One of the hardest steps in drug and alcohol recovery has been taken … your loved one is in a program, and has admitted that they have a problem. This leaves many wondering if there is anything they can do to help the addict or alcoholic have the best possible chance of successfully becoming clean and sober.
The Current Condition
Before we suggest helpful actions, you must understand that overcoming addictions to drugs and alcohol require a great amount of commitment, willpower and determination as well as a degree of courage. Addictions are complex, being a condition with not one, but four substance dependant areas affected: the psychological, the physical, the emotional and the neuro-chemical.
For an addict, their time in a drug and alcohol recovery program is a time of massive self-evaluation and assessment of their lives. It is often the first time in years that they have been sober enough to clearly grasp the full impact of how their addiction has affected them, their lives and those around them. They will be trying to deal with a range of emotions and insecurities while feeling scared and vulnerable without their “crutch” to lean on. Their addiction may well have caused them to significant damage to many of the normal things that people have … their family, their job, their finances and their health … and they will be wondering how they can get their lives back on track. During this time, they will likely feel ashamed of themselves, unsure about their relationships, and guilty about much of their past behavior.
In other words, for the first time since they became addicts, they are facing what their addictions have cost in real terms. They will have to face up to rebuilding their lives again on many levels. In the background to the emotional and spiritual turmoil, they will be experiencing chemical, physical and neuro-chemical withdrawal symptoms, too. Many addicts and alcoholics have a hard time getting past this phase since they are fragile. Your support can prove invaluable to help the recovering addict persevere and succeed with their recovery.
As a family member or friend to an addict or alcoholic, you have had to endure some difficult times, from the loss of trust, to some likely form of emotionally and possibly physically abuse. If this is the case, then one of the first and most important things you must do to help your loved one is to ask yourself if you are prepared to be as disciplined about helping them through their recovery while they are in a drug and alcohol rehab program. Can you offer reasonably consistent, positive support while they are in recovery? If so, here are some of the things to remember:
- Some people want their recovery to be private and you must respect that.
- Attend meetings with your loved one if you can and if they want you to.
- Be as available as you can, as part of their network of support.
- Create a safe space for them if they are in your home. This means no drugs or alcohol anywhere on the premises.
- Allow them the space talk freely.
- Build trust by being careful not to nag, criticize or lecture the addicted person or your help may be interpreted as an attempt to control them.
- Be honest, but tactful. You may have issues that you want to be addressed, but this is not time for recriminations or bitterness. It is a fresh start for the recovering addict, and you should treat it as a fresh start for you, too. Plus, many recovery programs will offer services that help family members and friends address their issues separately and with the addict or alcoholic.
- If your love has become conditional, find a way to release the conditions and love freely again. Remember who your loved one was before their addiction and encourage them to become that person again, and more.
- You want your loved one to be the person you first loved so remember to be the person that they first loved, too.
- Make plans and build a picture of a new relationship that has a bright future, something for you both to visualize and work towards.
- Believe in your loved one’s recovery, and help them believe in it, too. See it, talk about it and help them move forward.
Remember that the underlying cause of addictions to drugs and alcohol is spiritual. Hope and healing come through renewal of the spirit by God’s merciful blessings. Remember that God wants us all to flourish and be the best people that we can be. With God’s help, we can overcome all conditions. With God’s love and compassion, we can become more than we were before.
Albert Black is the founder and CEO of Recovery in the Pines, the premier Christian-based, extended-care, addiction treatment center, located in Prescott, AZ, offering holistic wellness for drug and alcohol dependency. For more information about Recovery in the Pines, go to its website at: http://recoveryinthepines.com/ or contact Albert Black by phone at: (928) 308-4311 or email at: firstname.lastname@example.org