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It is highly probable that you have come into contact with someone who is in recovery from addiction. Many of us have family members or friends who have found their path to wellness and just as their active addiction had consequences for us, so too will their recovery. How to support a loved one in recovery doesn’t have to be a complicated process though.

Of course, you want to see your loved one succeed in changing their lives for the better and supporting that endeavour will be high on your priority list. However, care needs to be taken when offering support to anyone recovering from addiction for the benefit of all involved. There are positive steps that can be taken to encourage and support you and your loved one while recovering from addiction.

Take care of you first

Already, the strain of active addiction of a loved one may have left you depleted mentally, emotionally and physically. You have probably spent many years in a constant battle to help your loved one only to be left with your nervous system completely dysregulated and with nothing left in the tank. You matter too and it is vitally important to have your own support network while attempting to support another.

Seeking help for yourself and the extended family can also increase the likelihood of long-term sobriety for the person struggling with an addiction. Learning and growing together strengthens bonds and helps everyone understand the disease of addiction and how to overcome it successfully.

Listen and encourage

Letting your loved one know that you are on their side helps them to stay motivated and on track. Active addiction is a lonely and isolating circumstance where the person can feel vilified and misunderstood. If the person has decided to find recovery, then they will most likely have an addiction recovery program or therapist. However, sometimes the need to decompress and talk about the experience of being in recovery is something they want their closest people to hear about. Again, this strengthens bonds and allows you both to hear the other’s experience of recovery.

Quality time

Often families and friends of people in addiction will tell you about their own loneliness and the loss of the relationship they once had. Offering to spend quality time with your loved one in recovery can remedy the loneliness and mend relationships. For a person in recovery, relearning how to have fun without their substance of choice can be difficult. Reminding them the joy a walk on the beach, a good movie or cooking great food can bring, helps the monotony they may feel. There are alcohol free events everywhere these days which may be a great opportunity to have some fun.

Boundaries are vital

It is important to remember that you cannot save a person from addiction so having clear boundaries that nobody can cross is vital. It is important to be aware of your own enabling and codependent behaviours to protect both yourself and the person in recovery from addiction from making wrong choices.

Lead by example

Never underestimate the power of peer influence. Showing your loved one how to really take care of themselves through your own example can make a huge difference. It also reminds you that selfcare is not a selfish act, but an essential one. Find healthy pursuits that you enjoy and do them. Small acts of kindness towards yourself helps everyone!

Addiction recovery is one of the hardest, yet most fulfilling things that can occur in a person’s life. It enhances the life of everyone that comes in contact with the person in recovery. Always remember that you are recovering too and patience, consistency and gentleness will take you far.


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