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10 Things You Can Do to Support Your Loved One’s Recovery

1. Take Care of You

It’s counterintuitive but it’s vital. By the time your loved one enters recovery you may find that you resent the time and energy you've spent on worrying and trying to convince him or her to stop. During those times it’s likely your self care suffered. Choosing to focus on self-improvement is not selfish, it is healthy and it lets you more fully support the important work your loved one is doing.

2. Get Help for Yourself

I can’t recommend groups like Al Anon and Nar Anon highly enough. To share with people who have very similar experiences helps you to feel understood and provides opportunities to gain insight and skills.

3. Take Stock of the Rest of Your Family

Who else has been affected? Who needs support? It’s likely that some distance has occurred in these relationships over time and for many of us, feeling ashamed of our loved one’s behavior keeps us apart. Reinvesting in friends and family is among your healthiest options.

4. Learn about the 12 Steps

Familiarize yourself with the program or other supports that your loved one is utilizing. The literature of AA and NA is especially good. Understanding the steps and program will demystify the process and provide you with a deeper understanding of addiction and recovery.

5. Be Patient

Time takes time. Do some journaling or free writing and consider what it is you expect from your loved one and how quickly you expect it to occur. There’s not a right and wrong here, it’s more the case that the more aware we are of our expectations, the more we can consider whether they are healthy. Involving other people in this process will help to reduce levels of stress, anticipation, and very possibly, disappointment.

6. Understand That Relapse Is often Part of Recovery

It may feel like a sinking sensation in your stomach. It may seem that all is lost...

Recovery is not an all or nothing proposition and we expect that folks may well go back to using. When this is the case, all we can do is ensure that we do not enable and remain available to our loved ones with a willingness to support their return to sobriety. 

7. Support Your Loved One’s Changing Priorities

If they say they need a meeting, then they need a meeting. If their whole world needs to stop for an hour then that is very likely a good idea. It’s not that you or other things are not important. It’s that without recovery, nothing else works.

8. Educate Yourself about Formal and Informal Recovery Resources

We tend to be unaware of them until we are in need. If you choose to be supportive of others who love an addict/alcoholic, you’ll find that they are initially overwhelmed and not sure where to turn. Sharing what you’ve learned will spare others a great deal of stress.

9. Become a Recovery Advocate

Consider becoming an advocate for needs relating to addiction and recovery in your town, county, and state. Sharing solutions with those in power creates opportunities that benefit all of us. If you stay connected to your loved one, you will come to understand some of the many systemic obstacles that make recovery all the more difficult.

10. Have Fun

No one gets sober to be miserable. Invest in living. Recovery for the addict and their loved ones is serious business. It’s important that we find ways to have fun and more fully love each other.

Clinical Social Worker/Therapist
My story is I'm forever a work in progress and I love connecting with REAL people who are doing great things. I'm blessed to be making a living doing something I love. I'm a proud dad and the luckiest husband ever. I'm an aspiring author - check out my recovery blog at: Thanks! Jim

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