Engel continues. “Addiction and shame are closely connected. In fact, most, if not all who have substance abuse problems have been shamed, both by their childhood experiences and by their behavior surrounding their addiction. Like a poison, toxic shame needs to be neutralized by another substance—an antidote—if the patient is to be saved. And as it turns out, compassion is the only thing that can counteract the isolating, stigmatizing, debilitating poison of shame.”
- Go to Rehab with Them
Rehab is often the first step in a very long recovery process, but it’s not easy to do it alone. Many people recognize the need for outside help, but they’re too afraid to go alone, so they don’t go at all.
You can’t check into rehab with them, but you can be there for them every step of the way. Go with them to their initial consultations, attend support groups with them, and offer a supporting shoulder after difficult therapy sessions. Visit your loved one often, and don’t let them think they’re alone, even when the going gets rough. Being there is often all one needs to be successful in recovery.
- Take Care of Yourself
The person who is going through addiction recovery will feel like the most important person in your life right now. Your world will revolve around them because they need as much love and support as you can give them. However, don’t forget to take care of yourself.
“The distinction between being selfish and taking care of yourself is extremely important, and we look forward to the day when people can enjoy necessary TLC without feeling guilty about it,” says Kenya Foy of the blog HelloGiggles. “As people, we only have a finite amount of resources with which to operate, so taking care of ourselves really isn’t a matter of selfishness — in fact, making sure our own need are met only makes us more well-equipped to support others.”
Putting yourself first is often the only way to make a lasting difference in the lives of those who need you most. It’s all about prioritizing your help so you can give the best support.