When you are watching a loved one struggle with addiction, it can feel like you are an outsider looking in. It’s difficult to understand why they use or where their addiction came from — especially if they are your child and you have other children who do not struggle with addiction. Still, you love them and want the best for them, but you feel that you cannot get close enough to offer them your support.
You worry that if you continue to feel this way, then you will distance yourself from them even further. Understand that getting close to a loved one going through recovery is not as hard as you might think — it all begins with lending support.
Celebrate Each Milestone
Support is not limited to I’m here for you and you can do this. While these are nice sentiments, support is showing the person you care by trying to understand as much as you can about what they are experiencing. In society, there is still much resentment and stigmas that surround both addiction and mental disorders.
The prejudice and judgment that someone struggling with addiction or a mental disorder can hold them back from reaching their full potential. When you educate yourself on addiction as a disorder, you can begin to understand how much physical and mental pain comes from addiction.
This is why it’s so important to support and celebrate each milestone your loved one reaches — to reaffirm their efforts with positivity. Since there is still much prejudice surrounding those who struggle with addiction, you might consider becoming an advocate for the cause to raise awareness and help educate those around you.
A person is not healed just because they feel better. This is true in all types of recovery, whether it’s medicine, injury, or addiction. While feeling better is an encouraging response, there is still work to be done. Think of it this way — if you break your leg, the minute you can bear weight on it again and take a few steps does not mean that you are ready to run marathons or climb hills.
You understand that this is just the beginning. For your loved one, if they detox and go through a rehab program, this too is only the beginning. The next steps are finding a support meeting, creating goals and making a schedule to help them acclimate back into society as a sober person. Relapse is always on the table at any point in recovery.
Preparing yourself and your loved one for this possibility is necessary because while it may happen, it does not mean they are in the full swing of addiction again. Remember to be strong — try not to respond emotionally if your loved one does relapse because your negative response will only drive them closer to their addiction.
Create a Safe Space
When somebody healing from addiction enters the world again, they will likely be presented with plenty of opportunities to use again, such as social gatherings with friends, dining at certain restaurants, or even family gatherings. From a cultural standpoint, people like to drink and use drugs, so the danger to use again is always around. You can help by establishing a safe space for your loved one.
Whether you live with them or not, creating a safe place where they know they can go and be free of temptation will mean a lot to them. This space should be free of all negative temptations — if you use medication, keep it in a place where they cannot access it.
Sometimes, just knowing that there is a safe place to go when things get tough can go a long way in helping someone choose not to use. Also, be willing to make yourself available 24/7. Open your heart and your door to this person. It will mean a lot.
Don’t Project Expectations
Most rifts happen when you disagree with your loved one’s choices. For example, if you want grandchildren but your son or daughter wants to focus on a life that does not involve kids, you need to be ready and willing to accept their decision. As long as it does not pose a risk to them relapsing, you have to support it. Help them build their dream — not yours.
What is important is the reality of now, not the imagined. Pushing someone away because your imagination is not manifesting is selfish, perhaps even silly. You love this person and should try to support them no matter what. When you do accept and support their decisions, you stand to watch them grow and flourish beyond your expectations.
A healthy relationship is about give-and-take, and this is part of the recovery process, too. If you are constantly intervening or dropping everything to help a loved one, you risk becoming an enabler. Recovery is about allowing freedom and independence, so those in recovery may find the confidence needed to pursue their goals.
If the journey has become too taxing, don’t be afraid to ask for help yourself. Reach out to a counselor or therapist, or practice meditation. It is important to keep your mental and physical health in order, too.
The goal should be to support your loved one in recovery by building a relationship that is founded on understanding, acceptance, and love. If you are struggling to understand or lend support to your loved one, it’s time for professional intervention. True Recovery offers 24/7 care and is sensitive to the needs of families going through the recovery process. True Recovery is founded on alternative treatment and will work with you and your loved one to find the right care for everyone involved. To learn more, call us today at (866) 399-6528.