It can be difficult to watch someone we love suffer from a substance use disorder; so when they get help, it’s natural that we want them to become the best version of themselves. Supporting someone in recovery is extremely challenging because it requires us to take a step back and allow them to experience treatment and recovery for themselves. This is particularly difficult when they struggle. Resilience and perseverance are born through overcoming adversity and facing the challenges of life. Recovery is the ultimate challenge, and through it is born the ultimate story of redemption in the lives of those we love. Knowing how painful and challenging life was before recovery and the challenges that our loved ones will face in recovery, the question is, how do we best support our loved ones in their recovery?
Getting Comfortable with the Journey
Recovery is a journey, full of ups and downs. As family members, it is important to not only understand the discomfort associated with watching our loved ones endure healthy struggles, but also how important those struggles are for their success. Early recovery is a time for finding oneself and one’s purpose in life. It is important for our loved ones to learn what they like, what they don’t, and what gives them purpose and passion. If we are taking care of them, we oftentimes unintentionally inhibit their ability to explore these facets of themselves. By taking a step back, and letting our loved ones experience this new life in recovery for all that it is, we can start to get comfortable with the uncomfortable. It may also help to think of a struggle you have faced, what it was like for you and when you look back, what lessons were you able to learn and were you able to find passion and purpose because of that time in your life.
Shifting our Focus
It can be easy to think that addiction is different from other illnesses; however, there are many similarities between it and other diseases. When we are sick, we are inherently self-centered; and our ailments can take over and begin to define us. If we shift the focus off of our loved one and onto ourselves, we can find healthiness and empowerment both for us and our loved one. This shift in perspective and focus allows us to see the impact that addiction has had on our lives and behavior; recovery becomes a process for us too. How do we begin to recover?
- Communication – keeping an open line of communication is key. It is important for your loved one to have a place to go and not feel judged.
- Honesty – it is important to start having those difficult conversations, and really opening up about thoughts and feelings in a healthy way.
- Authenticity – when we are authentic with our loved ones we help model what is needed in healthy recovery. We also, help them learn that it is ok to not be ok; sometimes we need permission for that.
- Encouragement – be a cheerleader and take interest in this new life of recovery. Encourage them to attend meetings and participate in activities related to their recovery. Encourage them to seek out additional support from peers, their sponsor, or therapist. Having a well-rounded support system is key to recovery.
- Step back and allow them to ask for help – helped loved ones build their confidence by taking a step back and letting them accomplish things on their own. Let them fail in order to help them learn and grow. Allow struggle, in a healthy way while using your skills and tools of encouragement.
- Walk alongside of them – not in front of them to lead the way, not behind them to prop them up or clean up messes. Walk beside them as someone they can lean on and as someone who encourages them to embrace this new life.
Our love is deep and true; however, we need to learn to support our loved ones differently. We may be stifling them from becoming who we want them to be because we are uncomfortable with watching others struggle. Take a step back and encourage your loved one during this time of transformation. Its important, to remain by their side as part of their support system as they leave treatment and start to rebuild their life once again.
Ashley Addiction Treatment believes that connection is the key to recovery, with treatment options focused on holistic, integrated, and compassionate care. Ashley believes in caring for everyone affected by substance use disorder and offers a family wellness program. If you would like to speak to someone about our care options, please reach out to us today at 800-799-4673.
Assistant Program Director, Family Services