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How to Support a Loved One Through Addiction Recovery
Watching a loved one struggle through the rehabilitation process can be a difficult thing. You may feel at a loss, unsure as to how you can help. Fortunately, you don’t need to be a trained professional to support a person through the recovery process. You simply need to be empathetic and understanding. Here are a few ways you can be the support your loved one needs:
Be Prepared With Activities
In many cases, recovering addicts are at the center of familial attention. Family members may be negative, shaming the person for getting into the situation to begin with, or they may be overbearing and unintentionally patronizing. Regardless, this can mean your loved one is hearing about their problem constantly, making it nearly impossible to take their minds off the addiction. This can slow the recovery process drastically.
Instead of fixating on the problem, be prepared with ways to take their mind off things for a while. Learn a new hobby together, become gym partners, plan hikes, or make a habit of heading to the local coffee shop together. When things get bad and they’re having trouble focusing on life without their addiction, turning to an activity with a supportive person can work wonders.
Though talking about your loved one’s addiction all the time is never a good thing, let them know you are available to talk when they need it. A person struggling with something like addiction needs to know they can be heard. Often, listening doesn’t even require action. Allowing a person to get something off their chest does not necessarily mean you have to play counselor.
With that in mind, if your loved one is revealing things you feel unequipped to handle, absolutely suggest a counselor or a hotline. Your wellbeing should not be diminished by helping your loved one recover. If you are struggling with your loved one’s addiction and your role in their recovery, you become less and less helpful to them. If you feel overwhelmed by this role, you need to seek external help such as other loved ones or professionals.
Be Prepared for Emergencies
Of course, you want to believe your loved one is recovering and will not experience a relapse. You want to think that, because they are receiving treatment, you don’t even need to worry about an overdose or another medical emergency. Unfortunately, even those who seem to be on the right path can have a moment of weakness and one moment is all it takes. In the event of an emergency, you should have a plan. Involve your loved one in the process as well. This can have the added benefit of making your loved one feel more in charge of their life.
This plan should include a write-up of necessary medical information for the hospital staff in the event that your loved one is not able to communicate, numbers of people who need to know that an emergency is occurring, and an agreement under which circumstances an ambulance should be called. Be as thorough as possible when planning for a potential emergency.
Though recovery from addiction is a long, difficult road, it is important that you remain prepared and optimistic. A recovering addict needs support throughout the entire process, not just the beginning. If you begin to feel overwhelmed, recruit others for additional support. Recovery is not just a possibility; it is a likely outcome when your loved one has the support they need.
Jennifer Woodson enjoys serving the public as a writer for PublicHealthCorps.org. The site is dedicated to putting the public back into public health by serving as a hub of reputable and useful public information on health topics.
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