Recovery is a lifelong process, both for the addicted person and for his closest friends and family members. By understanding the many challenges that accompany the healing journey, friends and families can prepare themselves to support their addicted loved one through all the ups and downs that happen along the way.
Substance abuse can present many obstacles for the addict, as well as everyone surrounding him. Because of the toll this illness has taken on you, you may have trouble grasping how you can best help your loved one feel safe and fully supported in his mission to pursue a life of sobriety. Here are three ways to get started.
What Does Recovery Look Like?
To maintain a lifetime of abstinence from intoxicating substances, your loved one must get to the root of his substance misuse disorder through a customized program of therapy. He must also be ready and willing to devote the effort necessary to work on his spiritual and emotional growth.
Long-term substance abuse erodes addicts’ decision-making abilities and eventually becomes their first line of defense against stressful and challenging situations. As a result, the recovery process looks different for everyone who confronts it. Your loved one will need to develop new coping strategies and learn how to recognize triggering situations so he can begin to move toward a new, healthier way of life.
Strategies You Can Use to Help
Above all else, your addicted loved one needs an environment of love and compassion. Here are three things you can do to provide the help and structure he needs, all without falling into the trap of enabling.
1. Keep a Positive Mindset
As difficult as it might be, you must remain upbeat and realize all the challenges your friend or family member is facing as he encounters the uncharted territory of a substance-free lifestyle. Try not to dwell on any of the mistakes he may have made in active addiction. That means not saying harmful things that remind him of times when he behaved irresponsibly. Because of the inherent shame associated with addiction, he likely already feels bad enough without you constantly bringing up sharp memories. Instead, channel that energy back into being fully present for him.
2. Respect His Boundaries
To anyone in addiction recovery – especially in the earliest phases – any reminder of substance use can become a relapse trigger. For example, if you have never had any substance misuse issues, you might not see any problems with having a bottle of wine on the table at dinner. However, for someone working to combat an active addiction, even a glimpse of a substance of misuse can make them backslide. By removing all such temptations from your home and enforcing a strict policy of abstinence among your entire support network, you can prove your commitment to helping your loved one recover.
By the same token, you should work hard to understand that the person you care about is working hard day by day (and sometimes, minute by minute) to overcome the issues associated with his illness. While it may be necessary at first for you to monitor where he goes and who he spends his time with, you should recognize the difference between helping and hovering.
3. Encourage New Hobbies
Substance use eventually becomes the sole, controlling interest in an addict’s life. Because of this, one of the most constructive things you can do in helping your loved one is to research and suggest new activities you can enjoy together, such as hiking, birdwatching, pottery or getting involved in creative pursuits. These ideas can help combat boredom and help you and the person you care about live a better-rounded and productive life.
World-Class Treatment for Young Men Living With Substance Misuse
At Spearhead Lodge, our mission is to provide the motivation and the tools young adult men need to realize the pathway to recovery. Our curriculum provides the necessary life skills and self-confidence to move forward and embrace recovery on the right foot. To learn more, contact us today.