When a loved one completes a substance use treatment program, the ongoing love and support you provide to them can be a significant source of strength. Yes, looking forward to a fresh start is exciting, but it can also invoke feelings of uncertainty and anxiety during those early months of recovery. Below are some ideas for how to offer a loved one your support as they embark on the recovery journey.
Get professional family therapy support
Chances are, if yours is like most families impacted by substance use, you have some issues to work through once your loved one completes treatment and enters recovery. Dysfunctional family dynamics, broken trust and hurt feelings may have left wounds that are in need of healing.
As you begin to rebuild the relationships and restore trust, it is helpful to do so with guidance and support. Ongoing family therapy can be beneficial during the first year of your loved one’s recovery, as therapy provides support when you encounter bumps in the road. Also, groups like Alcoholics Anonymous or Co-Dependents Anonymous can be excellent sources of support for family members with recovering loved ones.
5 ways to be supportive of your loved one in recovery
Following treatment, as you re-integrate your loved back into the family system, there are some helpful actions you can take. Keep in mind that you can offer them support while also remaining mindful and protective of your own wellbeing.
Here are some ways you can help your loved one in recovery:
- Set healthy boundaries: To avoid falling into enabling behaviors — make sure to establish clear boundaries and be willing to enforce them. Sit down with your loved one and create a list of your expectations and any consequences if the boundaries are breached. Boundaries help you protect yourself, while also respecting your loved one’s own boundaries.
- Keep communication open: Create a welcoming space for honest, open communication. Be sure your loved one knows you are always available to talk with them about things they may be struggling with. When they do confide in you, be nonjudgmental and non-confrontational. Instead, lovingly guide them towards their recovery tools, such as calling a sponsor, attending a meeting or distracting themselves through exercise or hobbies.
- Participate in family therapy. While your loved one was in treatment, family therapy was likely part of the program. Once in recovery, family therapy can remain a powerful tool for working through any challenges as a cohesive group. These family counseling sessions are both informative and helpful in guiding the healing process.
- Don’t use substances around them: In order to provide a supportive environment for your loved one in early recovery, it is important to be sensitive to potential triggers for relapse. When the individual lives with you, it is essential to remove any sources of temptation — dispose of any substance that can provide intoxicating or altering effects.
- Enjoy healthy activities together: Your loved one may find that establishing a new sober lifestyle takes time. In the meantime, it can be helpful if your family includes your loved one in sober activities. Invite them on a run, a bike ride or a hike. Include them in social gatherings where alcohol will not be served, or consider volunteering at a local charity event as a family.
The family has an essential supportive role in the loved one’s recovery process. Offer your ongoing love and support, while still allowing them the space to take ownership of their recovery.
Ashley Addiction Treatment, formerly Father Martin’s Ashley, is a nationally recognized nonprofit leader in integrated, evidence-based treatment for substance use disorders. Our programs are accredited by The Joint Commission, and result in frequent publications of ongoing research into effective treatment methodologies. We offer holistic care that encompasses the mind, body and spirit through inpatient and outpatient treatment, provide drug detox, relapse prevention plans, family wellness programs and a variety of other services tailored to each patient’s unique needs. Our driving principle — “everything for recovery” — reinforces our mission to transform and save lives through the science of medicine, the art of therapy and the compassion of spirituality, and is complemented by our philosophy of healing with respect and dignity. For information about our comprehensive programs, please call 866-313-6307.