Study after study has shown the importance of support from family and friends when breaking the cycle of addiction. However, even the most well-meaning of loved ones may find themselves wondering how best to offer this essential component of healing. These tips are especially for friends and family who are looking for ways to offer help during recovery.
Avoid Triggers: Avoid doing or saying things that may remind the addict that he or she is in recovery. For example, don’t drink or discuss drinking while in the addict’s presence, even if the addict says it is okay. You may also want to quit the behavior in question, at least for a while, in order to offer solidarity.
Help Keep a Schedule: Many recovering addicts have prescriptions to take and support meetings to attend. Stay involved by ensuring that your loved one is sticking to the schedule set by his or her outpatient clinic.
Express Love: Frequently tell the recovering addict that you love and our proud of him or her. You may think this is obvious from your behavior, but it can be very encouraging to hear it spoken aloud.
Listen: Be available if your loved one wants to talk. Don’t feel obligated to solve all of his or her problems, but do listen actively and offer help if it seems like it is welcome. Often, it helps the patient to be able to discuss things that are bothering him or her in a supportive environment.
Help Manage Stress: Stress can often trigger a relapse into addictive behaviors. While it’s impossible to avoid stress entirely, you can work on managing it in more productive ways. You may want to try several different approaches to find out what strategy works well for your loved one.
Foster Good Relationships: Strong family bonds are useful for making the recovering addict feel loved and safe. Work on issues like communication and compromise with all family members to create a more supportive environment.