If you have a loved one suffering from addiction to drugs and alcohol, you no doubt understand how difficult it can be to live with that addiction and offer support. Oftentimes families are subjected to lies, financial distress, embarrassment and other consequences of an addicted person’s dangerous and irresponsible behavior. This puts incredible amounts of stress on relationships and the family dynamic as a whole.
Admitting they need help can be the most difficult part of recovery for many people, but it is an extremely courageous step in the recovery process. Whether you organized an intervention or your loved decided on their own that it was time to make a change, there are several things you can do to support them as they undergo treatment in a medically-assisted detox facility.
1. Educate Yourself
Addiction is an extremely complex disease but education is key to understanding what your loved one is going through. Simply taking the time to learn about addiction and how it affects the mind and body can help you recognize the signs of relapse as well as create strategies to help your loved one avoid or cope with triggers at home.
Be very cautious about not using your knowledge as a weapon against your loved one. Instead, use it as a tool for practicing understanding. No one is perfect, but you can learn to be more patient and wise about how you respond to difficult situations involving a loved one in recovery.
There are a number of reputable online resources that provide credible information on addiction, treatment and family support. Some of these include:
- National Institute of Mental Health
- Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration
- National Institute on Drug Abuse
- National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism
- American Psychological Association
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
2. Practice Understanding
As your loved one goes through detox, they may begin to feel ashamed or embarrassed about the way they behaved and treated you. This is normal but it’s important to not drudge up things that have happened in the past and continually remind them of their failures. Instead, offer words of encouragement and tell them how much it means to you that they are getting the help they need. Doing so will help them restore their self-confidence and remind them that they’re not alone in this.
You must also make an effort to manage your expectations of your loved one’s recovery and remember that detox alone is not a cure for addiction. Maintaining realistic expectations will help you remain supportive and compassionate throughout the recovery process. These behaviors won’t always come naturally for you, but putting forth the effort can make a world of a difference.
3. Take Care of Yourself
Taking care of yourself should be just as much of a priority as supporting your loved one during detox. Addiction takes a heavy toll on everyone involved and it will take some time to heal and restore healthy relationships. Getting enough rest, spending time doing the things you love and engaging with community support groups are all great ways to focus on self-healing and restoration while your loved one is doing the same in detox.
4. Make Changes to Your Own Lifestyle
In preparation for your loved one’s return home, it’s helpful to make some changes to your own lifestyle and encourage others at home to do so as well. Here are a few ways to adjust your living habits to help ease a loved one’s transition back home after detox.
- Remove any and all addictive substances from your home.
- If you are addicted to drugs and/or alcohol, consider getting professional help as well.
- Put all prescription drugs in a safe and locked location.
- Abstain from buying and consuming all alcoholic beverages.
- Try to maintain a positive attitude throughout the detox process and after it’s over.
- Plan some fun, sober recreational activities you can enjoy with your loved one in recovery after detox.
5. Make Time in Your Schedule for Family Counseling Sessions
While your loved one is in detox, you may be asked to participate in group counseling sessions. Prioritizing your loved one’s recovery journey by leaving room in your schedule for these sessions is one great way to show your support and engage in their recovery. Sometimes discussions you have with your loved one’s detox counselor may be difficult, but actively participating and providing feedback will only help your family in the long run. Additionally, these counseling sessions can provide countless strategies and tips for living life alongside a person in recovery.
6. Talk to Your Loved One’s Treatment Provider
If you’re not sure what else you can do to support your loved one during detox, contact their treatment provider. It’s impossible to predict how much support your loved one will need during this process because every individual’s needs are different. Nevertheless, the treatment provider will be able to provide helpful recommendations for you and other members of your family. Keep in mind that an addiction counselor may also recommend very little contact with your loved one during treatment, depending on the situation. Although that may be difficult, just remember that no matter how hard it is, the opportunity to be a family free from addiction is always worth it.
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