Recovering from an addiction is a long, arduous journey – but it’s that much harder when traveled alone. And family support is a must to help your loved ones lead a sober life.
Along the road to recovery any addict will stumble and trip upon hundreds of obstacles and difficulties – and as family members, friends, spouses, and partners, it’s important for us to consider and understand how to help our loved ones when they’re tackling their demons. As most drug users are in their late teens and early 20s, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, recovery can be even harsher as they’re making a transition into adulthood.
There are many things to consider – and they all depend on the temperament of the recovering addict, and the circumstances of their situation, as well as the means available to you and other friends. Ultimately, though, some basic considerations apply across the board when it comes to offering support to someone undergoing professional rehabilitation.
Understand the Process
Rehabilitation is a long process, but it’s always built up in separate, fundamental steps. The first step can be the most physically demanding: detoxification. During this time, the recovery process will depend on your absence – you have to give an addicting space to physically undergo the challenges of withdrawal and self-reflection. It’s not punishment – it’s the time when an addict goes through a tremendous amount of personal stress, and such vulnerability is best to overcome alone.
But after that, the recovery truly begins, with exercise, food, therapy – and you. Depending on where rehabilitation is occurring, the exact details of the program differ.
There’s Time for Talk and Time for Space
Knowing when to give a recovering addict time to heal by themselves, and time to heal through conversation is crucial. Speaking to a therapist about the recovery process can give you better insight into what your role should be, as every recovery is different.
Get a Grasp of Addiction
In the meantime, learning more about addiction can bring you closer to empathizing with and understanding the underlying causes, feelings, and repercussions of longtime drug use. Addiction isn’t a crime, it’s a disease – but due to the effects addiction has had in society, it’s been a natural reaction to stigmatize and place blame on addicts rather than create and promote more tools to help them battle their condition.
Understanding how addiction manifests itself, and the power addiction holds over a person physically as well as mentally can help both during and after the recovery process.
Prepare for the Journey Ahead
Recovery doesn’t end in the rehab facility. Life outside of rehab can be excruciatingly difficult for some, especially as older temptations are once again available. Your role becomes much greater than, as you have to help a recovered addict back on their feet first of all.
Relapses can happen – but they’re not indicative of failed treatment. Instead, they may be part of the process. Relapse rates can be as high as 60 percent, according to the NIH. Help your loved one develop an exercise plan, develop a hobby, and look for employment.