14 Ways to Support Someone New in Recovery

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There are millions of people suffering from some form of substance abuse and addiction. In fact, as of 2012, there were 8.5 % of people in the US with abuse or dependency on substances of some kind. Addiction is common and many won’t get the help they need. So when someone you care about takes the necessary steps to get sober, understand that you can play a part in their successful recovery. If you support your loved one through recovery, he is more likely to stay sober. To fully support someone new in recovery is truly a gift. They need your love, kindness and attentiveness to make it through the challenges of recovery. Ending the cycle of substance abuse and moving towards sobriety is the right choice but it’s extremely difficult. Being sober opens up a lot of wounds and healing can be painful for everyone involved. For you to truly help the newly sober person in your life, patience will be required. You need to push them to move forward and motivate them to keep up their sobriety.

Rehab is The Beginning of Recovery

Going to rehabilitation for addiction is an excellent beginning towards recovery. There is still so much work to be done though. Coming back to the normal life isn’t always easy due to old habits and past triggers. The recovery process should be followed and you can help a person to do this. The recovery process truly begins when a recovering addict does these following things:

  • Begins to deal with their problems without turning to drugs or alcohol and it doesn’t become overwhelming.
  • Understanding their boundaries and how to separate their own problems from other people.
  • Has one person in their life that they can be truly honest with. If they are honest to someone on the outside, they are coming to terms with reality within themselves also.
  • Knows how to take time out when they become emotionally or physically exhausted.

Encouraging Sobriety for the Recovering Addict

Getting sober is one thing. It’s the staying sober that is considered a journey for life. This journey is much easier with a little help from friends, family, and loved ones. When a person gets through addiction treatment, they need the right kind of support and encouragement. There is a feeling of isolation for the newly sober. A study done with rats shows a connection between isolation and addiction. Being able to show someone they’re not alone through actions and words is important for the newly sober.

1 Acceptance for the Recovering Addict

Be accepting of the person and don’t place judgment. Recovering addicts often say they feel judged by the people around them. Don’t criticize or be negative around them. Express your love and practice compassion for someone who is staying sober.

2 Create a Safe Space for Recovery

Creating a space for a recovering addict that has no substances is extremely important for success. Studies about the efficacy of living in a sober house show that there are certain methods which have been proven to work. You can create this environment within the recovering addict’s home and surrounding circumstances. Take away any drug paraphernalia or alcohol and encourage them to avoid places that can trigger old habits, causing relapse.

3 Listen to Them When They Want to Talk

When they want to talk, listen. Pay attention to what they’re saying. Not all recovering addicts want to talk but if they do, take the time out. Sometimes, they just need a sounding board.

4 Create a Healthy Environment

If you happen to be the one making meals, cook them healthy foods that are full of nutrients. In rehabilitation, they feed patients nutrient high meals to make up for the abuse the body has gone through. This should continue once the newly sober person comes home. Other positive ways you can influence them is to promote exercising and playing games. The exercise will boost endorphin levels and take their mind off of recovery challenges like cravings and depression. Creating new, happy memories gives someone in recovery hope.

5 Help Them Find a Support Group

Support them by helping them find courage to go to a support group. You can suggest it and even volunteer to go along with them. There are open groups where you can join the recovering addict and even talk through how you feel about everything. Otherwise, they can go to a support group that is closed where they can freely interact with other recovering addicts. This gives them a space of opening up to people who have gone through the same battles. SAMHSA has stated that community is one of the four pillars of successfully recovering from addiction.

6 Be Patient with Someone Newly Recovering

Practice patience with your newly recovering loved one. The process for recovery is complex and lengthy. Sometime relapses happen. Your initial reaction might be to lose your temper but this is the last thing the recovering addict needs. What they really need is to know that you still love them and are still going to support them.

7 Things To Avoid While Supporting a Recovering Addict

There are some things you should avoid doing and saying while you’re supporting someone recovering from addiction. The addict is going through a lot of things on their own accord. Making it worse could push them over the edge.

8 Don’t Pressure the Recovering Addict

This is especially true in the first few months. Their life may have fallen apart. They aren’t working, they feel depressed or anxious. They may have health issues. This is not the time to tell them to go get a job or to get a life. Pushing someone to do more than they can manage can be critical in their recovery. Give them time to create the necessary foundation to fully heal and recover.

9 Don’t Take Things Personally

This is especially true in the early phases of recovery. The recovering addict may be making their recovery a top priority instead of you. They may be focusing on their own aftercare or perhaps they are just looking inward to find some answers. Counseling sessions may take up their time instead of nights out with you. This is a necessary part of their process as they focus on getting better. In time, this strengthens any friendships or partnerships.

10 Don’t Stop Communication

It’s better to voice your confusion or frustration than to say nothing at all. Family therapy might be a good idea if you have a hard time voicing your opinion in a way that still maintains a compassionate tone.

11 Don’t Try to Prevent the Addict from Making or Learning from Mistakes

While in recovery, the moments of ‘rock bottom’ is where the real healing begins. When they can overcome these moments, they start to feel their power. If you intervene before they’re even tested, this is the role you must live with. This puts a great amount of pressure on you and it’s not fair to the addict either. They are responsible for themselves ultimately so have faith that they’re strong enough.

12 Don’t Walk on Eggshells

Don’t live in silence for fear of causing a recovering addict to relapse. When someone goes to rehabilitation, they become well aware that they are responsible for themselves. They have to find their own strength and learn to cope with their life and relationships. They may perceive that you did something to spark a relapse. This is never the case. Nothing you say or do causes a relapse and if they do, it’s not your fault. Be honest about how you feel without worrying about the outcome.

13 Don’t Make Assumptions

Ask what the recovering addict in your life needs from you. Making this a clear and honest conversation helps you to give them what they need. Some people recovering may need a lot of help while others may feel more comfortable getting help out of their home.

14 Don’t Rehash the Past as Hard as it Might Be

You have probably been hurt by the recovery addicts’ substance abuse but it’s time to move forward from past pain like they are. Not letting go of what happened while they were under the influence of substances prevents the necessary growth for everyone to recover. You may wish to get your own therapy to find peace and understanding. Becoming well informed of what addiction does to someone might also be helpful SAMSHA has found that there are certain factors which support a successful recovery from substance addiction. You have the power to help them with all the components. Health is one factor in which you can help them to eat a more balanced diet and motivate them to start exercising. The second aspect is home. If you live with an addict, giving them a stable and safe place to live is important for their well-being. The third aspect is purpose. Help them find a purpose if they don’t have one. Being sober in itself is a purpose but there has to be more. Help them find the meaning in their life through gentle support and kind words. Believe in them so they can believe in themselves. The last aspect is community. Your relationship to the recovering addict gives them a feeling of belonging that they need in order to overcome their addiction. Nothing is more motivating than feeling like people are supporting your journey through love and hope.