Loving an addict becomes a lot easier when they decide to go through rehab. While recovery doesn’t fix all the pain that he or she may have caused you in the past, it is a step in the right direction. It shows that they’re not going to continue to let drugs wreck their life and the relationships they have with others, including you.
But, this is actually when an addict needs you the most.
The journey to recovery is something you have to walk with them. The more you reach out and offer support, the better their recovery process will be.
Here are 6 tips to help you help a recovering addict.
1. Act without Judgment
This is something a lot of people who know an addict hear, but it doesn’t always sink in. Judgment does nothing to help the recovery process; it does the complete opposite.
In the same way that an addict is working to let go of their past, you have to, too.
Try to understand what lead them to have an addiction in the first place. Educate yourself on this illness and vent any judgments you may have with other people.
More importantly, forgive the addict you know for the things they’ve said and done. Let them know that you’re proud of them for making good decisions now. This will help you both stop dwelling on the past and start looking toward the future.
2. Encourage Healthy Habits
One of the most effective things a person can do during recovery is to replace their old bad habits with new, healthy habits. This can include anything from meditation and doing yoga to some other form of exercise or diving into creative expression.
The thing is, it may take time for your loved one to find what works for them. Don’t think twice about whether they’ve stopped going for morning runs or if they’ve lost interest in gardening. As long as they’re still making an active effort to find the healthy habit that they can connect to, they’re on the right path.
It is a bit of a red flag if they stop putting forth any effort at all, though. But, you can cross that bridge when you get there, just remember to do so without judgment.
3. Try New Things with Them
A great way to encourage your loved one to stick with a new habit or even to find one in the first place is to be right by their side. Go to a yoga class, a creative workshop, or the gym with them. Whatever it is that they’re using to heal, join them.
This speaks volumes; it shows how invested you really are in their recovery, and it can help them be consistent with their new habit. Who knows, you may become interested in this new hobby yourself and turn it into something you can both enjoy together! This does wonders for the healing process of your relationship.
4. Celebrate Their Successes
Deciding to go to rehab is just the first step in actually getting better. But, every step from that moment matters. There are many milestones in a person’s recovery process that are worth celebrating. Some include:
- being 1 week sober
- 1 month sober
- 12 weeks/3 months sober
- 6 months sober
- 1 year sober
Think of every milestone as if it’s their birthday. Seriously, go out of your way to congratulate them and to share how proud you are of them! It means more than you might think, both in the person’s heart and in terms of their overall success being sober.
5. Create a Substance-Free Space
If you live with a recovering addict, you owe it to them to create a substance-free space. That’s right – no more bottles of wine in the house, other forms of alcohol, or any other drug.
Even if they’re “for you” that doesn’t do much to show how you support them. If anything, it says you’re not willing to help as much as you say you are.
Make this sacrifice for your loved one. Keep the house free from any drugs that aren’t necessary prescriptions. This significantly reduces your loved one’s temptations to relapse. Not to mention, it makes it harder for them to actually relapse because they won’t have easy access to anything!
6. Be Sober Yourself
Maybe you don’t live with the addict in your life but you do like to check in with them on a regular basis. Make sure you’re completely sober whenever you do. Don’t order a drink at dinner and don’t come over smelling like booze, either.
Avoid smoking cigarettes around them as well. You want to set the best example you can. Show them how amazing a sober, healthy life can be.
Even if this person knows you like to drink casually with others, they’ll appreciate you not drinking around them. Plus, you may find yourself with a smaller urge to drink which wouldn’t be the worst thing in the world.
Loving an Addict Before and After Recovery
Keep in mind that recovery is only part of the story of a person’s addiction.
The real trick to loving an addict is to love them during their good and their bad. You’ve probably already seen them at their worst. But, loving them during their recovery process and further beyond that is what helps their sobriety stick.
Make sure this person always feels accepted and welcomed. Help them when they’re struggling with their recovery and celebrate them when they’re doing well.
All of these actions add up.
For more information on how to support the addict in your life, click here.