5 Tips to Help a Family Member or Friend Through Addiction Recovery

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If a family member or close friend is recovering from an addiction, it’s difficult to know how to best support their recovery. There are many ways you can help them navigate a new life, but the road can get bumpy. Here, we offer five key tips.

After living through the struggles and emotional upheaval of a family member’s or friend’s addiction, you may think that recovery will be a breeze. But recovery is an ongoing process of ups and downs as they learn to live life without the numbing effect of their substance abuse.

Providing support during their recovery gives them solid ground and hope, but that doesn’t mean it will be easy. You may quickly find that your own emotions interfere with your best intentions or feel lost about how to help them.

Hany Ashamalla, MD, and the team at Notre Dame Behavioral Health, located in Surprise and Peoria, Arizona, understand how difficult a substance use disorder is on the people who live with or care about the person in recovery. They offer these five tips to help you get started.

1. Set healthy boundaries

As your family member or friend goes through recovery, they need to set boundaries that help them navigate a new life away from the people and places that tempt them to relapse. But you also need to set healthy boundaries as you support them.

Creating boundaries allows you to take care of yourself so that you can stay available to help them recover. Kindly but firmly enforcing your boundaries prevents you from becoming overwhelmed, stressed, or burned out.

2. Ask how you can help

In the early days of recovery, knowing what to say or do can be awkward and difficult. The solution is to simply talk with them before jumping in and offering the help you think they need. Let them know you care and ask how you can help.

Throughout their recovery, they will have different needs. They may need companionship one day and prefer to be on their own another. It’s essential to honor their needs. If they want to be alone, be sure to check on them regularly so they know your offer to help still stands.

If they’re open to suggestions, you could offer to go to support meetings with them or help them define goals for their recovery plan. If they have children, offer to occasionally do things with the kids, giving them time to relax and re-energize.

3. Encourage them to stick with their recovery program

Nothing is more important for preventing a relapse than staying active in a recovery program. Your friend or family member has a lot of emotions and thoughts that were kept under wraps during their substance use. They need to participate in their recovery program to work through issues and keep moving forward.

Keep encouraging them and holding them accountable, but don’t cross the line into being pushy or judgmental. 

4. Communicate honestly

By the time a person is in recovery, their addiction has caused significant problems for their family and friends, and that includes a potentially tumultuous past with you. While an addicted person is under the control of alcohol or drugs, their emotions and behaviors erode trust, destroy relationships, damage family dynamics, and cause a host of difficult emotions.

Once they’re in recovery, re-establishing honest and respectful communication is essential but not easy. Suddenly detoxing from substance abuse doesn’t magically reset life, and this new path comes with new challenges. That’s why our final tip is the most important: Don’t hesitate to seek support. 

5. Seek support for yourself

Few people are naturally prepared for living with a person who’s addicted, much less supporting their recovery. It takes great strength to seek help, but meeting with a mental health professional can make the difference.

You can only support another person’s recovery (and not get lost in old habits and emotions) by grounding yourself, learning the dynamics of addiction and recovery, and discovering positive coping skills.

We’re here to help you through your loved one’s recovery. Call Notre Dame Behavioral Health or request an appointment online today.

Notre Dame Behavioral Health

Surprise Location: 14811 W Bell Road, Suite 100, Surprise, AZ 85374
Peoria Location: 10210 W Happy Valley Road, Suite 145, Peoria, AZ 85383